Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fossils and Fossil Mountain Field Trip

I always thought that no REGULAR person could ever find a fossil. I had gone on "fossil collecting" field trips as a child, but nobody ever found any real fossils. If one DID find a real fossil, I thought, it would never be one of those perfect specimens where you can tell what organism made it, but only one so hard to distinguish it might as well be a regular old rock.

Well…I didn't know about Fossil Mountain before. It is CLEAR out in the West Desert, away from everywhere, but it's one of the best places to find fossils in the country! Here's some more information about it. I was still skeptical before we went, and I kept warning the children that we might not find anything. But we DID. We found so many things! It was so much fun. You are allowed to collect from the ground and the washes and even the mountainsides, but I think you just aren't allowed to chisel anything out. Because we were carrying a baby in a backpack and didn't feel like doing much climbing, we mostly stayed down in the washes, looking for fragments. We found plenty to keep us happy down there!

There are several other fossil collecting sites in this (general) area too, but we didn't have time to try any of them out. There are also a couple places you can pay to collect.
Such a desolate place! But beautiful. I love our high deserts.
We saw a bald eagle with some prey actually in his talons! When we drove by, he dropped it in surprise. I hope it was a little bunny that got away. :)
We gave Teddy a rock to hold and he was SO HAPPY. He called it his "Rah" and he loved it deeply.
Fossil shell!

A lot of the rocks were just COVERED with fossils, like this one. Amazing. And most of these are 500 million years old. Can you even imagine?!
Good example of a mold and a cast. (Here is a very good explanation of types of fossils and which is which, if you tend to get them mixed up. :))
Another trilobite.
Some of our interesting finds. We don't even know what all of these are. Perhaps some lava bombs?
We did a bunch of dinosaur and fossil activities I'm not listing here, because they're so easy to find online. :) But we did repeat our jello permineralization activity shown here, and since I was teaching the "Digging in the Past" adventure for Cub Scouts, I also made these cute little "dinosaur eggs" for the Cubs one day. We put these dinosaur skeletons inside and they were quite fun.

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