A few Saturdays ago, it was raining like crazy and there was no chance of a non-soggy park visit, so my mom suggested the Burke Museum‘s Dinosaur Day as a possible diversion. I was too sick to go, so the rest of the crew headed off to join the mob scene at this annual Seattle event.
My daughter’s not a real dino nut like some of the kids in attendance, but she still had fun checking out the bones, fossils and other related stuff and getting to chip away at some rocks in a bit of pretend paleontology.
Her favorite part was the chance to take home a free fossil, courtesy of Stonerose,
a dig-your-own fossil site and interpretive center in Republic, WA. This may be a potential future field trip for the whole family – I’d love to do a little digging and maybe find some cool fossils. For a small fee, you are directed to a likely “find” zone and get to keep up to three fossils as long as they are not deemed historically significant.
From a table of botanical fossils, she chose one of a small leaf. It was identified as an Alder (Alnus), from the Betulaceae (Birch-Alder) family, hailing from the middle Eocene period (i.e. over 50 million years old).
I don’t have a lot of experience with fossils, but something about this little leaf (it’s maybe an inch long) was very powerful to me. The idea of it sitting around in the rock for so many millenia, finally being discovered, then ending up in a tray of freebies and brought home to our house – it just provided an amazing connection to the past and a reminder that our plant friends were here long, long before we arrived on the scene. There aren’t any alder trees in our neighborhood that I’m aware of, but I feel like I need to go and find one and bring the fossil (and my daughter) along for a comparison. Has this species evolved since the Eocene, or are our alders basically the same? Yet another reason I need to take a botany class!
Among other possible fossils she could have chosen, as I can see from a list she brought home, I would have been very curious to see Umbrella pine (Sciatopytis), grape (Vitus), willow (Salix) or some of the extinct stuff. “Unknown fish parts” and “loon vomit,” not so much!
Anyone have fossil stories to share?