Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hold a 100,000+-year-old fossil? TEDxMileHigh Adventurers got to feel just what this was like at last week’s behind-the-scenes tour of the Denver Nature & Science Museum.

Dr. Steve Nash, Curator of Archaeology at DMNS, led the group after-hours through parts of the museum the public doesn’t typically get to see. The Adventure was based around the idea “The Past is the Present”, calling participants to explore artifacts of the past and consider how they impact the present day. By examining remnants of the past, our ancestors remind us of the rewards of exploration and the promise of adventure.

“The More You Know About the Past, the Better Prepared You are for the Future.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

Photo: Ali Scalone, Alexandria Studio

The tour began with an elevator ride to the top floor for a peek into the building’s infrastructure, above The Phipps Auditorium,  and IMAX Theater. Adventurers moved through the museum’s tunnels up to Dr. Nash’s office for a brief history of the museum and collections. His office was filled with what one might expect from a Curator of Archaeology — amongst the stacks of books and research materials, there were tree-ring dates from archaeological sites at Mesa Verde National Park and pieces of petrified wood. The group passed around trail markers, or pottery sherds used to mark the Zuni-Acoma Trail, which, unfortunately, these ancient treasures are disappearing and taking clues from our past with them.

Photo: Ali Scalone, Alexandria Studio
Continuing to the Department of Earth Sciences, Dr. Nash escorted the group into an area housing a portion of the vertebrate paleontology collection that is not publicly on display. Adventurers marveled at ancient fossils and clues into prehistoric times in the Rocky Mountain region.
Photo: Ali Scalone, Alexandria Studio

A collective highlight of the tour was learning about the museum’s Snowmastodon Project and discovery process of the local prehistoric site found in 2010 during an excavation of the Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village. Adventurers had the privilege of holding a Mastodon bone, dating back around 100,000 years — what a treat!

Photo: Ali Scalone, Alexandria Studio

The tour concluded in the new Avenir Collections Center, a state-of-the-art research facility housing nearly 1.5 million artifacts — a safe-haven for our collective history, preserving these ancient remnants to ensure the “stories, science, and wonder inherent in these treasures will endure for generations”. The take home message from the Adventure? We are all guardians of our past and by sharing these stories with one another in present times, our active participation helps shape a future rich with history.

Photo: Ali Scalone, Alexandria Studio

Adventures typically take place once or twice a month and are ways to deepen connections in the local TEDxMileHigh community and put ideas into action. Grab a friend and join us for an upcoming Adventure!