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Lecture on Ice Age caves at Victor Valley Museum
On Saturday, May 10, 2014, San Bernardino County Museum Curator of Paleontology Eric Scott will discuss Ice Age fossils from caves in the Mojave Desert in his Mothers’ Day Weekend presentation, “Cradles in the Desert: Ice Age Caves of the Mojave Desert.” The 2 p.m. presentation at the Victor Valley Museum is included with paid museum admission.
The Mojave Desert of southern California and Nevada holds an amazing record on ancient life. The desert is crossed with numerous mountain ranges made of marine rocks deposited as ancient seafloors. These rocks contain fossils of small ocean creatures that lived and died, long before dinosaurs walked the Earth. But they can also contain fossils of much more recent animals—animals that lived and died during the Pleistocene Epoch, the “Ice Ages.” These fossils are not preserved in the rocks themselves, but in caves that have eroded into the rocks.
“Caves are amazing resources for paleontologists,” said Scott. “They can be some of the richest fossil troves one can imagine. Some caves can yield tens of thousands of fossils!”
Caves in the Mojave Desert and throughout the southwest have yielded some wonderful finds, including complete skeletons, abundant small animal fossils, and even occasionally mummified remains. These latter fossils are significant in the ongoing search for DNA evidence from the Pleistocene. “Occasionally, one stumbles on some really gorgeous fossils preserved in caves,” Scott says. “And with the techniques available to us today, we’re able to extract ever more data from these ancient relics.”
Scott’s lecture will showcase some of these remarkable finds, discussing how cave fossils have opened up new avenues of paleontological exploration. He will also present new information on his ongoing studies of beautifully-preserved fossils of extinct Ice Age horses from Gypsum Cave, Nevada.
The Victor Valley Museum is a branch of the San Bernardino County Museum located at 11873 Apple Valley Road in Apple Valley. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 (adult), $4 (senior or military), and $2.50 (student). Children under 5 and San Bernardino County Museum Association members are free. Parking is free. For more information, visit www.sbcountymuseum.org. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669.