Connecting with Others




What is myFOSSIL?

myFOSSIL is a social learning site which brings together fossil lovers, amateur paleontologists, and professional paleontologists. On the site, you will find other members who share your same interests, post photos of fossils you’ve collected, have conversations with other members about general paleontology, best practices, preparation methods, and more!

Who is behind myFOSSIL?

The funding for myFOSSIL was provided by The National Science Foundation to the FOSSIL Project (DRL-1322725) from 2015 – 2019. The FOSSIL Project was coordinated from the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) and involved faculty, staff and graduate students from FLMNH as well as the College of Education. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Though myFOSSIL was founded and initially curated by the FOSSIL Project, its content and future belong to the community of practice—the FOSSIL CoP—that includes all amateur and professional paleontologists, as well as enthusiasts for understanding the natural world through the collection, preparation, curation and study of fossils and the science of paleontology.

What do you mean by “myFOSSIL is a social learning site”?

Social learning entails learning collaboratively from other users. Sites like this encourage communities to form among common interests, such as paleontology. Learning from other members of the community can create stronger learning and important ties within the community. We call this social paleontology—an open and inclusive form of computer-supported collaborative scientific inquiry.

How do I update my status?

Once you’ve signed in, you will see your homepage. Underneath the “Latest Forum Posts”, “FOSSIL Twitter Feed”, and “Newest Members” sections, there is a blank box that says, “What’s new, [your name]?”. That is where you can update your status and choose what group it will appear in. You can write anything you want in your status update, including information about a past trip, a link to one of your favorite paleontological blogs, or just some information about what you’re doing on the site (e.g. “I’m excited to upload photos of specimens I collected in the Nebraska Badlands! Who wants to check out the photos and help me with some mammal teeth identification?”)

How do I add a friend?

Across the top of the site, there are three words which take you to different parts of the site (e.g., eMuseum, Community, and Resources). Clicking on “Community” will prompt a drop down menu, including the options “Members”, “Groups”, and “Forums”. Clicking on “Members” will take you to a list of the members on the site. On this page, you can search for other members you wish to befriend. To befriend them, click on their name. This will take you to their page on the site. On the right hand side of the page, you’ll see a button that says Request Friend. Click this button–you’ve now requested that person to be your friend on myFOSSIL.

What’s a comment?

A comment can refer to additional information that another user adds to a wall post. For instance if I (Lisa) write on Eleanor’s wall, Kent (who is also friends with Eleanor and I) can see that wall post and comment on the wall post, providing additional information to the conversation.

How do I send a message to someone?

myFOSSIL has an internal messaging system that allows users to communicate privately, like with email. Messages sent within myFOSSIL stay within the site and are only viewable between the sender and receiver of the message.
To begin sending a message, first click on your profile picture in the upper right hand corner. A drop down menu will appear. Click on the option that says “Message”. A new page will open up. On this page, there will be a menu that says, “Inbox”, “Starred”, “Sent”, “Compose”, “Notices”.

Click “Compose” to write a message.

On the next page, type in the username or the name of the user you are trying to email in the “Send to” field.

Enter a short, descriptive subject in the subject box (e.g. “Looking for good fossil spots in southwest Florida”)
Type your message into the “Message” box.
Click Send Message
Be sure to check your message for spelling and grammar errors as once your message has been sent, you cannot edit it.

How do I find fossil enthusiasts near me?

Chose Groups, then search for the name of your state. If there are no groups that are affiliated with your state, then you might try searching the Forums or creating a forum post indicating your interest to connect and location.

What’s the difference between an Interest Group and an Organization?

An Interest Group denotes a group which shares a common interest (e.g. fossil sharks, fossil brachiopods, etc.). An Organization is the myFOSSIL way of recognizing a more formal group of people, like an amateur paleontological club or society. For example, the Calvert Marine Museum Fossil Club is an organization in myFOSSIL. Anyone can join Interest Groups or Organizations. See the “How do I join an Interest Group?” and “How do I join an Organization?” FAQs below for more information.

How do I follow an Interest Group?

Click on ‘Groups’ from the six menus across the top of myFOSSIL. Find a group that you are interested in. Click the Follow Group button. You are now a member of that group! Social paleontology is about quickly finding people and groups and getting started in a conversation. So, follow as many groups as you like!

How do I follow an Organization?

It’s the same process as following an Interest Group. Just click on ‘Groups’ from the six menus across the top of myFOSSIL. Find an organization that you are interested in. Click the Follow Group button. You are now a member of that group!

If I follow an Organization, am I becoming a dues-paying member of that organization?

No, if you follow an Organization on myFOSSIL, you are not becoming a dues-paying member of that organization. You are joining the myFOSSIL community component of that organization which entails participating in that Organization’s discussions about paleontology on myFOSSIL. For information about how to become dues-paying member of a specific organization, contact that organization via their website or a member of the Organization.

How do I make an Organization or an Interest Group?

Click on the Groups tab.
Click on the Create a Group button in the upper right half of the screen. This will take you to the group creation page.
Fill in as much information as you can, as that will make your Organization more appealing to other users, then scroll to the bottom and click the Create Group and Continue button.
Select your preferred settings in the next screen. Click next and decide if you want your group to have a forum.
After you’ve decided this, click next step.
Upload an image that graphically depicts your group. Click next step.
Invite people from your friends list to join your group by checking the box next to their names.
After you’ve completed this step, click Finish. Your group has been created!

Where can I talk to people about a topic that’s interesting to me (e.g. preparation of fossils)?

Check out our forums! Click on the forums tab on the top menu. You can browse the forums by scrolling through them or search the forums by clicking the search box on the upper right hand side of the screen.

How do I report inappropriate content?

We are interested in all appropriate content related to understanding the natural world through the collection, preparation, curation and study of fossils and the science of paleontology. We expect respectful, collegial behavior. Report inappropriate content and poor behavior to our webmaster, Sadie Mills.

How do I upload an image?

You may upload an image for a fossil, for your profile picture or as a profile picture for any group that you create. These are the only types of images that can currently be added to myFOSSIL. All other images need to exist somewhere else on the Internet (e.g., Flickr, Instagram or Google Photos) and you link to them by adding a URL.
To change your profile image, click on the current profile image in the upper right hand corner of the screen and from the dropdown menu, select Profile.
You should now have an option to Change Profile Photo.
To change an image for a group, you must first be the owner of the group.
If not, then message the group’s owner and start a conversation about changing the image.
If you are the group’s owner, then select the group, then the Manage tab. You should now have a Photo option.
Changing the image(s) for a fossil is the same as for a group, you must be the owner.
If so, then when you select the fossil you will see a Manage Images button.

Who owns the images and do I retain copyright for them?

All content that is uploaded, generated or distributed by myFOSSIL, including fossil images, is covered under a Creative Commons license which describes how they work may be re-used and attributed.

What makes a good image?

A good image of a fossil is clear, well lit, and includes a scale bar. If possible, it is also useful to include multiple photos taken of different sides of the fossil. A solid color background in a contrasting color (i.e. a light background for a dark fossil) is also considered a component of a “good image”.

How much information does my image need?

[content coming]

How do I tell someone their image’s information needs to be corrected?

In this case, a private message to the author of the image is suggested.

What if I don’t want people to know where I found my fossil?

We understand that the location information for the origin of fossil images is often sensitive. Therefore, including it is only an option.

How do I find information about specific kinds of fossils (e.g. fossil sharks?)

People and conversations are the key information resource in myFOSSIL. Therefore, to find the best information about a specific kind of fossil, navigate to the Forums and look for a conversation or search by name. If images are what you desire, then choose the Fossils tab and search.

What’s a resource on myFOSSIL?

A resource on myFOSSIL is a collection of information that was created to be reused by others (e.g., a lesson plan or a field guide).

Where can I find academic papers about paleontology?

There are many open access paleontology journals online. Try the ones listed below, from The Open Source Paleontologist‘s blog. (Note: This list does not make any statements one way or another on the quality of the journals – just assembling a list!)

Acta Palaeontologica Polonica
American Journal of Science
American Museum Novitates
Biology Letters
Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History
Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology
Coloquios de Paleontología
Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology
Contributions in Science from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Estudios Geológicos
Geologica Acta
Joannea – Geologie und Paläontologie
Journal of Paleontological Techniques
Memoir of the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Natura Nascosta
Palaeontologia Electronica
Paläontologische Zeitschrift
PLoS Biology
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Revue de Paléobiologie
Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology
The Open Paleontology Journal
Vertebrata PalAsiatica

What are the rules for distributing academic papers via myFOSSIL?

Published academic papers are copyrighted material and should not be distributed without permission from the publisher and author.

How do I add a resource?

Currently, resources can only be added by the webmaster. If you wish to see a resource added, please contact Eleanor Gardner with a description of your resource.

I used a resource and it was great! How can I indicate that I used a resource and would recommend it?

Wonderful! We suggest contacting the author(s) and letting them know. Each resource should include author contact information. Secondarily, all content that is uploaded, generated or distributed by myFOSSIL, including fossil images, is covered under a Creative Commons license which describes how they work may be re-used and attributed. You can read about the myFOSSIL Creative Commons License here. If you just want to let the community know, then head over to the Forums and post a message!

3 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. Under the “My Profile” section, “Fossils” and “Specimens” are separate pages. What is the difference between uploading an object as a fossil vs. as a specimen?

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