Don ‘The Fossil Guy’ Johnson returns with fall series of family-friendly events

Don Johnson returns
Tyrannosaurus teeth: perfect for crushing bone and getting that tasty marrow. — photo by Andrew Fleming

Paleontologist Don “The Fossil Guy” Johnson returns to the UI’s Museum of Natural History this Saturday at 2 p.m. to kick off his fall series of family-oriented presentations.

His first presentation, dubbed “Twilight of the Dinosaur Age,” focuses specifically on predators, and includes a lecture, audience Q&A and hands-on interaction with Johnson’s extensive assortment of fossils and replicas.

Johnson’s collection is the largest privately owned collection in Iowa, and boasts more than 1,000 items, including bones, eggs, teeth, claws and plants. His items span the Cretaceous Period (80 million years ago) to the Pleistocene Period (10,000 years ago). Some of his most prized items include a near-complete juvenile duck-billed dinosaur skeleton, T. Rex and Smilodon (saber-tooth cat) teeth, and an Allosaurus skull replica.

Johnson’s fall presentation series will continue through the month of November, with “Survivor Among the Mammals” on Nov. 8 and “Become a Pleistocene Private Eye” on Nov. 15. All three presentations are free to the public, and take place at the UI’s Museum of Natural History.

The “Fossil Guy” series is part of Johnson’s Eastern Iowa Paleontology Project (EIPP). Launched in 1999, it has been his mission to educate and entertain others on prehistory and paleontology. He has conducted over 150 presentations throughout Iowa, which have garnered praise for being informative and fun for all ages. Johnson also works as a clerk at UI in association with the Museum of Natural History, where he has been conducting family-friendly presentations since 2002.

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