by Ronny Leder & Victor Perez
Participants with a range of expertise and experience were selected to participate in our inaugural PaleoBlitz held March 18 – 20 in Gainesville, Florida to experience the museum curation process. It was not just time to look behind the scenes, but also to meet other like-minded people and share the joy of paleontology. Representatives from seven fossil clubs attended the event; these folks came from five different states to participate.
The main goal of the event was to teach best practices in paleontology through exposure to the entire curatorial process while refining the framework for future PaleoBlitzes. To achieve this goal, participants were shown the existing fossil collections at the Florida Museum of Natural History and then asked to identify and catalog the fossils from the Belgrade Mine in North Carolina. These fossils were collected by the FOSSIL Project team during the Aurora Fossil Festival in May 2015, and represent the first fossils from that locality in the FLMNH collections. Participants were also shown the prep lab and the latest 3D printing technology being used for education and outreach at UF.
Participants were intentionally selected with a range of expertise and experience level. One of the main purposes for bringing this diverse group together was to investigate how they would work together. To do so, the participants were separated into four teams each with their own set of fossils to sort, identify and document. The outcome was a fruitful discussion, resulting in a very positive collaboration among all participants. The four groups collectively cataloged roughly 400 specimens and entered the data into a separate temporary database.
On the second day, they were introduced to an optimal private collection while visiting Dr. Gordon Hubbell’s personal museum. Thanks to Dr. Hubbell who was so kind to allow us to have an inside view of his gorgeous collection of sharks, recent and fossil. Finally, participants were able to put their new knowledge to the test while collecting in Gainesville’s Possum Creek.
All and all it was a great time for everyone involved and there was unanimous consensus that this PaleoBlitz was a great success that certainly needs to continue. Stay tuned for announcements about the next PaleoBlitz!