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.


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

Posted in From the Collections Room, Invertebrate Paleontology, Science, education, and philosophy | Tagged , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Newark Supergroup, Vertebrate Paleontology | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Invertebrate Paleontology, Newark Supergroup, Solite Quarry | Leave a comment

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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Carboniferous Fossil Plants Kits Available!

Paleobot casts for blog

We in the paleontology department have been very fortunate to have Dr. DB Poli, a VMNH research associate and professor at Roanoke College, working at the museum during her sabbatical. Dr. Poli has been aiding me in the collections room to organize, check IDs, and catalogue a large portion of our paleobotany collection. Dr. Poli is also a member of the Dragon Research Collaborative. Team Dragon, as they call themselves, is:

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Posted in Boxley-Beckley, Paleobotany, Science, education, and philosophy | 1 Comment

Solite Excavation: Day 21 and 22


Our last two trips to Solite have been filled with plants, fish, and the occasional Tanytrachelos. Our crew for the last two trips were VMNH staff and accompanying weather that can’t decide if it wanted to be freezing cold or pleasantly warm. Over these two days, we were successful in collecting ~9 cubic feet of insect bed as well as several photogenic plant specimens. Many of these plants were collected by Kal who seems to have a knack for finding the large and weird plants of Solite. Continue reading

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