Fossils in storage: How do you sort through the backlog?

Discuss

8 Responses to “Fossils in storage: How do you sort through the backlog?”

  1. Boundegar says:

    From another angle, this seems like another reason to spend money on technology while cutting education budgets.  Why pay the researchers and students who would be needed to actually prepare and catalog and study these fossils, when you can automate the process?

    And then, if the scanning technology doesn’t perform as expected, well that’s an entirely separate issue – kind of like the TSA scanners that have been warehoused for years.

  2. Ito Kagehisa says:

    I would just like to comment on how nicely the fossils in the post pic are plastered.  Very tidily done.

    Edit: Also, the guy who figured out how to X-ray fossils (using wet towels, I’m told) is a very interesting character.

  3. alrom says:

    There are actually CT scanners for fossils, but as they say on a comment on the original article, CT doesn’t give good contrast between materials with similar densities, and fossils are basically rocks embedded in rocks so it’s not going to be easy to get good images!

    Here’s the comment that explains it much better than me: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/assignment-impossible/2012/10/03/a-modest-proposal-3-d-printing-of-fossils-still-trapped-in-matrix/#comment-106

  4. RobDobbs says:

    I wonder how Back Scatter, or some similar tech would work here, like in the airports. 

  5. Uthor says:

    I was reading/watching something about archaeological digs at a certain site giving up way more finds than could be every looked at by the current researchers.  Their solution was to preserve the site and only dig up small portions of it to learn what they could.  The rest was left in the ground undisturbed for future researchers to discover with theoretically better techniques and technologies.  Seemed like a reasonable solution: disturb what you must to learn as much as you can, but leave the rest pristine so others can come back and build on your work.

  6. I’ve sometimes wondered if some sort of in-place imaging might ever become feasible, rather like the echos used to hunt for oil deposits but much more detailed.

  7. redstarr says:

    They could invite interested amateurs to be a part of working through the backlog.  They could charge for the experience, killing two birds with one stone, dealing with the backlog while raising money to support other related programs and projects.  Grad students in a related field like Paleontology, Radiology, Biology, or maybe even Education, could supervise and work with the amateurs, letting them participate in analyzing and cataloging the fossils and learning about their finds.  In my area, there was an archaeological site that was about to be flooded by a new reservoir, and there wasn’t time or budget to have a big enough team of real archaeologists out to the site to excavate and catalog and deal with the artifacts.  So they rallied the couple of real archaeologists they could, and some college students close to graduation in related majors, and then opened it up to amateurs.  They had more response than they had need for people.  People were more than willing to pay to be a hands on part of the project. 

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