FossilEra owner Matt Heaton displays a 380 million-year-old trilobite fossil that took more that 60 hours of work to carve out. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

FossilEra owner Matt Heaton displays a 380 million-year-old trilobite fossil that took more that 60 hours of work to carve out. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Dig it! Old bones, new brews pair for fossil fun in Monroe

FossilEra, an online dinosaur bone retailer, will have a public showing with Dreadnought Brewery.

MONROE — Knock back a local craft brew and crack open a geode from millions of years ago.

FossilEra is partnering with Dreadnought Brewery for Bones & Brews on July 19, 20 and 21 — three days of ammonites, gastropods and echinoderms.

Try saying that after a few of the brewery’s Twang Banger IPAs.

“We’ll have things from a dollar up to tens of thousands of dollars,” said Matt Heaton, owner of FossilEra. “We’ll have lots of under-$10 things.”

FossilEra, which normally is closed to the public, is 10,000 square feet of prehistoric panoply — megalodon teeth, dinosaur bones, spiny trilobites and stromatolites, a fancy name for single-celled, photosynthesizing microbes that are 2.7 billion years old.

You know, things that pair with beer in modern times.

Matt Heaton talks about a fish fossil found in Wyoming that has been moved into the new FossilEra warehouse in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Matt Heaton talks about a fish fossil found in Wyoming that has been moved into the new FossilEra warehouse in Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Ten bucks buys a trilobite, marine animals that lived at the bottom of the ocean eons ago, to go with your Old Man Pre-Prohibition Pilsner.

Sip a Low-Cut Blonde Ale and see what sparks joy, $2 shark tooth or a big amethyst geode for $2,000.

“I’m not a rockhound, but it’s just cool stuff,” said Delaney Wardell, Dreadnought co-owner.

The brewery is across the parking lot from the main fossil warehouse at the nondescript business park west of U.S. 2. near Lake Tye at 146th St. SE.

Bones & Brews is their first joint event. The taproom will offer a special small-batch kolsch brew that FossilEra workers had a hand in making. For youngsters, there will be a fossil pit to dig in and geodes to crack open, maybe like kids did for fun back in the Flintstones age.

FossilEra is like the Amazon of bones and stones. It’s online retail sales only.

The beige exterior belies what’s inside.

It pales compared to neighboring Bow Wow Dog Camp’s barking hounds that can be heard from the street.

If those dogs knew about all the dinosaur bones to gnaw on, they’d be really excited.

Heaton, 41, of Snohomish, began collecting fossils as a kid. He made a good living in high tech, but was drawn to the past.

“I worked as a software developer for 15 years and I wanted to go back to what I loved to do,” he said. He started small six years ago, selling out of his basement with the help of his wife, Kim.

FossilEra has 13 employees and keeps expanding. The move-in-progress to the nearby larger space is its third commercial warehouse and is already filling up.

“Last year I brought in about 40 tons of polished material from Madagascar. I bought out an importer that needed to liquidate,” he said.

Many buyers want inexpensive gifts that are off the beaten path.

“It’s someone who wants to get their kid a shark tooth for their birthday,” he said. “We’re doing a lot more minerals and crystals. People like the sparkly stuff.”

Collectors want specialty and one-of-a-kind items. No two fish that have been dead for 50 million years are alike. It makes for stunning natural artwork.

Light shines in through a window in FossilEra’s new warehousein Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Light shines in through a window in FossilEra’s new warehousein Monroe. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Heaton said Chris Pratt’s assistant called him during the filming of “Jurassic World” and ordered dinosaur teeth.

He offers deals for teachers on National Fossil Day, which highlights the scientific and educational value of paleontology and fossil preservation. This year it’s Oct. 16.

Heaton gets some backlash on social media that the items he sells commercially should be in museums, not knickknacks on bookshelves.

“When I’ve run into things that I believe is a new species I will put it aside and contact researchers,” Heaton said.

“The stuff we deal in is not what they consider scientifically important. Much of the stuff is relatively common.”

That is, if you consider stromatolites common.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

Beer and fossils

Bones & Brews is noon to 6 p.m. July 19, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 20 and 21 at 16722 146th St. SE, Monroe.

The event is family-friendly. Admission is free.

More info: www.fossilera.com

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