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Is there a comprehensive database of fossils (with images) online?

Is there a comprehensive database of fossils (with images) online?


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I have not been able to find a decent database of fossils on the web, does one exist?

Here are some of the links I have found through Wikipedia and Google:

What are the best places to get fossil data and images of the fossils? Or are museums and textbooks the only alternative?


No. Museums are the traditional repository for fossils, and the process of "digitizing" their collections is slow and labor intensive. Often, the museums only aim to digitize what me might call the "meta-data" associated with the fossil, as was done here: http://ucmpdb.berkeley.edu/cgi/ucmp_query2?admin=&query_src=ucmp_index&table=ucmp2&spec_id=V8111&one=T

A truly comprehensive database is not feasible in the near future. A single photograph likely would not be sufficient to characterize the fossil -- the interesting components of fossils are often microscopic. For example:

http://www.pnas.org/content/99/14/9117.full.pdf

Even taking a single photograph can be very labor intensive, and fossils can be fragile. Proper photo-documentation would probably require multiple images. More generally, a comprehensive database would probably need to include non-photographic data relating to the fossil -- such as chemical composition of non-visual imaging techniques (X-ray, IR, UV, etc).

For the foreseeable future, "comprehensive" collections will be housed in museums without full digital representation. The only way to know how comprehensive these collections are is to ask the museum curator, who will be aware of the scope and limitations of the collection.


How to hunt fossils responsibly: 5 tips from a professional paleontologist

Credit: Amy Tschirn, Author provided

Many of us, at some point or another, dreamed of hunting for dinosaur fossils when we grew up. Paleontology—the study of natural history through fossils—is the scientific reality of this. It encompasses all ancient lifeforms that left their trace in the earth, from stromatolites (microbial reefs up to 3.5 billion years old) to megafauna.

Australia has great fossil diversity and a lot of ground to cover, so it's no surprise we have numerous active field naturalists, university clubs and Facebook groups out there fossicking for local treasures.

But amateur fossil collectors often aren't provided with basic instructions from museums or government departments, to responsibly collect fossils. This means paleontologists generally don't encourage amateur collecting without supervision because of the environmental, cultural and scientific sensitivity of some sites, and rarity of some fossils.

But if you're that kid, their parent or an amateur enthusiast still keen to get out there, I've put together a few pointers for collecting responsibly.

Why do we need to be responsible?

From the viewpoint of career paleontologists, amateur fossil collecting has its pros and cons.

On the one hand, Australia has a great band of citizen scientists keen to help us cover more ground, particularly as funding and field work resources are becoming more scarce.

One of the most famous amateur collectors is Mary Anning from the UK. She was the first person to bring plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs—marine reptiles from the time of the dinosaurs—to science without formal training or recognition when she was active in the early 19th century.

More recently, Museums Victoria has had successes with help from the public, such as the discovery of Miocene shark teeth (from around 25 million of years ago) in coastal limestone.

On the other hand, there are two possible negative outcomes from amateur fossil hunting.

While some fossil remains like this fragment of rabbit are not important to science, it’s only with years of training or adequate identification aids can a collector know this. Credit: Kailah Thorn, Author provided

The first is misidentification, which can lead to important specimens left collecting dust on bookshelves, placed in garden beds or broken in two during excavation.

But the situation we fear most is the commercialisation of paleontology: putting a dollar value on scientifically irreplaceable specimens, placing them beyond the realm of museum or university acquisition budgets. For example, last year in the US, STAN the T. rex sold for US$31.8 million.

This doesn't just hinder science, but also restricts access of really neat fossils to a handful of wealthy people, rather than a public audience.

Both of these outcomes are entirely avoidable with good science communication, and museum information officers.

So how can you become a responsible citizen paleontologist?

Here are five things to know before you go:

Make sure you have permission to be somewhere (on private or public land), and to collect. This extends to permissions from Traditional Owners on native title, pasturalists and local councils. This, however, rules out any national parks. And depending on your state, you may need a permit to collect from crown land (set aside for government or public purposes) or council land.

It's always a good idea to check with your state museum or interest group which sites are OK for fossicking—some may be culturally, historically or scientifically sensitive.

Never attempt any field work on your own, always bring a friend. Make sure you both know basic first aid and can contact emergency services in a pinch. Anything from a rolled ankle to a snake bite needs to be planned for.

You can avoid or manage risks for most hazards by wearing suitable clothing: long pants, enclosed shoes and sunglasses to shield your eyes from rock chips. Always slip-slop-slap to prevent sunburn.

The equipment you need will depend on the fossils you're looking for and the ground they're in. Beginners should aim for fossils in sand dunes or crumbly rock. You can use paint brushes, dustpans, and kitchen sieves to unearth all kinds of marine fossils from ancient dunes or coral reefs.

Once you get the hang of it, you can try coastal limestones and hard clays with picks and trowels. Most importantly, bring a label kit and a field notebook.

4. Leave some for the rest of us

If you hit the motherlode of Permian brachiopods and feel you don't already have enough on your mantle, stop and think about the next generation of collectors.

Even the biggest museums show restraint in their collecting. Eventually you'll run out of shelf space and the Permian geological record will run out of brachiopods (unlikely, but the point remains).

5. Be a citizen scientist

Identify what you've found, label it and do some research into it's significance.

Keep a detailed notebook containing a record of where you found each specimen, when and who found it, and details about the rock or dirt it came from. Take plenty of photos before and after you pry it out of the earth.

Stromatolites are rock formations created by bacteria. They’re one of the oldest living structures on Earth, and their fossils can be found in Western Australia. Credit: Shutterstock

Identifying your fossil

There are a number of online resources for identifying Australian fossils. A good place to start is Paleobiology Database where you can explore a map of fossil sites across Australia, from Gingin in Western Australia to Bayside, Victoria (and the rest of the world).

Get in touch with your state museum if you think you've found something special, or can't quite figure out what you have once your Google search comes to a dead end. Anything that hasn't been recorded from that location or is remarkably well preserved is worth looking into further.

Plan for demise (of you or your hobby, whichever comes first). The reason we have museums—and why they're entrusted to look after Australia's fossil heritage in perpetuity—is their ability to plan ahead of our lifetime.

What happens to your collection when you can no longer store it? Do you want to pass it on to a friend or family member? Will you donate it to a school, university or museum?

Write down a plan for your collection and make sure it's always stored with adequate labels, somewhere it won't be destroyed by time as it's exposed to temperature, humidity, pests and minimalist family members.

Once you're equipped with the knowledge and resources, get out there and contribute to the field and help conserve Australia's rich palaeontological heritage.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


From skeletons to teeth, early human fossils have been found of more than 6,000 individuals. With the rapid pace of new discoveries every year, this impressive sample means that even though some early human species are only represented by one or a few fossils, others are represented by thousands of fossils. From them, we can understand things like:

  • how well adapted an early human species was for walking upright
  • how well adapted an early human species was for living in hot, tropical habitats or cold, temperate environments
  • the difference between male and female body size, which correlates to aspects of social behavior
  • how quickly or slowly children of early human species grew up.

While people used to think that there was a single line of human species, with one evolving after the other in an inevitable march towards modern humans, we now know this is not the case. Like most other mammals, we are part of a large and diverse family tree. Fossil discoveries show that the human family tree has many more branches and deeper roots than we knew about even a couple of decades ago. In fact, the number of branches our evolutionary tree, and also the length of time, has nearly doubled since the famed ‘Lucy’ fossil skeleton was discovered in 1974!

There were periods in the past when three or four early human species lived at the same time, even in the same place. We – Homo sapiens – are now the sole surviving species in this once diverse family tree.

While the existence of a human evolutionary family tree is not in question, its size and shape - the number of branches representing different genera and species, and the connections among them – are much debated by researchers and further confounded by a fossil record that only offers fragmented look at the ancient past. The debates are sometimes perceived as uncertainty about evolution, but that is far from the case. The debates concern the precise evolutionary relationships - essentially, ‘who is related to whom, and how.’ Click here to explore information about different early human species.


Is there a comprehensive database of fossils (with images) online? - Biology

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Cold Seep

A cold seep is a place on the seafloor where organic-rich fluids leak from the sediments below.

Cold seeps nurture specialized microorganisms that live on sulfides and hydrocarbons in the anaerobic environment, and other species make a living with their help. Cold seeps make up part of a global network of seafloor oases along with black smokers and whale falls.

Cold seeps have only recently been recognized in the fossil record. California's Panoche Hills has the largest set of fossil cold seeps found in the world so far. These lumps of carbonates and sulfides have probably been seen and ignored by geologic mappers in many areas of sedimentary rocks.

This fossil cold seep is of early Paleocene age, about 65 million years old. It has an outer shell of gypsum, visible around the left base. Its core is a jumbled mass of carbonate rock containing fossils of tubeworms, bivalves, and gastropods. Modern cold seeps are very much the same.


Mollusca are the second largest animal phylum on Earth after arthropods. The number of valid Recent species is currently estimated around 50,000 to 55,000 marine, 25,000 to 30,000 terrestrial and 6,000 to 7,000 freshwater. The number of fossil species is not known accurately, but is in the same order of magnitude and may range between 60,000 (a conservative guess, Taylor & Lewis, 2007) and more than 100,000 species.

Subject to availability, the following information is provided for taxa included in MolluscaBase:

  • Accepted (valid) name
  • Classification (presented with a parent/child hierarchy)
  • Synonyms
  • Reference of original description and other relevant literature sources
  • Type locality and distribution
  • Stratigraphic range
  • Traits (environment, feeding type, host/parasite relationship) and notes
  • Images


The recent, marine component coincides with the Mollusca entries in the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), whereas the continental and fossil components are not displayed in the WoRMS interface.

Editorial conventions

Some scientists make an extensive use of subgenera and/or subspecies. Names including subgenera are flagged in MolluscaBase as "alternate representation", i.e. both name strings (with/without subgenus) are taxonomically correct, but only the binomen is flagged as "accepted".

Other status include “taxon inquirendum”, for a name which is listed from a literature source, but has not been recently re-evaluated for taxonomic validity and/or generic or familial placement, and “nomen dubium” for a name which resists revision because the description and other supporting data are deficient.

The limit between fossil and extant is set at 10,000 years. Recently extinct taxa include extinctions sensu IUCN (i.e. since AD 1500) as well as Holocene extinctions both are indexed as extant with a note indicating that they are recently extinct.

The phylum Mollusca

Molluscs have made their way to almost every ecosystem, from the most arid deserts to the deepest ocean trenches. In the sea, they are one of the most important groups of invertebrates, accounting for roughly one-quarter of the species. They are also an important food source for many marine animals, and subject to exploitation and cultivation for human consumption.

They have been around for a long time and were persistently a prominent part of the world fauna since their appearance, about at the same time as most animal phyla, some 550 million years ago. Their fossil record is however far richer than that of other groups because most of them have a calcareous shell which is easily fossilized.

A phylum is defined as a comprehensive group of animals which share a common ancestor and the same basic configuration of their body plan. This applies to molluscs but there is so much disparity among them that it is difficult to present a general scheme that fits them all.

  • A ventral foot, muscular, variously shaped (missing only in the Class Caudofoveata).
  • A dorsal visceral mass containing internal organs.
  • A mantle (with an epidermis secreting a calcium carbonate shell) covering the visceral mass and projecting on each side of the body to cover a mantle cavity containing the gills.
  • A rasping organ in the anterior part of the digestive tract, the radula, exclusive of molluscs (but lacking in the entire Class Bivalvia and in some genera or species of the Class Gastropoda)

From a biological point of view, the unmatched plasticity of the molluscan body shape provides plenty of models for the study of evolution and adaptation. The group ranges from almost microscopic forms less than one millimetre in adult size, to giant squids of the genus Architeuthis, which can reach over 15 m in size and hundreds of kilos in weight. The majority of molluscs, however, are smaller than one centimetre.

It is possible to find examples of virtually every feeding strategy in the phylum Mollusca.

These include active predators such as neogastropods and cephalopods, non-specialist grazers such as chitons and many vetigastropods, filter-feeders such as most bivalves, and many more. Some molluscs have evolved elaborate adaptations.

Tridacna, a large reef-dwelling clam, incorporates photosynthetic zooxanthellae in its mantle and is in large part autotrophic.
Other bivalves associated with hydrothermal vents or seeps are sustained by chemosynthetic bacteria and some of them lack a functional gut. Many small species, including the large and diverse gastropod families Eulimidae and Pyramidellidae, are ectoparasitic on other invertebrates.

Scope

Whereas there is little disagreement regarding the extant classes of Mollusca, there are many contentious questions in the classification of extinct forms, especially from the Paleozoic. There is a major uncertainty regarding the status of some monoplacophoran-like molluscs, which may, or may not, be gastropods, depending on whether their visceral mass has undergone torsion (the hallmark of the class Gastropoda) or not. As this trait cannot always be determined from the shell only, there are many taxa of uncertain position.

The extinct class Rostroconchia is unquestionably recognized as belonging to the Mollusca, but this issue is not straightforward for the enigmatic Hyolitha and Tentaculitida the latter are not in the scope of MolluscaBase.

History of the database

The project for MolluscaBase began in February 2014, with a meeting at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Oostende, bringing together a group of malacologists (Philippe Bouchet, Gary Rosenberg, Serge Gofas, Simon Schneider, André Sartori, Eike Neubert, Ruud Bank) among whom molluscan editors of WoRMS and Fauna Europaea, and members of the data management team at VLIZ.

Considering that WoRMS had achieved being ca. 95% complete after less than a decade of effort, and that there was so far no comparable list available for land and freshwater molluscs nor for the fossil species, the moment was found appropriate to launch the initiative.

The first major input, completed by November 2014, was the import of the FreshGEN database regarding all fossil freshwater gastropod species described from the Miocene and Pliocene of Europe (23.03-2.588 million years), with 4,360 taxa.

The FreshGEN database was compiled within the project "Freshwater systems in the Neogene and Quaternary of Europe: Gastropod biodiversity, provinciality, and faunal gradients" funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF (Project no. P25365-B25) under the leadership of Mathias Harzhauser and Thomas Neubauer (NHM Vienna) – taking the option to join MolluscaBase instead of launching a separate database on the web.

New Zealand Cenozoic Mollusca and New Zealand Recent terrestrial Mollusca (altogether ca. 3400 species) were added by Bruce Marshall.

The next scheduled upload regards the molluscan data of Fauna Europaea, curated by Ruud Bank and resulting from an EU funded project within the Fifth Framework Programme since March 2000.
This covers all land and freshwater species of Europe. MolluscaBase will develop through the inputs of active taxonomic editors, following the successful model of WoRMS, and also seeks the collaboration of external data providers who are willing to provide large, structured datasets to MolluscaBase, nonetheless retaining their own individuality and acknowledged as “basis of records”.

The MolluscaBase initiative is supported by LifeWatch, which is part of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) and can be seen as a virtual laboratory for biodiversity and ecosystem research.

Acknowledgments

Citation

Usage of data from the MolluscaBase in scientific publications should be acknowledged by citing as follows:

  • MolluscaBase eds. (2021). MolluscaBase. Accessed at http://www.molluscabase.org on 2021-06-22. doi:10.14284/448

Individual pages are individually authored and dated. These can be cited separately: the proper citation is provided at the bottom of each page.


We’re Hardly Using Any of Our Fossils

Research Departments, California Academy of Sciences

California

Staffers sift through the California Academy of Science’s fossil collection. Christine Garcia © 2018 California Academy of Sciences

Imagine: The year is 1918, and you’re walking on the beach in California when you stub your toe. You look down to see what you’ve hit, and you notice that it’s not an ordinary rock—it’s a fossil, perhaps some sort of prehistoric snail. You dig it up, clean it off, carefully write down where and when you found it, and donate it to your local museum, as you have been taught. This is to be your contribution to history, to the scientific record. In your most hopeful moments, you picture your fossil providing vital information to a scientist, or on careful display in a glass case, delighting visiting children.

Now fast forward a century. Your specimen is neither changing minds nor on display. Instead, it’s hidden away in a drawer in an offsite storage facility, along with your handwritten index card. No one has looked at it in decades. In a way, it needs to be dug up all over again.

According to a recent study, such is the fate of nearly all the fossils ever found. “There are enormous amounts of data sitting in various museum collections,” says Peter Roopnarine, the curator of geology at the California Academy of Sciences and one of the authors of the paper, which was published last month in Biology Letters. “Our picture of what’s going on is based on whatever small fraction we manage to study, and publish upon.”

A smattering of the California Academy of Science’s fossil collection. Christine Garcia © 2018 California Academy of Sciences

For the study, Roopnarine and his co-authors quantified this fraction across nine different institutions in California, Washington and Oregon. They calculated that of all the specimens housed in these collections, more than 95 percent are from locations that have never been written about. Extrapolating their findings globally, they predict that “perhaps only 3𔃂% of recorded fossil localities are currently accounted for” in published literature.

In the process, they also set out to change that, committing themselves to digitally documenting a particular subset of all of their specimens: Marine invertebrates found in the Eastern Pacific that are 66 million years old or younger. Each crab, clam, cockle and cowrie is getting its age, identity, and location put online, and some are being photographed and scanned as well. The resulting database—called Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoic, or EPICC—is growing every day.

Petrified ocean critters may seem like a strange candidate for digitization, but there are many reasons to put them online. One is that it helps researchers get a more comprehensive idea of whatever it is they’re trying to study. As the new paper details, for past generations, taking any kind of long view required painstakingly compiling information by hand. It’s probably no accident that the geologist John Phillips—who, in 1841, made the first published attempt at a geological time scale—began his career in the discipline by organizing museum fossil collections.

Before photography and 3D scans, illustrations of fossilized marine invertebrates helped scientists draw big-picture conclusions. British Museum/Biodiversity Heritage Library/Public Domain

In the 1980s, Roopnarine says, paleobiologists began undertaking even more in-depth literature reviews. It was at that point, he says, that “we began to discover ways to approach questions we hadn’t before.” In 1982, for example, two geologists trawled through nearly 400 papers and databases of marine fossils, and managed to pinpoint the five mass extinction events Earth has experienced since life first formed. “The advantages of accessing big data became very obvious,” says Roopnarine.

Online databases like EPICC make this kind of thing even easier. The compilers’ goal is to “allow any researcher to be able to reconstruct the history of this region from whatever perspective they’re coming from,” and study anything from food webs to species movements to the effects of climate change, Roopnarine says.

Another reason is to hedge against disasters. The loss of a specimen is tragic no matter what, but if you have information about it—its species and location, or even better, a photograph or scan—“at least we know what existed,” says Roopnarine. After Brazil’s Museu Nacional burned down in early September, several groups put out calls for images, scans, or 3D models that people might have taken of its holdings. A large number of its natural history documents are also available online, previously digitized by the museum.

A dinosaur fossil from the Museu Nacional. While the fossil itself may be lost, even this photograph of it is better than nothing. Baspereira/CC BY-SA 4.0

Institutions in the American West are particularly aware of this danger, says Roopnarine: “We are absolutely paranoid about fire here.” The California Academy of Sciences burned down in 1906, after the San Francisco earthquake. Before the blaze, it had housed the second-largest natural history collection in the country by the time the flames snuffed out, it had lost 25,000 taxidermied birds, most of its entomology and herpetology holdings, and its entire library. (Alice Eastwood, the curator of botany, saved over a thousand plant specimens by bundling them together and lowering them from the sixth floor to the ground with ropes.)

“If the tragedy in Rio tells us anything, it’s that you never have a good forecast of how much time you have to do this. And we need to do it sooner rather than later,” says Roopnarine. “Unless you make these efforts to distribute [data], to back it up… this story’s going to be told over and over.”

Last but not least, you simply find neat things. “Every now and then we come across a gem of a specimen,” says Roopnarine of getting his own department’s fossils in order. The other day, they found the shell of a predatory snail that had been eaten by one of its peers. Inside was a fossilized hermit crab, who had taken up residence there. “I don’t know what the deep scientific value of that is going to be,” he says, “except it’s awfully cool.” Somewhere, maybe, its discoverer is smiling.


Selected Literature

Review Articles

Hedges SB. 2002. The origin and evolution of model organisms. Nature Reviews Genetics 3:838-849.

Hedges SB & Kumar S. 2003. Genomic clocks and evolutionary timescales. Trends In Genetics 19:200-206.

Hedges SB & Kumar S. 2009. Discovering the timetree of life. Oxford University Press, New York Pp. 3-18 in The Timetree of Life.

Kumar S. 2005. Molecular clocks: four decades of evolution. Nature Reviews Genetics 6:654-662.

Rutschmann F. 2006. Molecular dating of phylogenetic trees: a brief review of current methods that estimate divergence times. Diversity and Distributions 12:35-48.

Wray GA. 2001. Dating branches on the tree of life using DNA. Genome Biology 3:1.1-1.7.

Technical Articles on Methodology

Drummond AJ, Rambaut A. 2007. BEAST: Bayesian evolutionary analysis by sampling trees. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7:21.

Drummond AJ, Ho SYW, Phillips MJ & Rambaut A. 2006. Relaxed phylogenetics and dating with confidence. PLoS Biology 4:699-710.

Hedges SB & Kumar S. 2004. Precision of molecular time estimates. Trends in Genetics 20:242-247.

Hedges SB, Dudley J, & Kumar S. 2006. TimeTree: a public knowledge-base of divergence times among organisms. Bioinformatics 22:2971-2972.

Kumar S, Filipski A, Swarna V, Walker A, & Hedges SB. 2005. Placing confidence limits on the molecular age of the human-chimpanzee divergence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102:18842-18847.

Near TJ & Sanderson MJ. 2004. Assessing the quality of molecular divergence time estimates by fossil calibrations and fossil-based model selection. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 359:1477-1483.

Sanderson MJ. 1997. A nonparameteric approach to estimating divergence times in the absence of rate constancy. Molecular Biology and Evolution 14:1218-1231.

Sanderson MJ. 2003. r8s: inferring absolute rates of molecular evolution and divergence times in the absence of a molecular clock. Bioinformatics 19:301-302.

Takezaki N, Rzhetsky A, & Nei M. 1995. Phylogenetic test of the molecular clock and linearized trees. Molecular Biology and Evolution 12:823-833.

Thorne JL, Kishino H, & Painter IS. 1998. Estimating the rate of evolution of the rate of molecular evolution. Molecular Biology and Evolution 15:1647-1657.

Thorne JL, & Kishino H. 2002. Divergence time and evolutionary rate estimation with multilocus data. Systematic Biology 51:689-702.

Yang Z, & Yoder AD. 2003. Comparison of likelihood and Bayesian methods for estimating divergence times using multiple loci and calibration points, with application to a radiation of cute-looking mouse lemur species. Systematic Biology 52:705-716.


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        • Full text for over 700 journals from 1992-.

        U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection

        The U.S. Serial Set is a collection of U.S. Government publications compiled under directive of the Congress. It contains comprehensive and often detailed information on an extremely wide range of subjects. The LexisNexis® U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection contains hundreds of thousands of documents and over 52,000 maps, ranging from 1789 to the present.

        • You may want to search here to see if your ancestors had any interactions with Congress, such as letters for assistance, petitions on behalf of neighbors, and regarding pension or land mattters.

        This page was last reviewed on January 6, 2021.
        Contact us with questions or comments.


        Fossil Mammals

        An estimated 400,000 specimens, representing 46 extinct and extant orders, 2,808 extinct genera, and 7,599 species are housed on seven floors of the Museum's Childs Frick Building. More than half of all the genera of mammals known to science are present in the collection. The cataloged collection contains approximately 2,000 type specimens.

        Collecting began with the 1877 expedition to the Bridger Basin, Wyoming, led by H.F. Osborn. In 1897, E. D. Cope's vast collection of fossils, which contained many important type specimens, was purchased this became the core of the paleontological collection. During the AMNH Presidency of H. F. Osborn, and for many decades thereafter, the collection grew through global collecting expeditions led by AMNH vertebrate paleontologists, including W. D. Matthew, Walter Granger, Jacob Wortman, Barnum Brown, Edwin H. Colbert, and George Gaylord Simpson. In 1968, the fossil collection of Childs Frick, consisting mostly of fossil mammals, was donated to the AMNH. More recently, the collections have been further augmented by the active North American and international field programs of Malcolm McKenna, Richard Tedford, Michael Novacek, Jin Meng, John Flynn and their students and collaborators, as well as numerous Divisional Field and Research Associates.

        Today, the AMNH collection of fossil mammals is recognized as a national and international resource for research and teaching in paleomammalogy, systematics, and evolutionary biology. Extensive use of the collection is made onsite by staff researchers, visiting scientists, and graduate and postdoctoral students, and additionally through loans of specimens to researchers at other domestic and international institutions. The collection currently receives around 50 professional visitors a year, who average approximately 5 days per visit, and makes about 30 specimen loans to other institutions, averaging 10 specimens per loan.

        In recent years, curatorial efforts have focused on upgrades to specimen housing, including the replacement of substandard cabinetry and shelving making specimen data and digital images available to the wider public via the worldwide web and improving the standard of environmental monitoring and pest control throughout the collections. The Division has collaborated successfully with the AMNH's Natural Sciences Conservation Lab on a number of projects aimed at improving the standard of preventive conservation in the collection, and has received grant funding for collection improvements from NASA and the National Science Foundation.


        Watch the video: Exploring Fossil Records, How Fossils Are Formed (September 2022).


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