Midwest Museum of Natural History in Sycamore offers fossil classes

Children hunt for fossils at the 2011 Fossil Hunt at Vulcan Quarry. (Photo provided)

Staff Report

SYCAMORE, Ill. — Packing list for a weekend in Sycamore: snorkeling gear, industrial strength bug repellent, fur-lined parka, time machine. Northern Illinois has been through a lot of changes, and you can take a peek at its past with the Midwest Museum of Natural History.

Clues to the past are written in the rocks. Our local fossils paint a picture of three very different environments that covered the land we now call Illinois.

Jump back 500 million years, and you’ll want to grab that snorkeling gear; this area was covered by a tropical sea! Fast forward to 300 million years ago, and pull out the bug spray, as you watch out for giant dragonflies, spiders and centipedes crawling through a swampy forest. Then, bundle up as you travel to the ice age, about 1.8 million to 12,000 years ago. Be on the lookout for mammoth, giant beavers and even armadillo.

The museum is offering two chances to investigate the past: a Micro-fossil Workshop at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16, and a Fossil Hunt at Vulcan Quarry Saturday, Sept. 29. Both classes will focus on fossils from the sea that used to cover northern Illinois.

A fossil hunter at the 2011 Fossil Hunt at Vulcan Quarry. (Photo provided)

At the Micro-fossil Workshop, participants will learn to sift for fossils and identify them using microscopes as they begin their own collection.

In September, you can head out into the field for a Fossil Hunt at Vulcan Quarry; keep everything you find.

Both classes require registration. Visit www.mmnh.org or call (815) 895-9777 for details about these classes and many others.

Midwest Museum of Natural History is at 425 W. State St., Sycamore, Ill.

From the Aug. 15-21, 2012, issue

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