I had the privilege of sitting in on a Webinar presentation on fossil preparation hosted on the MyFossil website and conducted by a professional named Rachel Narducci of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Although it is the last of Series 1- The Fundamentals of Fossils, the Series 2 Webinars will begin in January 2017 with the theme Women in Paleontology. Links are included at the bottom of the blog. First, I would like to thank My Fossil for letting me observe the live broadcast, I think I may have been the only Canadian in the webinar based on where everyone else said they were from. Second, I would like to thank the speaker Rachel Narducci for an informative webinar. I learned a fair deal and the information was paced such that I was able to take notes during the presentation.
Why do I watch webinars if I’m already a paleo student?
As a student with a paleontology major, it may sound like my educational experience should be complete. However, although we get to handle fossils in weekly or bi-weekly labs, the fossils are already perfectly prepared, labelled, and sitting out for us to study. This means that some of the necessary skills we need upon graduation to work in our field we normally do not have an opportunity to learn throughout the course of our studies, such as fossil collection/excavation and fossil preparation. Yes, there are chances to apply to be volunteers in a lab but they are either far and few between, or not advertised within the program. They are also generally competitive, which limits the pool of successful applicants even further. This is a shame since many of us will be entering jobs upon graduation that do not even look at our grades, they look at our experience and degree.
Fossil preparation and collection techniques should be taught to all whose major is paleontology much as the geologists have ‘field camp’ to collect and study mineral samples. I was lucky enough to be accepted into a suitable fossil-based summer research position, but the skills learned were significantly constrained since there was a finite variety of invertebrates in a narrow range of surrounding matrix, such as a soft clay or shale. It is for this reason that a Webinar series such as this allows for a greater educational experience, filling in the gaps in knowledge that we have accumulated. The opportunity to ask questions of those more experienced than ourselves in a safe environment also allows doubles as a fantastic networking event.
I have included clickable links to the Series 1 Webinars for convenience, the first two are on youtube, the final two I could not insert due to technical changes and will open in a new page. Enjoy!
Series 1 Webinars on http://www.myfossil.org
Webinar 1: Fossil Collection -> Starts 10 minutes in due to technical problems
Speaker: Mr. Jayson Kowinsky, http://www.fossilguy.com
Webinar 2: Field Notes 101
Speaker: Dr. Bruce MacFadden, Florida Museum of Natural History
Webinar 3: Fossil Excavation
Speaker: Dava Butler of Waco Mammoth National Monument & Montana State University
Webinar 4: Fossil Preparation
Speaker: Rachel Narducci of the Florida Museum of Natural History