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University of Iowa News Release

 

Oct. 3, 2006

Museum of Natural History's "Fossil Guy" Programs Feature Dinosaurs

Don Johnson, "The Fossil Guy," returns this fall with an educational series titled "Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs!", to be presented at 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday afternoons in October at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History.

At each program, Johnson, a local amateur paleontologist and UI staff member, will give a 20-minute talk, followed by a close-up, hands-on, question-and-answer session using Johnson's collection of ancient fossils and artifacts. His presentations are geared toward elementary-age school children, but dinosaur lovers of all ages are invited to attend. The same presentation will be given at both sessions each Saturday.

The series is as follows:

--Oct.  7 "The Common Sense T. rex: See a full-size replica of a T. rex skull." During this program, Johnson will discuss some of the different theories about how T. rex lived: Was it a scavenger, a predator, or both? Was T. rex smart or stupid? Johnson will also talk about how fossils tell us about T. rex and what is merely speculation about its teeth, legs and posture. Those in attendance will see a full-size replica of the "Peck's Rex" T. rex skull, touch real T. rex fossils including a T. rex tooth and claw, and learn about the tremendous teenage growth spurt of T. rex. Johnson will share his experiences hunting for T. rex fossils in the badlands of South Dakota and Montana.

--Oct. 14 "Bringing Dinosaurs to Eastern Iowa: See a fossil dinosaur skeleton." The duckbill dinosaurs will be focus of this talk, when Johnson will show a fossil skeleton of "Laura," a juvenile duck-billed dinosaur. Laura's bones were excavated from the badlands of Montana in 2004 and 2005. Real fossil bones, teeth, claws, and even an egg from a number of different duck-billed dinosaurs will be on display. This program will also focus on the duckbill's elaborate head crests, their eating habits and defenses against predatory dinosaurs, and how they raised their young.

--Oct. 21 "Feathered Killer! New Information on the Raptor Dinosaurs." New fossil finds in China have uncovered a feathered raptor dinosaur, or dromaeosaur. These meat-eating dinosaurs have a close relationship with modern birds. Johnson will cover these questions: How did the raptor dinosaurs use their sickle claw (or "killing claw") on each foot to kill their prey? What evidence do we have for pack hunting among the raptor dinosaurs? How big were their brains? Were they as smart as the raptors portrayed in the "Jurassic Park" movies? Participants can see and touch real raptor dinosaur fossils, and a model raptor skeleton and fleshed-out "Jurassic Park" raptor dinosaur.

--Oct. 28 "Become a Dinosaur Detective!" During this program, Johnson will describe what it takes to be a "dinosaur detective" and what can be learned from fossil dinosaur bones. Some of the discoveries that can be made include: How fast did the dinosaurs grow, how did they raise their young, and in what environment did they live? Also, discoveries can be made from microfossils found in the dinosaur badlands. Those attending this program can see and touch real dinosaur fossils, and the fossils of other plants and animals that lived with the dinosaurs, as well as view tiny fossils using a microscope and magnifying glasses. Johnson will also identify fragmentary fossils show how cast replicas of dinosaur fossils are made.

For more information on the "Fossil Guy" and other Museum of Natural History programs, see http://www.uiowa.edu/~nathist/ or call 319-335-0480.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

PROGRAM CONTACT: Sarah Horgen, education and outreach coordinator, Museum of Natural History, 319-335-0606.

MEDIA CONTACT: George McCrory, 319-384-0012, george-mccrory@uiowa.edu