Visitors to the University of Nebraska State Museum-Morrill Hall can examine a special display of fossils celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Highway Paleontology Program Oct. 14-25. The museum will provide additional fossil-themed virtual content for Fossil Week, Oct. 12-16.
The Highway Paleontology Program is a partnership between the NU State Museum and the Nebraska Department of Transportation. For six decades, the organizations have worked together to ensure the preservation and excavation of fossils discovered during highway construction projects. The anniversary display will feature fossils from the museum’s collections gathered through the program that have not previously been shared with the public.
“The Highway Paleontology Program has saved thousands of Nebraska fossils from destruction and made them available for research on Nebraska’s ancient animals,” said Susan Weller, director of the NU State Museum. “The program is a true gem, all made possible by the support of the Nebraska Department of Transportation and the visionaries who founded it 60 years ago.”
“The Department of Transportation has been proud to partner with the NU State Museum for many years to help aid in the discovery of the history of Nebraska,” said Kyle Schneweis, director of transportation. “We look forward to what the future brings as we continue to discover our past.”
Fossil fans can also participate in a variety of virtual field trips from Morrill Hall via Facebook during Fossil Week. The activities include:
Oct. 12: Explore the geology and fossils of Ashfall Fossil Beds.
Oct. 13: Tour the murals of Morrill Hall and learn how science impacts art and art supports science.
Oct. 14: Learn about fossil preparation and the research done in the museum’s labs with Carrie Herbel, chief preparator for vertebrate paleontology. Also, get a preview of the Highway Paleontology Program display live with Shane Tucker, highway salvage paleontologist, at 12:30 p.m.
Oct. 15: Hear from NU State Museum paleontologist Jeremy McMullin and see tools used to prepare specimens.
Oct.16: Join Rob Skolnick, the museum’s vertebrate fossil preparator, live from Morrill Hall’s Visible Lab at 11:30 a.m. as he shares the fossil currently being prepared there.
“Fossil Week is always a fun way to learn something new about Nebraska’s ancient past,” Weller said. “Fossils are the historical treasures of the science world.”