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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 11, 2009

'Fossil Guy' travels back in time at the UI Museum of Natural History

Don Johnson, "The Fossil Guy," returns this semester with educational programs at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoons at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History. All "Fossil Guy" programs are free and open to the public and will be held in Macbride Hall auditorium.

At each program, Johnson, a local amateur paleontologist, will give a 20-minute talk, followed by a close-up, hands-on, question-and-answer session using his collection of fossils and artifacts. Presentations are geared toward elementary-age schoolchildren, but paleontology-lovers of all ages are invited to attend.

The series and subjects are as follows:

* Saturday, Sept. 19: "Tyrannosaurus rex: Big Bully of the Cretaceous"

What do fossils tell us about T. rex, and what is merely speculation? Come find out, as the "Fossil Guy" examines whether this large carnivore was a scavenger, active hunter, or both. He will also discuss other controversies, such as the correct posture of T. rex, and how it used its tiny arms. Attendees will see a full-size replica of the "Peck's Rex" skull, and touch real fossils. Don will also share his experiences hunting for T. rex fossils in the badlands.

* Saturday, Sept. 26: "When Giant Ground Sloths Roamed Iowa"

Discover more about animals that lived during the Ice Age in Iowa, with a special focus on the recovery of giant ground sloths, Megalonyx jeffersoni and Paramylodon harlani, excavated by crews from the Museum. Attendees will be able to see and touch real Ice Age fossils including mammoths, mastodons, horses, bison, and deer. Highlights of the program include a full-sized replica of the skull of Smilodon and Paleolithic artifacts.

* Saturday, Oct. 3: "Laura the Hypacrosaurus and Other Duck-billed Dinosaurs"

Learn about Don's favorite group of dinosaurs: the duckbills! See some of the fossil bones of Laura, the young Hypacrosaurus. See and touch real fossil bones, teeth, claws, and even an egg from a number of different duck-billed dinosaurs, including Edmontosaurus and Maiasaura. Don will also explain what purpose their elaborate head crests might have served and how they defended themselves against predatory dinosaurs.

For more information on the "Fossil Guy" and other museum of natural history programs, visit or call 319-335-0606.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sarah Horgen, Museum of Natural History, 319-335-0606,; Steve Parrott, University Relations 319-384-0037,; Writer: Holly Berg