The Fossil Record: 'Bone up' on fossil smarts

<I>The Eagle/Jill Mallory</I><BR>A fossil is being dug out from rock in the lab at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

The Grand Opening of the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is coming up. On Aug. 13, we'll all have a chance to participate in the celebration. Now, a lot of people from far away will be attending, and some of them are probably going to ask us some questions about the John Day Fossil Beds and the rocks around our homes out here in the hinterlands, because they know we live here and "know the area." Right? So, here's your chance to test your knowledge now before you "bone up" for the day. Answers in box.

1. 45 million years ago, the area around Sheep Rock looked:

a) pretty much like it does now, but with more sheep and a lot less people

b) much drier and dustier than it is today, with giant cactuses and 3-horned camels

c) like New Jersey but without the refineries

d) similar to modern-day Costa Rica, with bananas and crocodiles.

2. The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is named for a man who was the first:

a) trapper to visit this region with the John Jacob Astor fur expedition

b) Director of the Oregon State Parks

c) settler to homestead the area of the town named for him

d) Professor of Geology at the University of Oregon and State Geologist.

3. One of the most abundant fossils found in the John Day area is Metasequoia, the "dawn redwood", which has been:

a) proven to be a direct ancestor of the modern Giant Sequoia trees

b) protected in a special grove near Aldrich Mountain

c) sold at an auction for 7 million dollars

d) named the Oregon State Fossil this year.

4. If you collect a plant fossil outside of the National Monument boundaries, such as land administered by the Bureau of Land Management, or the Forest Service, you will:

a) be committing a felony with a maximum sentence of 2 years and $10,000

b) be committing a misdemeanor with a $100 fine

c) be scolded and encouraged to place it back where you found it

d) be doing something perfectly legal and appropriate.

5. Picture Gorge formed when:

a) a tremendous earthquake caused the earth to suddenly split open

b) earth was hit by an asteroid like the one that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct

c) a very thrifty rancher lost a quarter down a rabbit hole and tried to dig it up

d) the John Day river gradually cut through the basalts.

6. The Clarno Nut Beds is:

a) a new sleeping facility for people with strange ideas near the town of Fossil

b) where the first petrified wood was discovered in Oregon

c) home of Kamwahchungia, a mysterious Chinese fossil herb

d) where more species of fossil wood than anywhere on earth have been found.

7. Which of these extinct fossilized forms of life has been found in central Oregon?

a) Tyrannosaurus rex and some of the other Jurassic Park critters

b) Enormous cave bears and ground sloths

c) petrified golf balls the size of hail

d) giant sabertoothed salmon and horned rodents.

8. Fossils collected with a permit on National Park Service lands are currently stored in:

a) Jack's llama barn on the Southworth Ranch in Seneca

b) Greg's warehouse for Jackson Oil, Inc.

c) Branda's basement at the Snaffle Bit Restaurant

d) The public's new climate-controlled museum downstream from Dayville.

9. What is now 9,038 foot high Strawberry Mountain is the remains of:

a) a vast inland sea populated by sharks and plesiosaurs

b) one of the asteroids that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct

c) a top-secret government project

d) a massive volcano that erupted over 12 million years ago.

10. A really good reason to attend the Grand Opening of the Paleontology Center is:

a) there's no football on TV

b) you just might catch a glimpse of Bigfoot

c) there won't be any alcohol permitted

d) to celebrate the opening of the world's newest paleontology museum.

• Ted Fremd is the chief paleontologist at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The park may be reached at 987-2333.

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