Digging Up Big Surprises In Iowa

Jan 7, 2014

Credit Illinois State Museum

Iowa and Illinois have a lot in common, but look below the surface to see some important differences.  That's what paleontologists have been doing for decades.  Their work has resulted in the discovery of fossils that show prehistoric giant camels and mammoths once called Iowa home.  That work and more will be part of a lecture Wednesday night in Springfield. 

Chris Widga, Assistant Curator of Geology at the Illinois State Museum, will deliver a presentation "Recent Adventures in Iowa Paleontology." 

"As you hit central and western Iowa, you start picking up some much older deposits.  Therefore, you get a much different kind of paleontology," Widga said.   That includes camels, mammoth, muskox and more. 

Some of the fossils have been out of the ground for nearly a century, but Widga says they weren't always described well.  Researchers today are filling in the informational gaps.

Widga says some fossils will be available for view at Wednesday night's event.  The lecture is free to attend.  It begins at 7 p.m. at the Research and Collections Center, 1011 East Ash Street in Springfield.