Club Corner: Mid-America Paleontology Society

by John A. Catalani

MAPS-logoThe Mid-America Paleontology Society (MAPS) is one of the few strictly fossil clubs in the country. MAPS was founded in 1978 by a group of amateur paleontologists interested in starting a club that would be exclusively fossil-oriented. MAPS is designed for all levels of interest and expertise in paleontology: It is for the novice/beginner who wants to know more about these treasures from the past; it is for the old-timers who have so much expertise and knowledge to share with the rest of us; and it is for all those who fall in-between who share our love of fossils. Anyone, anywhere in the world who is interested in fossils is eligible for membership in MAPS.

We have more than 400 families or individuals on our membership list from 40 states 7 countries on 4 continents. The most noteworthy thing about the members is their intense love for the hobby. There are those who have become members after seeing a fossil display in a museum; there are those who are caught up in the charisma of other fossil lovers only to become addicted themselves; there are those who have been in this hobby for forty years; there are those who are professional Paleontologists; and there are those who just quietly go about collecting and sharing. Ages of our members span eight decades.

Recent MAPS trip to a Coralville (Iowa A) quarry
Recent MAPS trip to a Coralville (Iowa A) quarry

Our desire and aim is that MAPS develop into a semiprofessional society that will make a real contribution to the collecting, study, preparation, identification, and display of fossils. A current project involves a unique deposit of Devonian cephalopods, many of which have never been described.

A major benefit of joining MAPS is the vigorous trading of fossils that occurs between members from different parts of the world. Many members also send give-away fossils to school teachers for use in their classrooms.

MAPS joins with other clubs to sponsor several field trips per year to various local quarries. There we collect wonderful Devonian trilobites, huge nautiloids, the occasional perfect crinoid and many species of brachiopods and other interesting fossils.

Photo of Crinoid donated by an amateur to the University of Iowa Paleontology Repository

MAPS has sponsored the National Fossil Exposition (EXPO) since 1979. EXPO is held in early spring with fossil enthusiasts converging from all across the nation as well as from Canada and a few overseas countries. Each EXPO is centered on a theme reflecting a type or group of fossils, a specific Geologic Period, or other aspects of collecting. In conjunction with the theme, a keynote speaker, most often a professional that specializes on the EXPO theme, and a special EXPO Edition of the Digest is printed containing contributed articles from both professionals and amateurs. It is the place for fossil lovers to be. Information on the next MAPS EXPO can be found on the club’s website.

Activity at the 2014 MAPS EXPO held at Iowa City, Iowa
Activity at the 2014 MAPS EXPO held at Iowa City, Iowa

For those who can attend, monthly meetings are held on the second Saturday of October, November, January, and February at 2 P.M. in Trowbridge Hall at the University of Iowa, 123 N. Capital St., Iowa City, Iowa. Occasionally, meetings are held at other sites, so it is wise to check the Calendar section in the Digest or the website before attending the meeting if you are not a regular attendee. If you can attend only an occasional meeting of the society, your major contact will be through the MAPS Digest. It is published about 4 times per year. We hope to make this a worthwhile bulletin, with good articles on all aspects of fossil collecting.