ABC7 in Your Neighborhood: Local rock shop, museum

November 13, 2011 (EVANSTON, Ill.)

Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop houses too many types of rare stones to name. Much of it is sculpted into artwork and jewelry. If you're in the market for fossils, you can find all kinds here, too. You could even own a real raptor egg or perhaps a remnant from another extinct beast.

"This is a walrus skull from St. Lawrence Island off Alaska. It's probably roughly 3,000 years old," said Zach White, Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop. "This megladon tooth here is from South Carolina. It's a cool piece, like 20 million years old. Megladon were the largest shark to ever live on the planet."

But the rock shop is only the beginning. Tucked away in the store's dark basement is the Prehistoric Life Museum. While you're there, you can touch the large leg bone of a dinosaur. Also on display is a nest of dinosaur babies excavated in north China, the tooth of a wooly mammoth and the full skeleton of a cave bear.

"Cave bears were actually a really unique species of bear. They were the only species of bear to ever dwell in caves year-round," White said.

The museum is the personal collection of Dave Douglass. He collected fossils as a kid growing up near Joliet. As he got older, his digs grew more extensive and so did his collection. He put it on display so that anyone interested could share his thrills.

"I was completely overwhelmed to walk down the small stairway and see what you'd expect to see at a Museum of Science & Industry or Natural History Museum," said first-time visitor Steve Shakman.

The artifacts come from all over the world and some date back as far as 3 billion years. For example, sea animals called "crinoids" lived at the bottom of the Mississippi River millions of years ago. To her surprise, a young girl named Sophie Hurd recently found one in her own backyard in Evanston. Her grandparents brought it in for confirmation.

"We were suspicious it was just a piece of concrete rubble. We brought it in and Zach was very helpful to us. He quickly pointed out a tiny crinoid fossil that was contained in that and suggested if we split the rock, we might find a few more fossils," Shakman said.

"I already have a rock collection in my garden, so I'm going to put it there. Put it in a special category," Hurd said.

Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop and Prehistoric Life Museum is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday through Saturday. Admission to the museum is always free.

For the store's hours and more information, visit

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