Dinosaur fossils make fun day for local children, parents

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"I love science and this is so exciting; it's the first time I've seen dinosaur bones," exclaimed Dennise Collins, 9, following a presentation Saturday by the Dino Seekers, Joe and Frona Fileccia. The couple hosted a free educational exhibit of their fossil and dinosaur bone collection at Frontier Fitness in Benson, an event that attracted several youngsters and adults.

"A fossil hunter does not kill - he resurrects," said Frona during the event's introduction. "We always try to bring a piece of each part of the dinosaur while we're out on our digs. We've discovered some rare dinosaurs and some common ones. You're going to see some of our collection here today and take something home with you."

The couple talked about sea creatures, fossils, a rare T-Rex wishbone found on one of their digs, huge bison skulls, and a 68-pound T-Rex corpulite, or poop, that they have in storage.

The presentation featured a small sampling of the Fileccias' extensive collection, as the majority of their larger pieces are in storage in Michigan.

"We live in a fifth wheel, so we don't have room for our largest bones," Frona told the group. "Most of our collection is in storage, but the samples we brought with us today are a nice range of the kinds of things that we find on our digs."

In their search for bones and fossils, the couple digs primarily on ranches in eastern Montana in a fossil-rich area called the Hell Creek Formation.

Several school-aged children attended Saturday's presentation, where they learned about different bones as well as what part of a dinosaur they came from and their function. Following the presentation, the youngsters were invited to touch the bones on display and ask questions. The exhibit included a duckbill jawbone, a 30-million-year-old turtle shell, a giant occipital condoyle, a T-Rex rib and much more.

The event made quite an impression on Collins, who says she loves all areas of science and wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up.

"If my parents ever take me to Montana, I really want to dig for dinosaur bones," she said, holding out the bone shard she picked out to take home. "They said this is from a triceratops frill. I think it's awesome."

"In the Hell Creek Formation where we dig, we find T-Rex, duckbill, triceratops and some raptors, (to name a few)" said Joe while talking to 12-year-old Bryce Petrey. "The dinosaurs we find are from the 65- to 70-million-year-old range."

Petrey, a seventh-grader at St. David middle school, said, "I really liked the display and presentation. I learned a lot about fossils and dinosaur bones." She, too, was taking home a piece of triceratops frill for her dinosaur bone sample. "My favorite bone was the T-Rex rib - it's huge," she said.

While the event was primarily geared for children, several adults attended as well. Tom Olson, a local geologist who collects fossils in Arizona, has a non-profit organization called "Geology for Kids" where he teaches fossil collection and science classes to children of all ages. "My goal is to introduce kids to the world of geology and paleontology." When asked what he thought of the Fileccias' presentation, Olson said, "I thought it was great. This gets the kids excited because they were able to see the real bones and touch them. And then they got to take a bone with them, and that really got them excited. We need more activities like this for kids."

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


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