By MacKenzie Smith
My PhD research focuses on plants from a particular formation that is found only in Oregon. Thus, in order to do field work this summer (which for me included collecting specimens and doing ecological surveys) I drove out to Oregon from Florida. This was a perfect opportunity to reconnect in-person with fossil clubs and to continue my YouTube series “50 States of Fossils.” In Iowa, fellow University of Florida paleobotany graduate student Bob and I met up with MAPS, the Mid America Paleontological Society. We were met with excellent hospitality as we discussed the next day’s dig at the Rockford Fossil Quarry over pizza at University of Iowa Museum of Natural History Collection Manager’s house, Tiffany Adrain. We were joined by fellow MAPS members Dale (president), Marvin, and Jim. Following pizza, we had a tour of the collection. The next morning we went out collecting in Rockford with Dale, Marvin, and Glen. We also filmed the dig for the YouTube series. The dig was fun and a new experience for me since I had never found Devonian aged fossils before and have never dug in an old limestone quarry. The bountifulness and durability of the fossils was also a surprise to me. Everyone was a great help in showing us where and how to collect.
Once I got to Oregon in June, I presented some of my current research on fossil fruits belonging to the Ericales, a plant order that includes kiwis, tea, rhododendron, and blueberries, at the North America Research Group (NARG). Two weeks later I met up with members Aaron (president), Guy, and my parents to collect fossil mollusks from the approximately 15 million year old Astoria Formation and film the Oregon episode. Nothing unusual was found but we managed to recover a part of a Trophon kernensis (snail) and several Patinopecten prepatulata (scallop). While a major goal for FOSSIL is to foster an online community for sharing knowledge and experiences with paleontology, it was great to have in-person interactions with paleontology club members while on my trip. Stay tuned for our Iowa and Oregon episodes!