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Exploring Prehistoric Orange County

Cooper Center Hosts Events at Caspers Wilderness Park Sept. 29

Sept. 27, 2012

The Dr. John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center, a partnership between Cal State Fullerton and Orange County-OC Parks, is hosting "Prehistoric OC" from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at Caspers Wilderness Park, featuring children's activities, fossils and artifacts and speakers.

Exhibits and activities will focus on the fossil record and American Indians of Orange County, especially from south Orange County and coastal regions, said Jere H. Lipps, director of the Cooper Center.

"There will be fun family activities arranged to excite kids and their parents about paleontology and archeology by utilizing the Cooper Center and OC Parks' natural and cultural resources," said Lipps. "These and other events and exhibits are part of our community outreach efforts."

Cooper Center activities are free with entrance fee to the county park in San Juan Capistrano. Day parking is $5 per vehicle entry.

Caspers Wilderness Park is one of the many Orange County archaeological sites and includes an exhibit about the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, said Gabriel Santos, Cooper Center curatorial assistant and co-coordinator of the community events.

Presentation topics include information about the Cooper Center and its archeo-paleo work, as well as important archaeological finds at Caspers, including the mysterious cogged stones that were found in the park. A "Junior Scientist Lab" will be available for children to learn about paleontology and archeology. The park's rangers also will lead guided nature walks throughout park trails and will discuss the local flora and fauna and how they relate to paleontology and archaeology, Santos said.

Event schedule:

  • 11 a.m. - Welcome with Caspers Supervising Park Ranger Jacky Velasquez, a CSUF graduate with bachelor's and master's degrees in anthropology
  • 11:15 am – "Introducing the Cooper Center" with Megan Wilson, CSUF anthropology graduate student/Cooper Center volunteer and Gabriel Santos, Cooper Center curatorial assistant
  • 11:45 a.m. – "A Guide to Caspers" with park rangers
  • 12:15 and 2 p.m. – "The Cooper Channel Live!" with show hosts giving talks about archaeology and paleontology
  • 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Guided nature walk (short trail)
  • 1 p.m. – "The Mystery of the Cogged Stones" with Conrad Spargur, a CSUF summer intern at the Cooper Center as part of the Strengthening Transfer Education and Matriculation in STEM program
  • 3 p.m. – Guided nature walk (one-mile trail) Caspers Wilderness Park is located at 33401 Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano. For park directions and information, visit the Casper Park website.

In celebration of October's National Fossil Day and National Archaeology Day, the Cooper Center and OC Parks will be hosting the following community events:

  • 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, "Prehistoric Day at the Santa Ana Zoo," 801 E. Chestnut Ave., Santa Ana, featuring informative stations, scavenger hunt and more. Free with zoo admission. For more information, go to the zoo website.
  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, "The Cooper Center Presents: Prehistoric OC, an Adventure Through Time" at Ralph B. Clark Regional Park, 8800 Rosecrans Ave., Buena Park 90621. Parking is $5 per vehicle entry. Activities are free and include guided walks through the park's Interpretative Center, which has an extensive fossil collection. Park directions are available online.

Cal State Fullerton and the Orange County have partnered to manage, curate and display archaeological artifacts and fossils found during the development of Orange County. This vast collection includes evidence of human activity dating back more than 10,000 years, along with specimens of rare animals that occupied the region beginning 180 million years ago. The center is named in honor of the late John D. Cooper, CSUF emeritus professor of geological sciences, who was dedicated to preserving the collection.

Media Contacts:

Jere H. Lipps, Cooper Center, 714-647-2108, 

Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  CommunityEvents