National Fossil Day: New directions in celebrating our fossil heritage

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This year marks the fourth annual National Fossil Day celebration, which was held on October 16th, 2013. National Fossil Day is part of Earth Science Week, and is organized by the National Park Service collaborating closely with the American Geosciences Institute. It is a celebration that intends to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values. National Fossil Day currently maintains over 265 partners, nationwide, which include national, state, and local parks, other agencies, avocational groups, fossil sites, professional organizations, museums, public and science outreach groups, and universities. National Fossil Day aims to instill in the public an appreciation for the field of paleontology and for the importance of what can be learned from fossils. Fossils are non-renewable resources and, as such, should be treated with care and preserved so that future generations may also learn about our earth's history of life. National Fossil Day has expanded significantly this year, and attempted many new things to engage the public and to promote interest in paleontology and fossils. These were largely focused on getting children more involved, and included creating a webpage specifically for kids; creating a partner category for libraries (who are heavily involved with children locally and who frequently use Jr. Paleontologist booklets); our Art and Photography Contest theme this year was 'Your nomination for our National Fossil', which will culminate next year in a nationwide vote amongst school children to elect a National Fossil; and developing a fun and educational activity called the Fossil Bison Game that teaches children about paleobiogeography. The Fossil Bison Game was a challenging and new idea that attempted to provide children with an opportunity to learn about the relatively advanced concept of paleobiogeography, to simulate how paleontologists interpret and use the fossil record to understand past life, and to generate their personal interest about what we can learn through the fossil record.

  • Cassi Knight*
  • Vincent Santucci
  • Geological Society of America Annual Meeting 2013