Fossils on the Northern Neck

In a great example of citizen science, local fossil collector Keith Fisher discovered an interesting site on the Northern Neck of Virginia (that’s the northern part of Virginia between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers). Through his contact with local land-owner Tim Self, Keith found the fossilized remains of the ear region of a whale, which he generously donated to the museum along with some other nice fossil remains he found at the site.


Fossil enthusiast Keith Fisher at his fossil discovery site.

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Coming to a close…

Guest blog by Aryanna “Baby-Hands” James


Unfortunately, it is about that time that I say goodbye as my internship comes to an end. However, I love it here so much that it is not an indefinite goodbye as I will surely be back to visit my newfound second home! Together Lucy and I met the goal of 8,910 insects to be photographed and cataloged, which is a lot if you ask me! Many of these triassic insects resemble their modern counterparts, which creates in me a new appreciation for insects living today.

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Posted in From the Collections Room, Invertebrate Paleontology, Museums, Newark Supergroup, Paleontological techniques, Solite Quarry | Leave a comment

Dinosaurs & Comic Books!!!

Comic books are an increasingly popular medium, yet their educational potential has been under-utilized. Moreover, dinosaurs and other ancient animals are frequently featured in comic books.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to fuse two things I love and see what was the potential for paleontology informal education through comic books.

Superman + Dino

Published by DC Comics (1991); Cover Art by Bob McLeod & Glenn Whitmore

At the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting this year in Calgary I presented an education poster on this nerd project of mine. I’m writing up a paper for formal publication on this, but I wanted to share some of the highlights with everyone here, since there was a lot of interest and it’ll probably be a while before that’s out.

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Will fame corrupt our sweet bugs-next-door, the Solite insects?



Well, our beloved Triassic insects have been making some science news as there have been a few recent papers published regarding the Solite fossils. Which begs the question- will fame corrupt these sweet fossils?

Fortunately, no. They have been dead for quite sometime. Anyway, I have to say it… LET’S SEE WHAT ALL THE BUZZ IS ABOUT!!

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Posted in From the Collections Room, General Geology, Invertebrate Paleontology, Newark Supergroup, Science and Technology, Solite Quarry | 1 Comment

INSECT 8,910!!

Well, we reached our goal back in mid-July! 8,910 fossil insects have been photographed and cataloged (This post is a bit late as we had been busy with fieldwork for the last two weeks)!

And here it is, our 8,910th fossil insect, in all of it’s glory:


VMNH99235; Backswimmer water bug

These mile-marking numbers never are quite spectacular, are they? We do have some spectacular fossil insects, but mostly, we have a lot of fossils that are a bit boring or lack some of the flashier, soft tissue aspects- so perhaps it is fitting that the numbers that represent progress are a bit run-of-the-mill…it certainly makes sense considering the ratios of the fossil remains.

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The Paleo Intern Says Goodbye (by Madison Pullis)

Hold onto your seats, folks, because the DINOSAUR FESTIVAL IS UPON US! As I write this post, museum staff are finishing everything for the grand opening of “Dinosaurs: Reign of the Giants!” For those of you wondering, the Dinosaur Festival starts Friday, July 21st and will continue into Saturday, July 22nd. Check the museum’s website or Facebook page for times and schedules. For those of you anxiously awaiting the opening, enjoy this sneak peek of the T-rex skull that will be on display next to a full-sized Triceratops skeleton and real Triceratops skull!


That’s me in the suit!  Meeting my cousin and his much larger skull in the new exhibit Dinosaurs: Reign of the Giants.

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Checking out Cave Bones (with B. Khameiss)


Alex Hastings (left) and Belkasim Khameiss (right) looking at bones from a Virginia cave.

Belkasim has been going through the bone fauna sampled from a cave in Bath County, Virginia. Most of the bones and teeth come from small mammals that are still alive in Virginia today, like shrews, bats, rabbits and raccoons.

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The Paleo Intern Returns! (Guest blog by Madison)

Since the last post, I’ve finished preparing the sauropod toe bone, prepped another sauropod vertebra, and cleaned two currently unidentified and unrelated bones I have named Jane and John Doe-nosaur (I bet you didn’t know I was so pun-ny). Along with my work in the lab prepping bones and a short trip to Saltville to attend the dig, I’ve been helping the museum get ready for the DINOSAUR FESTIVAL (July 21st-22nd)!!!


Bones on display for the upcoming exhibit: Dinosaurs: Reign of the Giants


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RECORD 8,000!

Well… Ary and I are still working on the fossil insect grant. Things are slowly moving forward- but we have reached over 8,000 records! Woohooo! We have about 700 more to go as we need to photograph and catalog 8,910 insects total.


Thysanoptera, aka Thrips; VMNH#98538; scale bar: 5 mm with 0.1 mm div.

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New Intern working on Virginia cave bones (guest blog written by Mr. B. Khameiss)


I am a new intern in the Paleo Lab at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, in association with the Smithsonian Institute. This is the first time I have been in this city and the museum as well. I am a PhD student from Ball State University, Geology Department, in Muncie, Indiana.

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