NATIONAL FOSSIL DAY™
National Fossil Day promotes the scientific and educational value fossils present to us every day. Not only that, they’re just cool! The observance takes place annually on Wednesday of the second full week in October.
All around the world, paleontologists seek and identify the remnants of animals, insects and plant life that once lived and grew on the earth. Some of these creatures lived hundreds, thousands and millions of years ago. These fossils leave a record that provides clues to the Earth’s history.
From the microscopic fossils of an arthropod to the gigantic titanosaur, humans continue to be fascinated with fossils. The idea of discovering something embedded in ancient sediment motivates some to keep digging. Paleontologists identify fossils much like biologists identify the discovery of a new species of animal or plant life. They classify, name and organize fossils based on their characteristics.
In the scientific world, the scientist who makes the discovery also earns the naming rights. Frequently, the names are entirely scientific, using Latin or Greek roots. However, paleontologists enjoy being creative. For example, fourteen-year-old Wes Linster discovered Bambiraptor Feinbergi in 1993. The name means Bambi thief. Some scientists name their discoveries after living people. In the case of one trilobite that made it into the record books, the name Aegrotocatellus jaggeri comes the rock legend, Mick Jagger.
While fossils were real living beings, the mystery and magic of fossils cannot be overlooked. One of the latest additions to the fossil library reminds us of that. Its name, Dracorex hogwartsia, honors the Hogwarts family.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL FOSSIL DAY
Visit a local museum, or do some research about fossils. Attend an event or sponsor one. While you’re out discovering the world of fossils, tell us about your favorites. Let us know by using #NationalFossilDay to post on social media.
Do you want to discover even more about fossils? We share with you 5 Fantastic First Fossil Discoveries. You can also visit the National Day Calendar Classroom for project ideas and resources that help you Celebrate Every Day in the classroom.
NATIONAL FOSSIL DAY HISTORY
On October 13, 2010, the first National Fossil Day launched across the country during Earth Science Week to celebrate the educational and scientific value fossils provide. The National Park Service and over 270 partners hosted events across the United States, allowing the public opportunities to learn more about the world’s fossil heritage. The partners include museums, institutions, organizations, and many other groups.
Each year the sponsors create a new National Fossil Day logo depicting a prehistoric organism. The logos promote National Fossil Day and provide educational opportunities to share more information about fossils. The original National Fossil Day logo was created in 2010 and featured a fossil mammal known as the titanothere. Other featured fossils include:
- 2011, the marine reptile known as the mosasaur was used as the official logo.
- 2012, the mammoth was featured in the annual logo.
- 2013, a Paleozoic invertebrate known as the eurypterid was highlighted in the annual logo.
Q. What is one of the largest fossil finds in the world?
A. One of the largest fossil finds in the world is located in Illinois. Consisting of four square miles, the giant fossil is that of ancient tropical forest and swamp. The enormous fossil history is located 230 feet underground in the Riola and Vermilion Grove coal Mines.
Q. Besides the tyrannosaurus rex, what other large dinosaurs walked the Earth?
A. There were quite a few dinosaurs larger than T-rex. The largest T-rex weighed in at about 8 tons and 42 feet long. Some of them include:
- Dreadnoughtus schrani – Dr. Kenneth Lacovara discovered this dinosaur in 2005. It weighed in at about 65 tons and stretched 85 feet long.
- Bruhathkayosaurus matleyi – This sauropod tipped the scales at 78 tons, one of the heaviest dinosaurs to live.
- Megalodon – Not only did this dinosaur stretch to 59 feet long and weigh in at 50 tons, but it was also the largest shark to ever swim in the oceans.
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