Gretchen Hurley had to learn to rappel to access Natural Trap Cave near Lovell, Wyoming. A geologist with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), she is now the BLM Lead with an international team of paleontologists, paleobotanists, and scientists studying ancient climates and DNA at the site.
At the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition, Hurley shares stories of working in the cave as well as results from the ongoing research project there. The free lecture takes place Thursday, December 3 at 12:15 p.m. in the Coe Auditorium at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.
The internationally-known cave contains the largest collection of cave fossils in the United States. With a small opening and an 85-foot vertical drop to the cave floor, unsuspecting animals passing through the area have fallen in over the past 100,000 years, giving the cave its formal name and building up layers of well-preserved remains and sediment.
Hurley’s presentation, complete with life-size replicas of the skull of an Ice Age short-faced bear and a dire wolf, discusses the geological setting of Natural Trap Cave, carbonate and cave formation, the cave’s significance in a global setting, and the diverse array of extinct mammal species trapped in the cave during the Pleistocene Epoch.
A geologist in the Cody Field Office of the BLM since 2006, Hurley also owns independent consulting firm Hurley Geological Consulting. In 2012, she won the BLM Director’s Spirit of Service award.
To find out more natural science programming at the Center of the West, visit centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history, or contact Draper Museum Curatorial Assistant Bonnie Smith at [email protected] or 307-578-4020. After the December lecture, the Lunchtime Expedition series, supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch, resumes in February 2016.
For the Center’s full calendar of events, visit centerofthewest.org/calendar.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.