Fossil Boot Camp for PCC Historical Geology Students

by Cindy Smith

Picture 1 – Two PCC students learning to use loupes
Picture 2 – PCC instructor Steve Wolfe explains the oyster Devil’s toenail to a student

Fremont Stones ‘n Bones introduced 16 Pueblo Community College students to fossils in Steve Wolfe’s Historical Geology class.  Few had any prior experience with fossils or knowledge of Fremont County’s rich paleontology heritage.

Familiarity with local fossils helps the students understand and identify local sedimentary layers when on class field trips.

Each student received two containers with 8 large and 24 small fossils plus a loupe.  Harold Taylor led the 3 hour presentation and students received a grab bag fossil at the end of the class.

The presentation stressed not only where/when the fossils lived and their anatomy, but also the importance paleontology plays in biostratigraphy and paleogeography.

It’s a pleasure and an honor to provide people’s first experience with paleontology, to watch and hear their reaction when they see the eyes of a trilobite, the complex sutures on an ammonite, the exquisite geometry of a crinoid columnal, learn that the three most complete Stegosaurs in the world came from their backyard, understand that stromatolites were responsible for an atmosphere full of oxygen, and see barbs on insect legs trapped in amber.

Fossil Boot Camp always ends with instruction on responsible collecting, including securing adequate provenance and the parameters involved in legal collecting.