Thursday, January 31, 2019

Is it a Fossil Smuggling Conspiracy?? (Answer: No, it's something fun)

There's this suspicious storage container on our campus. It's been there for months, all through the construction of our much-anticipated Great Valley Outdoor Nature Lab. It's always closed and locked up and I've never seen what's inside. It's makes one wonder what could be stored there...
The other day though, workers were inside moving things around when I walked by. It was time to do some detective work, so I nonchalantly walked up and acted like a supervisor and looked inside. I was SHOCKED! There were fossils! Lots and lots of fossils! There was what seemed to be a Mosasaur, a T-rex skull, some ammonites, and many others. Had I stumbled upon some kind of fossil smuggling operation? Were we being used to hide ill-gotten paleontological discoveries?
Oh, for heaven's sake. It's not that at all. Can you see that pair of cement enclosures above? Those pits will eventually be mock paleontology dig sites where our children visitors can experience the thrill of discovery. The kids will be using shovels and brushes to uncover these treasures of the past while they learn of the natural history of the Great Valley here in California.
We've been waiting for thirty years for our Great Valley Museum to have an outdoor component that will bring alive the fascinating history of the natural ecosystems of our unique valley. Before it became the premier agricultural center for the continent, the Great Valley was an extensive prairie environment with Tule Elk, Wolves, Grizzly Bears and other interesting creatures. In the geologic past, the valley was an ocean environment that hosted sharks and swimming reptiles like Mosasaurs, Ichthyosaurs, and Plesiosaurs. The Outdoor Nature Lab will be a wonderful learning environment for our local children. There are just a few more weeks to go before it is "complete" (the newly planted trees and shrubs will take years to mature, of course).

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