Fossil Heritage Collection

With the help of Concord, Massachusetts photographer Faith Margolin, our online gallery of fossil acquistions features...

The Institute is an active force in preserving our fossil heritage. In most instances acquisition is by purchase of specimens offered for sale in various venues or from gifts. Acquired specimens are examined and documented prior to depositing them in the most appropriate institution for research, education and museum display.

At this time acquisition emphasis is on Paleozoic stelleroids, a choice that leverages the research experience of Institute director Dr. Hotchkiss who is leading this effort. This emphasis responds to the fact that stelleroids are very underrepresented in existing museum collections and that there is more material of greater diversity in private hands than in public institutions. The Institute is grateful to the hobbyists and collectors who have found these specimens and responsibly kept them. If it were not for these motivated individuals these specimens might not exist today. A chosen aim of the Institute is to try to transition this part of our fossil heritage into public institutions for long term custody and greatest public and scientific access.

In selecting a recipient institution we give highest consideration to the relevance of the specimen to the permanent collections of the institution. In addition we consider whether the institution and its collections are a magnet for visiting scientists who work on this type of fossil, and whether the access and lending policies support international collaboration among scientists. To most fully accomplish our mission, we give preference to institutions that electronically catalog their collections so that researchers around the world can locate specimens through the internet (paleoinformatics initiatives). We ask that acknowledgement of donation by MPRI be associated with the specimen.

A pressing need is to have friends and supporters who will act to acquire scientifically important specimens at the moment that the specimens are available for acquisition. Lost opportunities cannot be recaptured. In many instances the specimens are so rare or special that they are simply one-of-a-kind. In other instances the supply is so limited that the window of opportunity may last only a few weeks or months. These quick-action circumstances preclude going through a grant-seeking cycle to make the acquisition. We know of at least one museum where there are friends of the collection who will respond to the moment by bidding on eBay or taking similar instant action to try to acquire specimens that are significant to the public and scientific mission of the institution. Please let us know if you would like to support the MPRI Fossil Heritage Collection in this participatory, exciting, and satisfying way.

sunflower sea star


Come celebrate National Fossil Day with MPRI at the Oak Bluffs Public Library -- Thursday, 17 October 2019, from 4pm to 7:45pm. This event is free and for all ages -- students to grandparents. We are thrilled to say that National Fossil Day on Martha’s Vineyard is partially supported by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Looking back
In May we took fossil programs for seniors to Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and in June to The Anchors Senior Center in Edgartown in collaboration with the Martha's Vineyard Center for Living and in collaboration with the MV Museum.

In April Susie Bowman
and Fred Hotchkiss presented
Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods,
a free lecture and slide show about lives and history of horseshoe crabs and opportunities to be involved in the Horseshoe Crab Citizen Science Survey Project -- at the West Tisbury, Edgartown and Oak Bluffs libraries

In March we visited two 8th grade science classes of Mrs. Connie Alexander in Tisbury, bringing a range of fossils for study and discussion.

In March we brought touchable fossils to preschoolers at the Island Children's School in West Tisbury.

In February we visited the 7th grade science classes of Ms. Lea Dorr in Oak Bluffs as they studied geology and the history of beach pebbles found on the Vineyard.

In February we served on the panel of judges at the MVRHS 2015 Science Fair. We also provided an MPRI Award which went to Patrick Best and Pearl Vercruysse.

In December we visited the MVRHS science class of Ms. Anna Cotton to incorporate SEA STARS into their studies of Island fisheries and Vineyard marine life.

In November MPRI Director Dr. Fred Hotchkiss received the Russel P. Stanhope Distinguished Friend of Science Award from the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers (MAST), with huge thanks for being nominated by Tisbury 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher Mrs. Connie Alexander.

Fossil Fred brought a carload of fossils to Mr. David Faber's 8th grade science classes, Wednesday, October 22, Edgartown School.

MPRI celebrated National Fossil Day on Martha’s Vineyard: Thursday October 16th in partnership with the Oak Bluffs Public Library and the National Parks Service. The event was free to all, and 230 children, parents, teachers and fossil enthusiasts participated.

We assisted in Archaeology ID Day at the Martha's Vineyard Museum, 30 August, and the public brought in great finds from around the Vineyard.

We presented a FAMILY-ORIENTED HANDS-ON-FOSSILS PROGRAM at the Edgartown Library on 5 August, with co-presenter biological oceanographer Wendy Culbert. Thirty-five persons, including 25 children, happily experienced fossils.

WE LED CITIZEN SCIENTIST volunteers doing horseshoe crab spawning surveys in May and June in Lake Tashmoo.

In May we visited the WEST TISBURY FOURTH GRADE classes of Rebecca Solway and Jen McHugh with buckets of sea water and LIVING SEA STARS

Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods
3/20 at Oak Bluffs Library
3/25 at Vineyard Haven Library
4/9 at Chilmark Library
4/16 at Edgartown Library

MPRI was a sponsor of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School
Science Fair,
8 February, 2014.

Looking back
Fossil Fred visited the 5th and 6th grade science classes of Ms Justen Walker and Ms Nicole Pereira on Monday, December 16th, 2013 in Westport, MA

Fossil Fred visited the West Tibury 1st grade class of Ms Tessa Wall on Friday, November 15, 2013

Looking back
the Fourth Annual NATIONAL FOSSIL DAY was celebrated at the OAK BLUFFS PUBLIC LIBRARY on Thursday, October 17, 2013, 4PM to 7:45PM. About 180 people came to the event.

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Specimens purchased
with the help of our generous donors.

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