Guest Blog Follow-up: Franklin County High School Students Identify Mystery Fossils from VMNH

By William Schmachtenberg

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A fossil from VMNH that was not labelled.

On August 19, 2015, high school students at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, VA identified fossils that had not yet been identified from the VMNH collections. At first, they compared the fossils with books on fossils and determined that they were trilobites from the Cambrian Period.
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Checking out Carmel Church

As the new Asst. Curator of Paleontology, I wanted to see the well-known Carmel Church Quarry firsthand. It was a quick trip (Sunday to Tuesday) to check out this great fossil site. I headed over to Caroline County, Virginia with fellow VMNH paleontologist Christina Byrd to do a little digging.

View along the wall at the Carmel Church Quarry on Aug. 3 2015

View along the wall at the Carmel Church Quarry on Aug. 3 2015

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Guest Blog: Paleozoic Treasures at the Virginia Museum of Natural History

Today’s Guest Blog Post is by Bill Schmachtenberg, a VMNH Research Associate. In this blog, Bill shares his findings and experiences since working with me in the Invertebrate Paleontology Collection this summer.


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I am Bill Schmachtenberg, a research associate at VMNH. My interests include Cretaceous bivalves and Paleozoic invertebrates. I teach high school Earth Science at Franklin County High School and geology and paleontology at Ferrum College in Southwest Virginia. I am also an app developer, and I am interested in creating an app that identifies a fossil Continue reading

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Dinosaur Footprints in Culpeper VA

Luck Stone Quarry

Luck Stone Quarry

The paleontology crew from the VMNH headed up to Culpeper, Virginia to attend a special viewing of the impressive dinosaur trackways of the Luck Stone quarry. These fossils come from a roughly 210-million-year-old mudflat preserved in place and exposed within the quarry.

The Museum of Culpeper History put together a public event where more than 900 people could drive into the quarry and walk alongside the ancient footsteps of Virginia’s dinosaurs. Of course the museum’s paleontologists were on board!   Continue reading

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Solite Excavation: Day 27 and 28

Ray and Alex cleaning the outcrop before starting insect bed collection.

Ray and Alex cleaning the outcrop before starting insect bed collection.

Day 27: Picking up from two weeks ago, Ray and I, along with Alex (Dr. Hastings), headed out to Solite again to continue collecting the exposed insect bed. Due to the focus on the insect bed, we did not find much in the way of Tany.s or plants. Instead we Continue reading

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Welcome Alex Hastings – VMNH Assistant Curator of Paleontology

Photo by M. Scholz, Geiseltal Collection Archive, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Photo by M. Scholz, Geiseltal Collection Archive, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

I am happy to introduce Dr. Alex Hastings, VMNH’s new Assistant Curator of Paleontology! Dr. Hastings came to us from his postdoctoral fellowship in Germany at the Geiseltalmuseum. During his fellowship, he studied the ecology and evolution of fossil crocodilians from Germany, specifically the predator interactions and adaptations that occurred during a time of climate change. In March, Dr. Hastings and his colleagues Continue reading

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Solite Quarry Excavations: …Day 26?

Plant as tall as the pit is deep

Plant as tall as the pit is deep

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written an update for the Solite excavations. No, the excavations did not stop for three months. And really that’s the best part, despite if I write regular updates or not. I am happy to say that during these past months we have been able to continue removing the fish and Tanytrachelos bearing layers, therefore uncovering and collecting a significant amount of insect bed. This past Saturday, Ray and I spent the day  collecting as much of the exposed insect bed as possible before the rains came.

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