SOUTH PORTLAND – Park Ranger Sydney Raftery is hosting a fossil-themed event at South Portland Public Library on Feb. 8, at 6:30 p.m. The event is described as a captivating journey back in time, over 450 million years ago. The event, part of the Wildlife & Ecology Lecture Series, aims to shed light on the fossils found in the state of Maine and unravel the mysteries of its ancient history.

“We will be looking at fossils (mostly) from the Paleozoic time period,” Raftery said. “These include things like corals, crinoids, trilobites, and brachiopods. Most of these fossils are from before terrestrial plants and animals even existed.”

The discussion will delve into the fossil record, or the lack thereof, in Maine from 360 million years ago until 1 million years ago, referred to as the “fossil gap.”

The Wildlife & Ecology Lecture Series, tailored for adults but welcoming older children, aims to engage participants in various aspects of nature found in the community.

“The goal is to instill in participants an appreciation of nature, even the ‘unlovable’ things like bats, spiders, etc., in the hopes that it will inspire people to help conserve the beautiful green spaces in our community,” Raftery said. “Understanding our past is crucial in understanding the future of the nature around us.”

For younger nature enthusiasts, Raftery also hosts Nature Story Time events. Scheduled one Friday per month, the sessions cater to different age groups. “These activities can be anything from tag games, to “tracking” the animal, to creating a pizza with toppings that that animal might eat,” Raftery said. “For the dragonfly program, I will bring in science materials so we can look at macroinvertebrates from Mill Creek in hopes of seeing dragonfly or mayfly nymphs (for the older kids). The story times end with crafts that the kids can do to take home to help them remember what they’ve learned.”


Activities for the older kids are much more in depth. So while both groups might learn that owls eat small rodents, the toddlers will play a game where they pick up cut-out mice and place them in an owl’s nest, while the older kids will actually dissect an owl pellet and try to figure out which bones they are seeing. Toddlers might learn that bunnies are fast, but the older kids will discuss adaptations that rabbits have that make them so fast and what they might need to run from.

The Nature Story Time format involves reading books related to the animal of the day, learning facts, and engaging in activities that enhance understanding of animal adaptations, habitats, and more.

Upcoming programs:

Fossils on Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Nature Story Time: One Friday per month, 10:30 a.m., ages 2-5; Age 5 and older, 3:30 p.m.

Feb 23: Frogs.
March 22: Squirrels.
April 19: Songbirds.
May 24: Dragonflies and friends.

Also coming up in February, is a special guest from the Osher Map Library will be at the library on Feb. 17 at 10:30 a.m. for a session titled, All About Maps. All About Maps is an interactive presentation focusing on important map features. All About Maps is best for children ages 5-8. Space is limited and preregistration is required.

For more information, contact Raftery at For more information about the library, visit

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