Dec 17: Join us Live for a Mystery Fossil Unwrapping

Mystery fossil in front of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory
The mystery fossil, wrapped in plaster and topped with a bow, in front of the Vertebrate Paleontology Collections.

Thousands of fossils remain under wraps at The University of Texas at Austin waiting for paleontologists to open them up and discover their identity.

The UT Jackson School of Geosciences is celebrating the holiday season by unwrapping one on Facebook Live!

Instead of tearing through paper and tinsel, The Jackson School’s fossil preparator, Kenneth Bader, will be cutting through thick layers of a plaster jacket to reveal the fossil inside.

The fossil is one of many collected between 1939 and 1941 as part of a Works Progress Administration program overseen by the Jackson School’s Bureau of Economic Geology during the Great Depression. The program employed hundreds of Texans in need of work as trainee fossil hunters. The workers found and excavated tens of thousands of fossils across the state before encasing them in their protective plaster cases and bringing them to UT for study.

Over the years, scientists have opened a number of the jackets to study the fossils inside. A collection of nearly 4,000 specimens from Beeville, Texas, paints a picture of a vibrant “Texas Serengeti.” The fossils include rhinos, alligators, elephant-like gomphotheres, and others, that called the Texas Gulf Coast home 11 million to 12 million years ago.

But many of the fossils still remain a mystery, blanketed in plaster and kept as part of the Jackson School’s scientific collections for decades. Join us on December 17 as we find open up a fossil jacket, and find out what’s inside.

Mystery Fossil Unwrapping

December 17 | 11 a.m. CT

Facebook Live:

Facebook account not required to watch!


Want a sneak peek of what’s in store? Check out this series by our Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory that delves into the whole fossil preparation process.


For more information, contact: Anton Caputo, Jackson School of Geosciences, 512-232-9623; Monica Kortsha, Jackson School of Geosciences, 512-471-2241.