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Fossils and Rocks Star in Earth Science Celebration at Falls on the Colorado

Ron Nichols examines the skull of Rockie, the 700-year-old remains of a female bison that’s the inspiration for the latest event at the Falls on the Colorado Museum: an Earth Science Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 14. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

MARBLE FALLS — Though she’s been dead for hundreds of years, Rockie is making things happen at the Falls on the Colorado Museum.

The 700-year-old bison skeleton, named after Rocky Creek in Briggs where she was dug up by Ryan Murray, is the inspiration behind the museum’s latest event: an Earth Science Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 14. Admission is free.

The event coincides with Earth Science Week, which is Oct. 8-14, and National Fossil Day, which is Oct. 11.

While only her skull is currently on display at the museum, the rest of Rockie is coming soon as the museum is accepting donations to complete the exhibit. The bones are on indefinite loan from Murray.

You can see Rockie as well as rocks and other fossils at the Earth Science Celebration on Saturday.

The event begins at 1 p.m. with a 30-minute presentation on fossils by Kenny Bader of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

At 1:45 p.m., Dr. Frank Caramanica, Charles Beierle, and Billy Hutson, three geologists from the Upper Highland Lakes Nature Center in Burnet County, will talk about local geology.

The four will be available after their talks to identify fossils and rocks that people bring to the event.

For the past couple of years, Dr. Tom Hester led an archeology program at the museum that drew hundreds of people wanting him to help them identify fossils they had acquired.

“It was really chaotic,” museum chairwoman Darlene Oostermeyer said. “Dr. Tom wanted a break.”

Bader is working to stabilize Rockie’s bones into a complete skeleton for the museum’s exhibit and agreed to fill in on ID duty.

“He said, ‘I’d love to do fossil identification,’” Oostermeyer said. “People have fossils around their house, and they want to know what they are. Everybody brought in Indian artifacts. Dr. Tom told them off the top of his head what they are.”

When she invited Hutson to the celebration, he mentioned Beierle, who works in research and development, and Frank, a geologist.

“They know geology and know what rocks they’re looking at,” Oostermeyer said.

She noted the most common question museum visitors ask is why the city is named Marble Falls.

“We’ll educate people on limestone and marble,” she said. “It’s going to be a big show-and-tell. We’ll ask people to bring in what they want identified. These guys should be able to help.”

The Falls on the Colorado Museum is located at 2001 Broadway St. in Marble Falls. Hours of operation are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.

Go to fallsmuseum.org or call (830) 798-2157 for more information on the museum or the Earth Science Celebration.

You can also donate to Rockie’s restoration on the website. The goal is $12,000, and as of Oct. 5, more than $9,000 had been raised.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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