The Museum will create a cast of a local fossil sea cow specimen for the Santa Cruz Sandhills Exploration outdoor education program.
The aim of this project is to create a cast of a 12 million-year-old sea cow fossil from the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History's collection. This fossil cast will be used in a mystery fossil dig activity for our Sandhills Exploration Program for middle school students.
About the Sandhills
The Santa Cruz Sandhills are a unique community of plants and animals found only on outcrops of Zayante sand soil in the central portion of Santa Cruz county. The Zayante soils are derived from sediment deposited over 15 million years ago when the region was under the vast sea, and they contain a variety of marine fossils, including deep beds of sand dollars and even sea cow fossils.
In 2008, a small group of dedicated individuals came together to save this extraordinarily rare habitat which is home to seven species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Since 2010, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History has worked as a partner with the Land Trust taking middle school students from all over Santa Cruz County on field trips to Randall Morgan preserve in Scotts Valley.
About the Sandhills Exploration Program
This field trip, designed and executed by the Museum, has three components: students take the lead in an active restoration project pulling out invasive broom and acacia plants, they go on an exploration hike to further discover the endangered Sandhills habitat, and play the role of paleontologist in a mystery fossil dig. In the mystery fossil dig, students currently uncover composite wood with painted bones on it, but they all want a more authentic experience.
We plan to construct a sea cow fossil cast, with the help of local geologist and paleontologist Frank Perry, to provide students with a realistic experience in finding and removing a fossil. The funds from this project will be used directly for the materials to mold and cast these sea cow fossils, and to support Frank Perry's time.
Learn more about the Sandhills Program:
About the Museum
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History was been bringing the delights and wonders of the natural world to Santa Cruz residents and visitors for over 100 years. Its mission is: Connecting people with nature and inspiring stewardship of the natural world.
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The only foreseeable challenge might by the availability of the fossil preparator, but he was a part of the original excavation in the 1970s and is highly attached to this project.
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