On Saturday, April 8, 2023, the Alabama Museum of Natural History and the Alabama Paleontological Society will be hosting a free fossil Track Meet from 11 am until 3:30 pm. During this event, paleontologists will be bringing in fossil trackways, fossil invertebrates, and fossil plants found in mines and other places from Alabama’s Coal Age for temporary display and photography on tables in the Grand Gallery of Smith Hall.
In addition to seeing the existing exhibits, people can see the hundreds of slabs with tracks, invertebrates, and plants that have been collected over at least the last decade. There will also be a layperson talk by Ron Buta, prominent Alabama Paleontological Society member, at 11:30 am about trackways and other fossils from the famous Union Chapel Mine in Walker County. “The preservation of the Union Chapel Mine, the most prolific Coal Age fossil track site in the world right here in Alabama, by a determined group of fossil enthusiasts is a great example of how amateurs can make significant contributions to science,” said Prescott Atkinson, Alabama Paleontological Society vice-president. Dr. Adiel Klompmaker, University of Alabama Museums’ Curator of Paleontology, added that: “In the last 20 years, Alabama has become one of the best places in the world to find fossil footprints of ancient reptiles and amphibians.”
Visitors will learn what the Coal Age was like in Alabama about 315 million years ago. What animals and plant were alive back then? Where have the fossils been found? What did Alabama look like back then? They also can get to know people from the Alabama Paleontological Society, what they do, how they got interested in fossils, etc. “All fossils are amazing as their mere existence gives us a glimpse of distant times on Earth; the trackways from this site go much deeper offering us a window to view precious moments from a day in each track-makers’ life,” muses Jim Braswell, President of the Alabama Paleontological Society.
“Over the last decade, many new slabs from Alabama’s Coal Age with trackways, some invertebrates, and plant fossils have been found by members and affiliates of the Alabama Paleontological Society,” said Dr. Adiel Klompmaker. “Questions like how many were found, what fossils were found, are there unique specimens among them, etc. are largely unknown. This is a great opportunity for the general public, hobby paleontologists, and professional paleontologists to see those specimens.”
Date and Time
This Track Meet is being held on Saturday, April 8 and will be open from 11:00 am until 3:30 pm.
There is a layperson talk by Ron Buta, prominent Alabama Paleontological Society member, at 11:30 am about trackways and other fossils from the famous Union Chapel Mine in Walker County.
This Track Meet is free!
The Track Meet will be located inside the Alabama Museum of Natural History’s Grand Gallery (Smith Hall on The University of Alabama campus). The street address is 427 Sixth Avenue, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487.
Check out our Directions page for step-by-step directions and parking and public transit info.
From Birmingham: Take Interstate 20/59 S to Tuscaloosa exit 73, McFarland Blvd. Head West on McFarland Blvd toward the University of Alabama. Exit right onto University Blvd. Follow University Blvd to Hackberry Lane. Make a right onto Hackberry Lane and turn into the second parking lot on your left behind Smith Hall (yellow brick building).
From Montgomery: Take Hwy 82 W to Tuscaloosa. Exit right onto University Blvd. Follow University Blvd to Hackberry Lane. Make a right onto Hackberry Lane and turn into the second parking lot on your left behind Smith Hall (yellow brick building).
There are five dedicated visitor parking spaces in the lot behind Smith Hall that can be accessed from Hackberry Drive. Upon arrival, once you pay for admission, you will receive a parking pass receipt that will entitle you to free parking in our museum visitor parking spaces. In addition, there is a parking deck located at Campus Drive and Hackberry Lane. The cost for visitor parking in the deck is $1 for the first hour and $2 for each additional hour. To reach the parking deck, take Hackberry Lane to Campus Drive East, and the parking deck is on the right.
The Tuscaloosa Trolley runs from the city’s downtown parking deck to campus.
Visit the Tuscaloosa Transit Authority website to find the downtown deck and a map of the trolley’s University Shuttle Route.