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Find the freeway of fossils on Whidbey Island

This fossil map is by artist Ray Troll from his and Kirk Johnson’s book “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway: An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-Mile Paleo Road Trip.”  - Photo courtesy of Julia Swan
This fossil map is by artist Ray Troll from his and Kirk Johnson’s book “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway: An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-Mile Paleo Road Trip.”
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Julia Swan

Cruise the pre-historic highway for a fun, fossil-filled trip back in time.

Ammonites, trilobites and mastodons are just a few of the fossils to be seen when the Washington State Fossil Freeway brings its traveling exhibit to the Island County Historical Museum on Saturday, Feb. 5.

Fossils have long been a subject of fascination and are used by paleontologists to help answer questions about early life on Earth, and they are all around Washington state. But scientists want to take the exploration a step further and find out what the fossil record can reveal about evolution, extinction and geologic time.

“Cruisin’ the Washington State Fossil Freeway” is an exhibit that features a specially commissioned Washington State fossil map by artist Ray Troll, along with other whimsical, fossil-inspired artwork by the artist. Three displays feature real fossils from a collection of Seattle’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. The displays feature an ammonite, fossilized plant lives, and a cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth. Interpretive text panels help viewers understand the tale of prehistoric life and death in Washington State.

“Cruisin’ the Washington State Fossil Freeway” was organized by the Burke Museum in collaboration with Troll and Kirk Johnson, authors of the book “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway: An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-Mile Paleo Road Trip” published by Fulcrum Books in 2007.

Local sponsorship for Cruisin’ the Washington Fossil Freeway is provided courtesy of Derle and Carmen Solheim.

The exhibit runs until April 17.

The Island County Historical Museum is at 908 Alexander St. in Coupeville. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $3 for adults, $2.50 for senior/student/military and $6 for a family of three. Members and children younger than 5 are free.

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