If Charles Darwin were alive he would have plenty to celebrate at the Gray Fossil Site on Feb. 17.

Charles Darwin

The Gray Fossil Site will be hosting a celebration of both Charles Darwin’s 209th birthday, as well as international Darwin Day.

International Darwin Day has been celebrated since the late 1990s, and now has its own website.

“International Darwin Day will inspire people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin,” the website states. “It will be a day of celebration, activism, and international cooperation for the advancement of science, education, and human well-being.”

The event focuses on the research of the late famous scientist, such as natural selection.

“His discovery of natural selection as the mechanism for evolution unclasped scientific progress from theological limitations and paved the way for a fuller understanding of our place in the universe,” the website states. “Without the discovery of natural selection, the greatest achievements in health, philosophy, and human well-being over the past two hundred years would have been impossible.”

Darwin Day has been celebrated by the Gray Fossil Site since 2007.

“We celebrate Darwin Day every year; it is one of our biggest events,” said Gray Fossil Site paleontologist Dr. Chris Widga.

The day will highlight Darwin’s unique contributions to science through fun activities, demonstrations and a talk.

“This year we are pulling out all the stops,” Widga said. “In addition to Blaine Schubert’s talk about fieldwork in underwater caves of the Yucatan, we have invited others to participate too.”

Blaine Schubert will be this years keynote speaker.
(Photograph contributed / ETSU)

According to Widga other participants include the Steele Creek Nature Preserve the ETSU GeoClub and Anthropos, the Anthropology club.

“We will even be opening some of our exhibit cases to 3D scan bones that are normally on display,” he said. “Charles Darwin himself will make an appearance!”

The Gray Fossil Site is a 5-million-year-old paleontological site containing the fossil remains of thousands of plants and animals. The site was originally discovered in 2000 during highway construction. Since then, it has been managed by East Tennessee State University and staffed by its employees.

The event will be taking place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission will be $3 for adults and children ages 3 and up. ETSU students will be able to get in for free.

For more information about the event you can go to http://gfsm.handsonmuseum.org/ or call 423-439-3662.

More information about Darwin Day can be found on its website at http://darwinday.org/about/.