This post is brought to you by Dr. Lindsay Zanno, head of Paleontology for the Museum. Thanks, Lindsay!
What do armadillo tails, 230 million year old crocodylomorph skeletons, and crayfish in a jar have in common? They’re all part of the North Carolina Museum’s incredible collection of specimens, and they’re all tucked safely away in the museum’s underbelly for future generations of scientists and enthusiasts. Unfortunately, few of them ever make it onto exhibition for the public to view.
Enter FossilPhiles, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ new effort to bring our most amazing fossil specimens out of the basement and into the realm of public exploration! We’ve enlisted young scientists in 8th-11th grade to create 3D models of our paleontological collections and upload them into an interactive, open-access database. The students learn critical skills in digital technology, get one-on-one mentoring with our paleontologists, and contribute authentic data that scientists will use to study ancient life. In turn, the database will give you, the public, a behind-the-scenes pass to connect with the heart of the museum, our collections, and brings the core of our mission to life.
The database itself is already filling up with one-of-a-kind fossil relics including ancient crabs, new species of dinosaurs, and bizarre soft-bodied life that lived on Earth half a billion years ago. In just a few more weeks we expect to launch the database portal. In the meantime, we invite you to get ready for a new kind of adventure!
You can follow along with the progress of the FossilPhiles project online at https://fossilphiles.wordpress.com/.