Museum Musings

Celebrate National Fossil Day with Fernbank Museum

Colossal Fossils
Fernbank Museum celebrates fossils all year long, but we are really excited that Wednesday, October 16, 2013 is National Fossil Day! This annual event is part of a nationwide Earth Science Week, celebrating the importance of fossils, including clues they offer about plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. Here’s an exclusive look at some incredible, delicate fossils that are not normally on view to the public.


Eremotherium, a type of giant ground sloth, lived in North America during the latter part of the most recent Ice Age, from about 700,000 years ago to as recently as 8000 years ago. In 1992, divers found the fossilized bones of this giant ground sloth in the Frederica River. Paleontologists estimate that this specimen is 85% complete. Several bones, including the skull, are on display in A Walk Through Time in Georgia. Look for them next to the lifesized model of a closely-related type of giant ground sloth known as Megatherium.


Petrified Wood
Petrified wood literally means “stony wood”—that is, the original woody plant (often a tree) has been partially or entirely replaced by minerals that percolate through as it lies buried under layers of sediment. Under the right conditions, fine details such as tree rings and cellular structure can be preserved. Different varieties of the mineral quartz give this fossil its beauty. Although this specimen doesn’t show fine details, it is possible to discern a general tree ring pattern.


Excavated from the famous Coon Creek fossil site in western Tennessee, this fossil is approximately 70 million years old. Baculites, like its coiled relative the ammonite, is an extinct member of the cephalopod family, marine animals that include modern squid and octopus. At the time, western Tennessee had a semi-tropical climate located along the shoreline of a vast, shallow inland sea. Coon Creek is famous because of the sheer number and variety of marine fossils that have been identified—over 600—and even more astonishingly, the near original-condition of many of the fossils.


Wooly Mammoth Tooth in Jaw
Wooly mammoths roamed North America, including Georgia, toward the end of the most recent Ice Age, 80,000 to 4,000 years ago.  This fossil was excavated in Alaska and has not been dated.
Mammoths had huge molar teeth at the front of each jaw, two upper and two lower. Each tooth was made up of numerous ridges of hard enamel. Like their elephant relatives, mammoths had six sets of teeth in its lifetime.


Fossil Coral
Found near Bardstown, Kentucky, this fossil is a type of tabulate coral estimated to be 350-400 million years old. Tabulate corals look like a series of organ pipes joined together, and lived together in massive colonies, similar to modern reef-building corals. Millions of years ago, much of what is now the Central and Southeastern United States was covered by vast, shallow oceans. The evidence is found in layers of sedimentary rock, especially limestone, which contain fossils of sea creatures including brachiopods, trilobites and coral.

Learn more about fossils, paleontology and more sciences at Fernbank’s annual Science at Hand Day (November 9).

Written by Fernbank Museum at 15:15

Volunteer of the Month: October

Lynda-Taylor.jpgWe are pleased to honor Linda Taylor as our October Volunteer of the Month.

Linda Taylor loves to see smiles and help people, which is why she loves volunteering with Fernbank Museum. She came to the museum a year ago after she discovered she loved volunteering as an ambassador for the DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In addition to continuing her work with both Fernbank and the DCVB, she juggles the rest of her full and active schedule, including regular yoga and Zumba. Prior to retirement, she worked at Delta, where she handled meetings and group conventions. Linda is looking forward to many more years of volunteering with Fernbank, where she always feels that you get out what you put in!

For information on how to become a volunteer, call 404.929.6360 or

Written by Fernbank Museum at 17:08

Volunteer of the Month: July

Brett-Bannor.jpgWe are pleased to honor Brett Bannor as our July Volunteer of the Month.

Brett has been a volunteer with Fernbank since 2009. He spends his many volunteer hours caring for Fernbank’s live animals. Not only does he help with feeding and daily maintenance, he also performs live animal encounters for our visitors.

Additionally, Brett helps greet visitors and assists our famous Giggy A. Dinosaur mascot. He loves witnessing how excited children get when they see the world’s largest dinosaurs or when they see his dinosaur necktie. When he is not volunteering with Fernbank, you might find him working as a Historic Farmer at the Atlanta History Center’s Smith Family Farm.

For information on how to become a volunteer, call 404.929.6360 or e-mail

Written by Fernbank Museum at 13:52

Volunteer of the Month: June

Blackwell-Family.jpgWe are pleased to honor The Blackwell Family as our June Volunteers of the Month.

Thomas, Will and Mary Anne Blackwell joined Polaris in July 2012 as a way for Thomas to gain independence, work experience and people skills. When not volunteering, Will and Thomas follow sports and attend local sporting events. Mary Anne likes to read, play tennis and is part of a writing group.

What they enjoy most about Fernbank are their fellow volunteers, seeing guests experience the museum, eating at the Fernbank Café and being in a friendly learning environment.

For information on how to become a volunteer, call 404.929.6360 or e-mail

Written by Fernbank Museum at 11:29

Volunteer of the Month: May

AndyPlankenhorn.jpgWe are pleased to honor Andy Plankenhorn as our May Volunteer of the Month.

Andy Plankenhorn is a retired Researcher for Atlanta Public Schools and has been volunteering with Fernbank Museum for 18 years. He originally began volunteering due to his interest in nature studies and his admiration for the Museum. He has a love of the arts, history and culture and spends his spare time gardening and traveling in other countries with his wife. He is a book-lover and also volunteers with the Friends of Decatur Library Book Sale.

Andy’s favorite thing about being part of Fernbank is when a child looks up and says, “thank you!”

Thank you Andy, and to 300+ volunteers that donated more than 17,000 hours of service to Fernbank Museum. We appreciate your dedication and commitment!

If you are interested in giving your time to the Museum, please contact us or 404.929.6360.

Written by Fernbank Museum at 09:22
Welcome to the official blog of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!