(Victor Valley)–On Sunday, May 12, 2013, San Bernardino County Museum Curator of Paleontology Eric Scott will discusses Ice Age fossils from caves in the deserts of the American southwest in his Mothers’ Day presentation, “Cradles in the Desert.” The 2:00 p.m. presentation at the museum in Redlands is included with paid museum admission.
The Mojave Desert of southern California and Nevada holds an amazing record on ancient life. The desert is crossed with numerous mountain ranges made up of marine rocks deposited on ancient seafloors. These rocks contain fossils of small ocean creatures that lived and died, long before dinosaurs walked the Earth. But they can also contain fossils of much more recent animals—animals that lived and died during the Pleistocene Epoch, the “Ice Ages.” These fossils are not preserved in the rocks themselves, but in caves that have eroded into the rocks.
“Caves are amazing resources for paleontologists,” said Scott. “They can be some of the richest fossil troves one can imagine. You have some animals living in caves during the Ice Ages, for example, and bringing their food back to the cave and consuming it there. We find those bones in the cave. When those predators die, their remains are left in the cave as well, and we find those too. Still other animals—like birds of prey–live near caves, and frequently drop pieces of their meals into the caves. Those are still more remains for us to find. As a result, some caves can yield tens of thousands of fossils!”
Caves in the Mojave Desert and throughout the southwest have yielded some wonderful finds, including complete skeletons, abundant small animal fossils, and even occasionally mummified remains. These latter fossils are significant in the search for DNA evidence from the Pleistocene. “Occasionally, one stumbles on some really gorgeous fossils preserved in caves,” Scott continued. “And with the techniques available to us today, we’re able to extract ever more data from these ancient relics.”
The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 5pm. General admission is $8 (adult), $6 (military or senior), $5 (student), and $4 (child aged 5 to 12). Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information, visit www.sb countymuseum.org. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669 ext. 229 or (TDD) 909-792-1462.