Historical society places prehistoric artifacts on display

CHASE — The Chase Township Public Library prides itself as treasury of historical items, but never has anything as old as dinosaur footprints and other fossils been displayed until recently. 

Diane Johnson, head of the Chase Historical Society, which meets at the library, changes the display case periodically, and the most recent display is her own diverse collection of fossils. 

“You can’t get much more historic than dinosaurs,” Johnson said. 

The display not only showcases a dinosaur footprint fossil, but also a cave bear tooth. Cave bears were 20 feet long and 2,000 pounds, a prehistoric version of grizzly bears. Cave bears became extinct when they were conquered by human hunters. 

A fern fossil from the Pennsylvanian Period, 280 to 360 million years ago, tells of a time when dense forests of ferns covered the earth, some reaching the height of trees. 

Other items in the display case include sand dollars, prehistoric tortoise shells, petrified wood and prehistoric fish fossils. 

Johnson acquired her fossil collection through her friendship of more than 30 years with Gerald Cooper, a lifelong Holland resident, businessman and author. 

“We found a mutual interest in fossils and their stories,” Johnson said. “Some 20 years ago, Mr. Cooper kindly offered his collection of a lifetime to me, and I gratefully accepted. I have found these fossils to be a joy and a responsibility. I happily share them whenever the opportunity arises, for libraries, schools, or other interested groups and will continue to do so.”

The fossils will be displayed at the Chase Township Public Library until after Christmas.