Thursday, September 23, 2010
Natural History and Supernatural History
A mass of crinoid stem fragments from the collection of the Kentucky Paleontological Society
In addition to the numerous fossil and mineral vendors, the Falls of the Ohio Fossil Fest was also attended by local organizations dedicated to natural history outreach and education. The Kentucky Paleontological Society had a particularly wonderful set of locally gathered fossils in display cases. I was impressed with the care taken to identify and prepare them. Fossil prep is one of those sweet spots where art and science meet, and it was clear that some strong TLC went into these.
KPS president Dan Phelps presided over one of the day's four presentations on local natural history, giving an informative, often humorous overview of Precambrian fossils. He also brought along an impressive collection of them, which people were pretty excited to get to examine up close. Unfortunately, my low-light photography skills are pretty rotten, so I don't have many good shots of this part of the day (save for the Australian stromatolite below). The KPS is providing a valuable service to the region; I was stunned to learn that Kentucky doesn't actually have a natural history museum. I talked to Phelps about this sad fact, and with a slight note of bitterness, he quipped that the state could only boast a "supernatural history museum."
The Future of Under Indiana
When I first posted about the festival on Monday, I wrote that there would be a weeklong series on it. As I thought about it more, I decided that going forward, it would be more appropriate not to fold those sort of posts into this blog. One of the takeaways from the festival was how much of a need there was for more of a web presence dedicated to Indiana natural history, especially something more 2.0. We need a flexible, dynamic way for people to share what they know and further educate themselves.
As a first step, I've begun another science blog. It's called Under Indiana, naturally, and I'll be doing all of my local interest writing there, unless some nutty farmer overturns everything we know about Indiana geology by finding a pterosaur on his land.
Feel free to follow me there, if reading about natural history of a smallish midwestern state gets your kettle boiling. There's not much there yet, and I probably won't be posting as much as I do here. But I'm as dedicated to making it readable, fun, and informative as I am here.