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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Posted in From the Collections Room, Museums, Newark Supergroup, Saltville, Solite Quarry, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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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The Paleo Lab Welcomes A New Intern! (A guest blog by Madison Pullis)


Hello everyone! I am one of the new interns invading the Virginia Museum of Natural History this summer. My name is Madison Pullis and I can be found in the Paleontology lab most days. I am from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and just graduated from Iowa State University this past May. I majored in Anthropology, and minored in Environmental Studies and Sociology. I have some experience within anthropology – last summer I spent time in Costa Rica studying howler monkeys and I’ve also helped Dr. Matt Hill, an archaeologist at Iowa State studying the late Pleistocene/early Holocene time period (to put it simply), with research on extinct peccaries from Peccary Cave in Indiana.

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Return to Carmel Church

A couple weeks ago the VMNH paleo team returned to the renowned Carmel Church fossil site for a few days of excavation.  This 14 million-year-old marine site has been producing for years and this time was no less. We had a pretty good haul, including something extra special we’ll have to excavate out next time.


VMNH fossil preparator, Ray Vodden, with a whale vertebra.

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A haiku!

As we near out grant deadline, Ayranna and I have been working hard to finish up the digitization project. Things have begun to slow down, as we are running out of prepared specimens and now must take extra time to look on slabs have not been pre-checked nor sorted. We end up looking at a lot of slabs that only have plants or shell fragments and no insects. In terms of numbers for this grant, those slabs are worthless, though we do try to mark anything interesting for future researchers. But we need to keep moving forward on the insects, and cannot stop to take time photographing other things.


All the slabs we have searched through this last month with no insects present. They are to be stored in their appropriate cabinets to be available for future study.

However, we are making progress– we have reached our 7,000th record! Again, similar to our 6,000th record from March, it is not a very exciting specimen. Yet, we are proud of our progress and want to celebrate!



Our 7,000th Record! VMNH#97321; indet. insect abdomen fragment, scale bar: 5 mm with 0.1 mm div. 

Our 7,000th record! To commemorate this moment, Aryanna has written a Haiku!

Searching with the ‘scope

For record seven thousand

a bug butt I see.

In other news, Senator Tim Kaine stopped by last week for a tour of the museum and came into the lab to see some of the Solite fossil specimens.


Dr. Alex Hastings discusses the value of keeping donated orphan collections, one of which features a very important triceratops horn; with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. 

You can read about Senator Kaine’s visit here: in a write-up by the local Martinsville Bulletin. And we are preparing to be a designated stop For the Garden Club of Virginia on the Historic Garden Week tour. We will be assembling a giant cycad fossil to have on display, and the Solite fossils will also be out for folks to study under a microscope.

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Casting up a storm!

The VMNH paleontology lab has been busy making many different casts for several upcoming exhibit and outreach projects.  Paleo labs often make copies of important fossils so they can be shared with other museums and researchers, used in displays, and brought around for people to see and touch.


Beaver skeleton cast being mounted in a sitting position (it’s rolled on it’s back right now) for an upcoming display at Radford University.

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