In addition to being useful for paleoclimate reconstruction, microfossils have been useful in industrial settings as indicator fossils. Because many species are short lived and environment specific, paleontologists use them to determine the geological age and environment in which the foram was deposited. Oil companies often employ paleontologists to determine when an oil bearing rock layer has been reached. Because of this industrial use for forams, many of the collections we are working with were collected as part of oil drilling operations. More about forams from UCMP
Extant analogsSome of the organisms we encounter in the invertebrate paleontology lab have extant analogs that are studied by ecologists. Knowledge of habitats and behavior of certain genera in modern settings can help us to interpret the fossil record. Here are some videos that show some of the animals that are in the invertebrate fossil collections .
Video credit: nymdevente (youtube user)
Live Foram feeding
Video credit: foraminiferal (youtube user)
What are we contributing?This conservation and rehousing project will make the microfossil collections of the American Museum of Natural History more easily accessible to researchers and the general public. Of over 7,000 specimen lots in the AMNH microfossil collections, most specimens are types. By photographing type specimens, we are making it possible for researchers to see images of specimens before they decide to come to the museum in person.
Before this project started, many specimens were difficult to locate in their storage spaces at the museum. We are ensuring that specimens are correctly associated with the publications that describe them, and that their storage location and other important data are entered in an electronic database.
Another important part of this project is rehousing the specimens. Many older slides were housed vertically, allowing for fossils to fall out of the slides when the adhesive holding them in place decayed. We are rehousing slides in metal holders with glass cover slips. The slides are then stored horizontally in boxes according to the publication they are associated with.
|Work desk. At left is an original wooden slide box.|
|Specimens in their new home.|
We hope this interlude helped you understand the fossils we work with and the importance of this project. Look forward to our next weekly update: The Adventures of Week 4.