Press Room -- Illinois State Museum, Springfield
See dinosaur footprints, touch a Tully Monster, vote for your favorite fossil
SPRINGFIELD – On October 12, the Illinois State Museum is celebrating National Fossil Day, with many opportunities for visitors to see fossils up close, touch specimens, and learn more about fossils from Dr. Jeff Saunders, Museum paleontologist and Chair of Geology. From 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. children visiting the Play Museum will have the chance to examine fossils under the video microscope and vote for their favorite, as well as make fossil rubbings. Docents will be present in the Changes exhibition to answer questions and allow visitors to see additional fossils up close. From 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Dr. Jeff Saunders will be in the Play Museum to share some of his personal favorites, such as a Dilophosaurus dinosaur footprint, teeth from a Megalodon giant shark, a woolly mammoth tooth, and other fossils from the Museum’s collections. Visitors will also receive a commemorative bookmark.
The Museum has internationally acclaimed fossils in its collections, many of which are on display in the Changes: Dynamic Illinois Environments exhibition. The Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum also includes many fossils, including the Illinois State fossil the Tully Monster, which children can handle and examine.
This is the second National Fossil Day celebration organized by the National Park Service to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values.. The Illinois State Museum is participating as part of its mission to promote discovery, lifelong learning, and stewardship of Illinois' natural, cultural, and artistic heritage.
The Museum’s geology collections include over 200,000 specimens. The specimens are the foundation for exhibitions and public programs and are used for research by scholars all over the world. The Museum has an outstanding collection of plant and animal fossils from the Mazon Creek area, which is recognized as one of the best preserved and richest assemblages of fossils in the world. The Museum is also known internationally for having the most significant collection of American Mastodont fossils. The vertebrate paleontology collection consists of over 50,000 specimens and is one of the best Ice Age mammal fossil collections in North America. “Type specimens” are tremendously important because they are the specimens first used to describe a species. The Museum’s collections include dozens of type invertebrates, 6 fish types, and many more type plant fossils. The Changes exhibition features hundreds of spectacular fossils from the Museum’s vast collections, and the rest are housed at the Museum’s Research and Collections Center. The Museum's extensive collections and research activities provide the foundation for exhibitions and public programs that tell the story of the land, life, people, and art of Illinois. The Museum is located at 502 S. Spring St. (the corner of Spring and Edwards Streets) in Springfield, and is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Parking is available nearby, and the building is ADA accessible.