Folks that want to take a peek at the University of Montana’s expansive fossil collection will have one chance this year to do so. Next week on October 12th the UM Paleontology department will celebrate National Fossil Day by opening its doors to the public, UM Paleontology Center Collections manager Kallie Moore Explains.

"The open house will run from 5-8 p.m. and it is free," said Moore. " We will have tours around the collections and displays. We will also have rock and fossil identification so if anybody has any treasures that they have been wondering what it is, they can bring it in and we can identify it for them. There will be a sort film and a junior paleontologist room for kids about 5 to 12 years old."

Moore says the collection includes somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 specimens. While Montana State University focuses on Cretaceous period Fossils, the University of Montana has a much broader focus.

"We look at all the other time frames," Moore said. "We have specimens in our collection that are in the billions of years old, 1.5 billion to 2.5 billion years old. Then it spans all the way into the pleistocene so some of our youngest fossils are only about 9,000 years old which is kind of right under the cut off to technically being called a fossil."

Montana State Paleontologist Greg Liggett will make a special appearance during the event and will be offering micro-lectures on paleontology at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. during the open house.