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David Boehnlein is a retired physicist and freelance writer.
Interests: I'm interested in paleontology and I love to travel, hence the Paleo-Tourist blog. My other interests include physics, astronomy, science fiction and beer, not necessarily in that order.
Recent Activity
In these days of pandemic, it’s not a good time to be a tourist of any kind. But here’s a recap of a trip I took last year. A great many of the tools, weapons, and artwork left to us by the people of prehistory come from Dordogne, France. The... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2020 at The Paleo-Tourist
In the last article, we visited the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. Staying in Nebraska, we travel 300 miles eastward, through the Niobrara Valley and 8 million years forward in time. Here, not far from where the Niobrara meets the Missouri River, we find the Ashfall Fossil Beds. This is... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2018 at The Paleo-Tourist
Last summer, I went to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in the Nebraska panhandle. The park was once part of the Agate Springs Ranch, owned by James Cook in the late 1800’s. Cook was a frontier scout who settled down to ranching and, fortunately, had an interest in natural history.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2018 at The Paleo-Tourist
The Virginia Living Museum recently held an Ice Age Weekend and I volunteered to work at the Collections Table, where I spent a few hours explaining to visitors the difference between mammoths and mastodons and watching kids recoil from a coprolite. But the highlight of the day came afterward when... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2018 at The Paleo-Tourist
Meteorites are an unusual kind of fossil but I recently wrote an article on them for Astronomy magazine: Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at The Paleo-Tourist
Master Naturalists are volunteers who provide education, citizen science and help manage natural areas in their communities. Every state in the union has a Master Naturalist program and I recommend it for those who love nature, science and the outdoors. I recently accompanied the Peninsula Chapter of the Virginia Master... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2017 at The Paleo-Tourist
I was at the Virginia Living Museum again this week and stopped to look at the Dinosaur With No Name. It’s a colorful, life-sized dinosaur that seems to leap at the visitors viewing it, just missing them with a snap of its sharp-toothed jaws. The sculpture is a representation, as... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at The Paleo-Tourist
I spent yesterday morning volunteering at the Virginia Living Museum. Usually I volunteer in the observatory, showing off sunspots and solar prominences with a telescope. But on rainy days like this, I go inside and work in the Virginia Underground exhibit. This exhibit includes a section on the fossils of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
Monica Jurik has created a monster. The Tully Monster, to be specific. It’s the state fossil of Illinois, a prehistoric creature found nowhere in the world except in the Mazon Creek fossil beds 50 miles southwest of Chicago. Although these fossils are the best in the world to represent the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
Last Saturday I spent a few hours helping out as a volunteer at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. The museum is currently hosting an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs, but the main attraction on Saturday was the fossil collection of Jim Rollings, retired director of the Science Museum of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
The Chippokes Plantation State Park in Virginia is an historic plantation on the James River. It is still a working farm and features a Farm & Forestry Museum, camping, hiking and equestrian trails. It is also a site to find fossils. Most of the Tidewater area was covered by the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
On my recent trip to Japan, I was able to follow up on a couple of articles I’d written earlier about the Stanford fossil of the ancient aquatic mammal Paleoparadoxia repenningi. For 20 years a cast of the fossil stood on display at the SLAC visitors center in Menlo Park,... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
Last month I was in Tokyo and I went to Ueno Park to see the cherry trees in bloom. The park is filled with birds seeking nectar from the flowers as well as Japan’s history, like the tombstones of soldiers who fell defending the last shogunate. And for the paleo-tourist,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
Last week I was back at Virginia’s York River State Park for one of a series of spring break events called the Fossil Frenzy. The event lasted about two hours and was conducted by two park rangers, who introduced themselves as John and Carl. It drew about 20 participants, many... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
After leaving Albuquerque, I continued through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, but I didn't make any more paleontology stops until I reached my destination state. Tucked away in the southwest corner of Virginia just a few miles off of Interstate 81, there lies the small but interesting town... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
The Paleo-Tourist is pleased to present its first-ever guest column. The following is an exclusive report to the Paleo-Tourist from Toronto, Ontario by Mrs. Paleo-Tourist. Due to the epic 2016 snowstorm along the east coast in the US, I found myself forced to extend a business trip in Toronto. Being... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
Continuing down Interstate 40, I left Arizona and entered New Mexico. I hit Albuquerque around lunch time and I figured there had to be a cafeteria at the local natural history museum. With that excuse, I pulled off the highway to visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2016 at The Paleo-Tourist
2015 has been a busy year for this paleo-tourist. It’s nearly over now and I still haven’t finished writing up my summer road trip. I left off in Arizona’s Petrified Forest and before I move on I’ll revisit an encounter there. As I was walking on the Long Logs Trail,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2015 at The Paleo-Tourist
Paleo-Dave is now following EPOD - a service of USRA
Aug 27, 2015
If I could visit only one paleo-destination in the United States, I would choose the Petrified Forest. The names of the locales within this national park – The Painted Desert, the Rainbow Forest, Blue Mesa – are evocative of the natural beauty of the place. Although the name “Petrified Forest”... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2015 at The Paleo-Tourist
Amateur paleontology lost a good friend this week with the passing of Barb Hill Benson. Barb was a leader in the Utah Friends of Paleontology Castle Valley Chapter and worked with the Prehistoric Museum in Price, Utah, as well as in the prep lab at Utah State University Eastern. A... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2015 at The Paleo-Tourist
The next stop on my road trip came as I was driving through Coconino County, Arizona along a section of Interstate 40 that used to be part of the famous Route 66. I was looking forward to seeing the Petrified Forest, but a sign informed me that I was not... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2015 at The Paleo-Tourist
The first stop on my road trip was Ernst Quarries, site of a rich deposit of Miocene fossils near Bakersfield, California. The Ernst Quarries are located near Sharktooth Hill, which yielded the first fossils in America to be found west of the Rocky Mountains. The hill actually does bear a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2015 at The Paleo-Tourist
It’s been nearly 3 weeks since I set out on a road trip across the United States and I’m now settling in to the great Commonwealth of Virginia. My trip took me from the San Francisco Bay to the Chesapeake in 9 days, arriving at last in Yorktown. The USA... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2015 at The Paleo-Tourist
Summer is here and the paleo-tourist is set for a road trip. For the next week or so, I'll be driving across the USA, setting out from the San Francisco Bay area and heading for the Chesapeake. I'll be seeking out paleontological points of interest along the way, so let's... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2015 at The Paleo-Tourist