Thursday, March 26, 2009

Time and trowel wait for no man...

Well, only 3 short, shovel-happy months after we began work on our simulated paleontology-archaeology dig site, it's finally ready for all the kids to come dig everything back out again! Take a look...



As you can see, things look a lot different than they did when we started. The hills are green, the piles of dirt have come and gone, and the pits are full...and those pits hold a LOT more dirt than you might think they would.

Now, though, comes the fun part....getting to teach kids about field techniques! Our first test program in archaeology begins only a scant week away, for students in grades 5-8 (lots of space still available! See our main website for more details if you'd like to participate). This summer, all the pits open full-time for middle-school summer camps and drop-in Dig Days for the general public.

Everyone here is looking forward to getting to show you all some of the most exciting parts of archaeology and paleontology, the way you only can if you come get down in the dirt with us!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Ask the Experts: How do you know where to look for fossils?

The truth is that you sometimes have to get lucky. There are lots of fossils in the ground all over Southern California. A lot of times you'll find them when you start digging up the ground to build something, like Diamond Valley Lake, a pipeline, or maybe your house! Whenever construction crews find fossils when they're digging, they hire a paleontologist to come out and collect them before they dig any more.

Other times you'll go out looking for fossils. You can start to guess where you might find them by looking at the layers of dirt and rock in an area - geologists call that stratigraphy. If you know a certain layer of dirt is a certain age, and you know it had fossils in it in one location, you can guess that it might have more fossils somewhere else, too.

You can also guess at where fossils might be if you know what the environment was like in an area long ago. If you know that a certain location used to be a river or lakebed, for instance, you might guess that its more likely to find fossils there, since more animals would have come there for water, died, and been buried. There are certain environments that preserve fossils better and others that dont preserve fossils at all; you can learn more about these from the interactive displays in the museum gallery.