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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 31, 2011

The Fossil Guy returns to the UI Museum of Natural History Nov. 5

Don "The Fossil Guy" Johnson returns to the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History with his fun and educational programs starting with "Bringing 'Laura the Kid Dinosaur' Back to Life!" on Saturday, Nov. 5, in the Macbride Auditorium. Additional presentations are planned for Nov. 12 and 19. The programs are free and open to the public and begin at 2 p.m.

Johnson, an amateur paleontologist, begins each program with a 20-minute talk geared toward elementary-aged school children. A Q-and-A session follows, as well as opportunities to view and handle fossils that Johnson has collected over the years.

"Don has been sharing his love of paleontology with us since 2002," says Sarah Horgen, education and outreach coordinator for the museum. "We are so pleased that he will return this fall to share his incredible private collection of fossils and artifacts with us. His charisma captures our interest and our imagination."

Topics to be covered in the presentation are as follows:

--Nov. 5: "Bringing 'Laura the Kid Dinosaur' Back to Life!" Be among the first to see the new quarter-sized scale model of "Laura the Kid Dinosaur," a type of crested duck-billed dinosaur. Examine real fossil bones, teeth, claws, and even an egg from a number of duck-billed dinosaurs. Learn why this group of dinosaurs was so successful that they are called the "cattle of the Cretaceous."

--Nov. 12: "Feathered Dinosaurs Yesterday and Today." Many fossil dinosaurs with preserved feather impressions have been recently discovered in China. We now have a new picture of these special dinosaurs and the close relationship between these dinosaurs and the modern birds. How do paleontologists and geneticists know that the modern birds are a specialized group of dinosaurs? Learn about other fossils from the age of dinosaurs to get a complete picture of the world in which they lived over 65 million years ago. Explore the Hageboeck Hall of Birds after the talk to learn about the feathered dinosaurs that are still with us today.

--Nov. 19: "Chewing Up the Ice Age." How do the teeth of the Ice Age mammoth and mastodon compare to the jaw of a modern elephant? How does the skull of the great saber-toothed cat Smilodon compare to that of the modern lion? Learn about these and other Ice Age mammals during this program. There will be a special focus on the recovery of Ice Age remains of an adult and two juvenile giant ground sloths excavated in southwest Iowa by the UI Museum of Natural History. See and touch real fossils of Ice Age creatures, including horses, bison, deer, pole cats, cave bears, and more.

For more information on the "Fossil Guy" and other Museum of Natural History programs, visit or call 319-335-0606.

PHOTO: Don Johnson:

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: John Logsdon, Pentacrest Museums, 319-335-1082,; Steve Parrott, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0037, Writer: Ryan Lindsay