FOSSIL Project Updates Winter 2017

by Sadie Mills, FOSSIL Project Coordinator

FOSSIL Roadshow Webinar Series

In October, we continued the FOSSIL Roadshow webinar series in Dallas, where we learned about Pennsylvanian Fossils of North Texas with the Dallas Paleontological Society and Dr. Merlynd Nestell of UT Arlington. The wonderful members of DPS shared some incredible specimens, including a beautiful nautiloid, crinoid stem with attached bryozoan, microfossils, and more!  Watch a recording of the episode here:

Screenshot from Dallas Roadshow Webinar

In November, we took a break from the Roadshow to bring you A FOSSIL Feast, a webinar on the fossil history behind favorite holiday foods.  Thanks to all on myFOSSIL and our social media outlets who submitted topic recommendations for this webinar. If you missed the program, check out the recording here:

Screenshot from FOSSIL Feast Webinar

In December, the FOSSIL Roadshow traveled to Greenville, North Carolina, where the Special Friends of the Aurora Fossil Museum presented Fossils of the Carolinas. If you missed this episode, check out the recording at

As our Fall 2017 webinar series draws to a close, FOSSIL would like to express some gratitude to all who made the episodes possible. The first thanks go to FOSSIL webinar staff, including Sharon Holte and Victor Perez for providing technical support, Michael Le for creating social media promotions and live-tweeting the events, and Bruce MacFadden and MacKenzie Smith for researching and presenting ancient foods during A FOSSIL Feast. We’d also like to thank Lisa Lundgren for serving as the FOSSIL Feast moderator, and Jeanette Pirlo for moderating and providing support throughout the series.

Additionally, we want to thank the club members and paleontologists who shared their time, specimens, and knowledge with us during the webinars, including the Dry Dredgers, Dr. Brenda Hunda of the Cincinnati Museum, the Dallas Paleontological Society, Dr. Merlynd Nestell of UT Arlington, the Special Friends of the Aurora Fossil Museum, and Dr. Bobby Boessenecker of the College of Charleston. This webinar series would not have been possible without their time and support!

Finally, thank you to all who attended and participated in the webinar episodes. We enjoyed “seeing” everyone online and helping to answer some phenomenal questions!

Website and Mobile App

Coming soon- a new look to the myFOSSIL homepage! Thank you to everyone in the community who provided feedback on the proposed redesign, which was created by our web developer Atmosphere Apps. Be on the lookout for myFOSSIL’s new look early in Spring 2018.

We are also considering further website upgrades, including the development of a badge system for myFOSSIL participants. A badge system would allow us to provide recognition for myFOSSIL users that contribute significantly to the community, such as through uploading fossils or providing expertise in an identification forum. We are still in the development phase of this system, but look forward to recognizing the knowledge and work of our community members!

In other website news, some of you have recently encountered unwanted messages from spam accounts on myFOSSIL. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience these messages may have caused, and are working diligently to alter our registration process so spam users cannot access the site. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we get these protections in place. Please continue to alert us to suspicious activity on the site, as we want to address spam issues as quickly as we can.

Finally, the National Science Foundation has awarded FOSSIL funds for use in the development of a myFOSSIL mobile app! We have just begun the design process, but are looking forward to bringing our community a new tool to use in the field.

Guest Lecture: Jonathan Hendricks and the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life

On November 3rd, distinguished lecturer Jonathan Hendricks of the Paleontological Research Institute (PRI) gave a talk at the Harn Museum on the University of Florida campus. This free, public lecture was sponsored by the FOSSIL Project, the Paleontological Society, and iDigBio. During the talk, Dr. Hendricks showcased PRI’s online identification resource, The Digital Atlas of Ancient Life. You can learn more about the Digital Atlas here:

Jonathan Hendricks presenting on the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life

National Fossil Day

The FOSSIL Project joined fossil clubs from around Florida to celebrate National Fossil Day at the Florida Museum of Natural History on November 4th, 2017. During the event, more than 1,000 visitors were able to take part in a children’s dig pit and screenwash activity, as well as view amazing specimens shared by Florida’s fabulous fossil clubs! Many thanks to the following individuals and organizations for coming together to put on this fun-filled event: Florida Fossils Hunters, Southwest Florida Fossil Club, Fossil Club of Lee County, Manasota Fossil Club Florida, Paleontological Society, Florida Geologic Survey,Florida Geological Foundation, Gunther Lobisch, Valerie First, and Florida Museum of Natural History.

Southwest Florida Fossil Club at the Florida Museum National Fossil Day Celebration


We’d also like to thank the Florida Museum staff and students who helped put on the event, including Jeanette Pirlo, Sharon Holte, Sean Moran, Victor Perez, Michelle Barboza, Isaac Magallanes, Michael Ziegler, Claudia Grant, Laura Cotton, Carmi Thompson, Sean Roberts, Rafal Narwot, Kris Kusnerik, Shamindri Tennakoon, Fatemah Jamal, and Roger Portell. These individuals volunteered their time and knowledge to make National Fossil Day a success.

Social Media

Facebook- We are excited to announce we have over 4,000 “likes” on Facebook! Facebook is just one of the many ways we connect with amateur and professional paleontologists, so we are excited to continue growing our social paleontology network.

Instagram- Through the hard work of our social media intern, Michael Le, FOSSIL now has an active Instagram profile. We are using the account to share photos of myFOSSIL member specimens and FOSSIL events. Follow us at to see these photos and more!

Program Evaluation

As The FOSSIL Project moves into its final year of grant funding, our external evaluator will begin contacting the community this spring regarding participation in a summative survey of the project. The feedback gained from this survey will be critical to understanding the broader impacts of FOSSIL, and will be invaluable as we decide which aspects of myFOSSIL to preserve and maintain for the future. If you encounter this survey, we ask that you please participate, and thank you in advance.

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