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CORVALLIS, Ore. – As a child, Guy DiTorrice said his parents didn’t have a lot of money for him to buy toys and games. Instead, they encouraged DiTorrice to use the outdoors as his playground. He followed suit collecting seeds, rocks and anything else he could find. DiTorrice, who now works as a branch manager at $417 million OSU Federal Credit Union, grew up in an area in “corn country” Illinois where a lot of home construction was taking place. Limestone became visible during the unearthing and that’s probably when his love for fossil digs at the age 11 began, he recalled. Even after the family moved to Colorado, DiTorrice continued to add to his fossil collection, which now included dinosaur bones, he said. “What’s fascinating about fossils is they tell stories,” DiTorrice said. “With all the earthquakes and the tsunami, the movement of the rocks tells us stories about what happened millions of years ago.” To date, he has 6,000 pieces cataloged and housed in the 800 square-foot basement of his home. Most of his collection is indigenous to the Oregon coast. His work has been on display in two dozen museums and last year he gave presentations at more than 40 schools and service clubs and is on par to do the same this year. On Saturdays, he conducts fossil presentations at the state park campgrounds. His fossil “tours” are so popular that for every two he books, he has to turn down two. Known as the “Fossil Guy,” he even has a Web site, www.oregonfossilguy.com. “The kids are great. They’re so inquisitive. The part about digs that I like the most is sharing with people.” One of his most prized and rarest finds is a nautilus, a mollusk with a chambered shell. He also has a well-preserved dolphin skull and 20 million year-old grape leaves. DiTorrice’s passion for fossil discovery is so strong that he, along with his then 11 year-old “prodigy” and residents from, aptly-named Fossil, Ore., lobbied the state’s legislature to name the Metasequoia as Oregon’s official state fossil. The Metasequoia is a cedar-like tree that dominated the flora of much of what is now Oregon for 20 million years. It became extinct here about five million years ago, but was brought back to North America following World War II after it was discovered in China. His “dream” fossil digs include sites in Central Texas, where the ammonite-the great, great cousin to the nautilus-once roamed. Because there’s a lot of private land in Texas, DiTorrice said he is working with one of his Internet traders to see how he might gain access. One day, he also wants to travel to two beaches in Scotland where even more ammonites have been found. DiTorrice said the credit union has been very supportive of his hobby and he assures that’s all it is-a hobby. He has no plans to become a paleontologist. The son of the CEO of OSU Federal sought out DiTorrice after learning about thunder eggs, Oregon’s official rock. They both went on a search to find them, DiTorrice said. Members even come with their own finds to get DiTorrice’s assessment. [email protected]

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