Object Lesson

antlerIn November 2012, Air Force Brig. Gen. William Shawver, Jr. gave to the college a box of more than 400 of his father’s fossils. Shawver’s father, Bill H. Shawver, Sr., who died earlier that year, had been a lifelong educator, fossil-hound and meteor collector who lived in Finley, Wash. Professor of Geology Pat Spencer said Shawver found most of the fossils along the Columbia River Valley in the 1950s-1970s. These areas are now national monument sites, which makes the collection unique. The fossils date back 4.5 million years ago and include bones from a kind of camel that had been as big as an elephant and moose-like antlers from an extinct species of deer.

Above, a fossilized antler from Bretzia pseudalces. Antler fossils are very uncommon, because the porous material usually degrades rapidly. Left, a collection of fossilized camel bones. Who knew camels once roamed what would become Walla Walla?