Fossilmania runs wild in Iowa City this weekend

-- photo by Robert Payne
Fossil Expo XXXVI runs from April 4-6. — photo by Robert Payne

In the midst the hubbub of the seemingly omnipresent Mission Creek events this week, you might miss out on “the largest show in the world that exhibits fossils exclusively.”

Fossil Expo XXXVI is fun, free and just on the outskirts of town at Sharpless Auctions (5049 Herbert Hoover Hwy. NE). The event’s hosts, the Mid-America Paleontology Society (MAPS), say that their club is for “the novice who wants to know more about these treasures from the past, for the old-timers who have so much expertise and knowledge to share with the rest of us, and for all those who fall in-between who share our love of fossils.”

Fossil Expo XXXVI is a lot more than just a convention for aficionados of impressions of life forged into our earth, which might as well have once been an alien planet full of dinosaurs bedecked in all manner of teeth and fangs; a planet pumping out all kinds of oxygen and trilobites unfathomable distances of time before humans were around to sell Hawkeye merchandise and watch Cosmos. No, Fossil Expo XXXVI is a veritable living, breathing community of historians, paleontologists and appreciators of the preserved art that is life itself. At this public gathering, visitors from around the country will see fossils, talk fossils; buy, sell and even swap fossils. It’s fossilmania for experts and novices alike.

Equal parts history museum, symposium and interactive show-and-tell, Fossil Expo XXXVI is an all-ages interactive extravaganza of hands-on learning. In fact, if you’re a schoolteacher, MAPS members are known to gift fossils to classrooms.

This year’s theme is the Mississippian Period. Brigham Young University’s Forest Gahn will give the keynote address, “Mississippian: The Age of Crinoids” at 5:15 p.m. Friday, April 4. All weekend long, fossil experts will give presentations including “Stump the Experts—Bring your fossils to ID” and “Beast Foot! Predatory Dinosaurs Large and Small.”

Fossil Expo XXXVI runs this Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., as well as Sunday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.