Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Week 6: More than Microfossils

Working on collections that haven't been looked at in nearly 100 hundred years always comes with challenges, and sometimes even some creepy crawlies. The collection previously used wooden boxes to store slides containing micro-fossils and these boxes allowed, and welcomed, some unwanted and unexpected critters of the arthropod variety to set up camp next to our micro-fossils.

This was found in a box of miscellaneous slides by Sam while rehousing specimens. The intruder, identified as a carpet beetle, was found alive scampering away across the table. 

This creepy crawly was found while Brittney was rehousing slides. There were two of these mysterious web-like cocoons on one slide, and several throughout a study collection. It appears to have a leg, possibly molted, of unknown origin dangling from the cocoon.   

This ostracod, Cythereis asperima, from the Schmidt 1939 collection was not only fastened onto the slide by glue, but cob webs too! There were nearly ten slides that exhibited evidence of arachnid presence.  

These intruders of creepy crawlers frequent museum collections, especially if the collection isn't properly cared for. Finding these on our slides and in our collection reiterates the importance of this project. Specimen preservation, and collection managing have changed significantly since these microfossils were first accessioned. For example, the reason why so many ostracods of the Schmidt, 1939 collection were covered with spider webs is because the glue used to secure the specimen to the slide is organic and apparently attracted spiders. In order to remedy this widely accepted use of organic glue in museum collections, the specimens must be cleaned and moved to fresh slides, and the old slide is discarded to prohibit any more unwanted guests.  

As time continues our methods and processes of collection management will continue to advance, allowing museum collections such as the AMNH microfossils, to be preserved and safe for years to come.  


  1. Carpet beetle larva. Must have died and dried out. I saw another insect specimen in the slide collection, but it was a dermestid beetle larva shed skin.

  2. Meant to say that the larva above is a common species of dermestid beetle known as the black carpet beetle, the name based on he adult beetle coloration.

  3. Lou,

    Thank you so much for your input. Your comments validate the importance of curation, conservation and preservation of our microfossil collection. We appreciate your help in identifying the species of carpet beetle infesting the slides.