Online Fossil Projects Seeking Volunteers

Fossil Atmospheres

Zooniverse is an online platform that makes it possible for volunteers to contribute to scientific research through crowdsourcing. For example, in the “Bat Detective” project, volunteers listen to and classified the sounds bats make for echolocation and social purposes. In “Floating Forests,” volunteers scan satellite images to search for large masses of giant kelp in coastal ocean environments, and in “Science Gossip,” volunteers help digitize drawings from periodicals published during the Victorian Age. Volunteers in”Fossil Atmospheres” will be helping researchers at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History! The scientists are investigating how the cells of leaves on Ginkgos have changed over time, and whether we can use them to learn about climate change and the ancient atmosphere of the Earth. Why Ginko? Ginkgo trees evolved before the dinosaurs, survived three mass extinctions, and one species is still living today. The activity you will do is count cells on modern and fossil leaves. The site provides training as well as lots of  information about the science for those who are interested. The direct link to the project on zooniverse is


Miniature Fossils Magnified

Not into counting? Well, you can also digitally volunteer at the Natural History Museum (London) by transcribing (typing) specimen labels for slides of tiny marine fossils, otherwise known as foraminifera, preserved in thin slices of rock. Most of the fossil material was collected by scientists during the 20th century as part of oil exploration in the Middle East. This volunteer opportunity is available on the Notes from Nature site which supports transcription of all kinds of written documents. The site provides very clear instructions and background information about the fossils. The direct link to the project on Notes from Nature is  (You may get an alert that no projects are available; just wait a second and the project will pop up.)



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