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University of Iowa News Release


April 8, 2009

'Fossil Guy' programs begin April 18 at Museum of Natural History

Local amateur paleontologist and University of Iowa staff member Don Johnson will present his seventh year of "Fossil Guy" programs for the UI Museum of Natural History beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 18 with a talk in Macbride Auditorium, located in Macbride Hall on the UI Pentacrest.

For the free, public program, titled "Feathered Dinosaurs Yesterday and Today," Johnson will focus on recent dinosaur fossil discoveries in China that show there were several feathered dinosaurs.

Therizinosaurs, oviraptorosaurs, dromaeosaurs, and even small tyrannosaurs fossils have all been found with preserved feather impressions, further establishing these special dinosaurs' close relationship with modern birds. Johnson will bring a model raptor skeleton, a realistic-looking "Jurassic Park" raptor dinosaur model, a replica microraptor, an oviraptor replica skull, and, as a special bonus, his full-size replica of the "Peck's Rex" T. rex skull.

The series of three Saturday afternoon activities is designed to teach children about dinosaurs and other ancient animals with the help of Johnson's extensive personal fossil collection, one of the largest in Iowa.

"I wanted this spring to showcase a wide variety of the items in my collection," Johnson said. "Sometimes in the series we just talk about dinosaurs, but this time we're also talking about Ice Age animals, like the giant ground sloth, as well as other ancient mammals."

Other "Fossil Guy" programs will take place at the same time on the following dates:

--April 25, Macbride Auditorium: "The World of the Giant Ground Sloth."

--May 2, Museum of Natural History Biosphere Discovery Hub (third floor of Macbride Hall): "Three-toed Horses & Other Strange Mammals of the Past.

Each "Fossil Guy" program consists of a 30-minute talk followed by a question-and-answer session during which visitors get an up-close look at the fossils and artifacts in Johnson's collection.

"It's very hands-on and interactive," said Sarah Horgen, museum education and outreach coordinator. "The programs are geared for kids, giving them the opportunity to touch the fossils they are learning about."

Johnson's passion for his hobby and strong interest in education have made the programs some of the Museum of Natural History's most popular events. He said his favorite part of the talks is seeing the excitement on the children's faces.

"It's been very rewarding for me to not only collect fossils, but also teach people about them and spark an interest in science," he said.

For more information on the "Fossil Guy" and other Museum of Natural History programs visit or call 319-335-0480.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sarah Horgen, UI Museum of Natural History, 319-335-0606; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,; Writer: Claire Lekwa