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Crinois at "Vanessa's Reef," Kimbe Bay, New Britain, Papua New Guinea (on
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Crinoid at Grand Bahama Island (on
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MAPS Fossil Expo XXXI: Crinoids! April 3-5 at WIU

March 25, 2009

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MACOMB, IL - - The largest exclusive showing of fossils in the world comes to Western Illinois University in Macomb with the National Fossil Exposition XXXI: Crinoids! Friday-Sunday, April 3-5.

Held in Western Hall, expo hours are 8 a.m,-5 p.m. Friday (April 3) and Saturday (April 4) and 8 a.m.-noon Sunday (April 5). Admission and parking are free.

Presented by the Mid America Paleontology Society (MAPS), the annual show brings fossil enthusiasts from across the nation, as well as Canada and overseas, to Western Illinois to view, sell and purchase fossils.

William Ausich, professor of geological sciences at The Ohio State University, will present the keynote speech at 7 p.m. Friday (April 3) in Western Hall titled, "These are not the Crinoids Your Granddaddy Knew."

Crinoids, which have been around since the Paleozoic Era, are also called sea lilies and feather stars. On The Tree of Life web project (, Ausich says, "Although crinoids are the least understood of living echinoderms, their skeletal remains are among the most abundant and important of fossils. They appeared during the Lower Ordovician and underwent several major radiations during the Paleozoic Era. Crinoids were major carbonate producing organisms during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic. In fact, in many Paleozoic and Mesozoic settings entire carbonate shelves were composed predominantly of crinoidal remains."

On Saturday (April 4), a silent auction will be held during show hours, followed by a 7 p.m. live auction.

In addition, Western Illinois' geology department, located in Tillman Hall, will hold an open house from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4; and there will be free tours of Western's Geology Museum, also in Tillman Hall. The museum lets visitors get a close-up look at life-like casts of the teeth and skull of the meat-eating dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex and other prehistoric animals; view a colorful mural depicting Earth history; find out how the continents move and how mountains are formed; learn about fossils, minerals and rocks and much more, in displays that use strong graphics and bright colors to make the subjects interesting and fun, according to Curator Bob Johnson.

School groups (K-12) are welcome to attend the MAPS National Fossil Expo, Western's geology department open house and tour the Geology Museum. For more information or to arrange a museum tour, contact Johnson at or call (309) 298-1368. Contact WIU Parking Services at (309) 298-1921 for bus unloading and parking directions.

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