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

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MPRI was not able to hold any events in 2020 but below is a summary of our past events.

2019 EVENTS:

In October, our annual National Fossil Day took place at the Oak Bluffs Public Library. See pictures from this event on the Oak Bluffs Library's Facebook page here.

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.


Specimens purchased
with the help of our generous donors.

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