Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Week 3: The Saga Continues

Hello again,
It's business as usual for the microfossils interns. Here is a recap of our week.

Week three was short and sweet due to the national holiday, but we still managed to get a lot done.
We assigned over 300 new AMNH catalog numbers. Some of us also got to do CT scan reconstructions in preparation for the samples we will be running next week.
Hard at work on the database

Disasters arise!

Sometimes the microfossils get away! Many items in our collection are from research projects that were done almost a century ago. Glue and tape begin to break down over time, so we must rehouse our material on new slides. Even with the lightest touch we are in danger of breaking fragile samples or having a sample 'jump' off of its original slide. When that happens, we do our best to recover our fallen comrades.

Shaun assisting in the recovery of an ostracod

Dustracod sighting

Sometimes samples that were thought to be missing are recovered near the working area or in the original box. We do our best to keep our collection as complete as possible.

In our attempts to locate ostracods, we stumbled upon a strange and interesting specimen.
"Dustracod"? "Dustram"? What are you?

At first we thought the specimen to be a foram or a lost specimen from last year's intern. It turns out it was just a spec of dust or perhaps a mineral from other researchers who visit our lab.
We thus named the "specimen" the dustracod and continued our search. We have yet to locate our slippery holotype.

WOW! Look at that photogenic fossil!

Here is a photo of a nummulite Kat photographed this week. There is evidence of the beginnings of pyritization - or pyrite decay - in this specimen.

A nummulite undergoing pyritization

A close up of the pyritized section

See? The mineral pyrite is forming in certain areas of the fossil. There is also a fine white dust seen in the cracks of the fossil. Though this may look like the matrix the fossil was found in, it is actually an early stage of pyrite decay. Unfortunately, this means that the fossil is in a state of degradation, and will soon be unable to use, unless something is done. Our rehousing project is a preventative action against this development, as one of the main reasons that pyrite decay occurs is because of increased humidity.

Tour of the Week

This week we visited the Icthyology department with Rad Arindell. We saw how they obtained and preverved specimens for their dried and alcohol collections. As a bonus we also got to see the famous "living fossil fish" Coelacanth.

That's a lot of alcohol!

The saga of microfossil digitization continues...
Until next time
-Ipmicrofossils team

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