Paleontologist Lance Grande hosted a book event at Kemmerer’s South Lincoln Training and Events Center on Wednesday, June 28, to discuss his new book, “Curators: Behind the Scenes of Natural History Museums.”
The event was sponsored by the Kemmerer Rotary Club and Fossil Butte National Monument.
Grande’s presentation and book signing drew a diverse crowd, including staff members from the Chicago Field Museum, Fossil Butte National Monument staff, area quarry operators, Grande’s Stones and Bones expedition crew, and locals interested in fossil fish.
Grande said his new book has been a great project exploring the long tradition of curators.
Grande is a curator in the paleontology division of the Field Museum of Chicago.
Grande said he first became interested in fossils when he received a Green River fossil as a gift from a friend in college. He asked one of his professors more about it, and that professor encouraged him to take a paleontology course, which would eventually shape his entire career.
Grande wrote a thesis on the Green River formation. He has worked in the Kemmerer area for nearly 30 years, and was instrumental in the development of the Fossil Butte National Monument visitors’ center.
“The site just west of Kemmerer is one of the most important fossil areas in the world,” Grande said. “It is a 52-million-year-old community locked in stone.”
Grande praised the local quarry operators for all the work they do, including donating many of their finds to the Fossil Butte visitors’ center and the Field Museum in Chicago.
“The only pike fish fossil that was ever found here, they donated,” Grande said.
Grande acknowledged the presence of his Stones and Bones students.
Every year, Grande and several aspiring paleontologists spend a week camping at a quarry near Fossil Butte digging for fossils. They then take their finds back to Chicago to study.
“Over the years, I’ve taken more than 200 prospective scientists out here to Kemmerer,” Grande said.
Grande told stories of his work with the iconic Sue the T-Rex, his work to “fight against science illiteracy” and his many adventures as a museum curator and paleontologist.
Then Grande signed copies of his books. Levi Rudy was probably the youngest to get a book signed. He was wearing a “Jurassic World” shirt, and seemed pretty excited to see Grande.