When the tax filing deadline approaches in April, you know that it's almost time for … yes, CalDay, UC Berkeley's annual campus-wide open house! This year CalDay fell on Saturday, April 18. For UCMP, this was its 39th open house, the first being in 1977.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Campanile. The centennial celebration of the National Park Service's founding is also occuring this year so the museum highlighted these in both displays and lectures.
The title of the museum's display in the "Fishbowl" described its content nicely: The Campanile and National Park Service Turn 100: A Century of Fossils. Out in the second floor courtyard, UCMP again participated in a collaborative display with the other Berkeley Natural History Museums (BNHM). Here, plant and invertebrate fossils collected from four national park lands were exhibited.
UCMP Curator and Integrative Biology Professor Kevin Padian gave a parks-related lecture on the ancient ecosystem represented by the rocks in Petrified Forest National Park. Museum Scientist Erica Clites also gave a park-themed lecture on the monitoring of fossil resources in national parks. The fossils that occupy five floors of the Campanile were described by undergraduate Eric Holt in a lecture with the great title Game of Bones: Dire Wolves and Other Denizens of Berkeley's Campanile.
A fourth lecture was presented by UCMP Curator and Integrative Biology Professor Tony Barnosky. It was based on his new book: Dodging Extinction: Power, Food, Money, and the Future of Life on Earth. Following his talk, Tony sold and signed copies of his book.
Other activities included the ever popular "Fun with Fossils," in which kids both young and old can look for vertebrate microfossils; tours of the museum's collections (the free tickets for these are usually gone within the first two or three hours of the morning); and sales of UCMP tee shirts. This year we brought back Tyrannosaurus rex, but also had a new design featuring a dire wolf skull. Since this is the Campanile's centennial, the dire wolf was an easy choice (there are more bones of dire wolves in the Campanile than of any other vertebrate).
Even though the Valley Life Sciences Building is probably the single most visited building on CalDay, many participants felt that attendance was down from previous years. It could have been the beautiful weather there were just too many other things to do on such a nice day. Nevertheless, UCMP's public lectures, displays, and activities proved to be as popular as ever!