Your donation enables the Institute to pursue its mission of education and research in marine and paleobiological sciences. The impact of gifts to the Institute is
  1. international collaborative research on marine and paleobiological subjects
  2. assisting students and researchers
  3. preserving portions of the world fossil heritage
  4. creating opportunities for public participation and education in science
  5. getting young people interested in these areas of science.

Our latest news on the Institute's accomplishments, thanks to its supporters

ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2014

The Institute gratefully receives significant gifts of funds, books and specimens from its supporters. YOU MAKE IT POSSIBLE: Your donations support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses. Educational activities include website development; materials development; resource acquisition; classroom visits; public lectures; and disseminating educational materials. Our largest single educational event of the year is organizing and celebrating National Fossil Day on Martha’s Vineyard, which we do in partnership with the Oak Bluffs Library and the National Parks Service.

A shorthand report on 2014 -- we served 655 students, parents, teachers, and citizenry –

On Tuesday 12/16 we visited the MVRHS alternative education science class of Ms. Anna Cotton to bring SEA STARS into their studies of Island fisheries and Vineyard marine life.

In November MPRI Director Dr. Fred Hotchkiss received the Russell 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.

We assisted and participated in the Winter Walk at the Gay Head Cliffs led by Bob Woodruff and the Vineyard Conservation Society on 22 November.

Fossil Fred brought fossils to Mr. David Faber's Edgartown 8th grade science classes on 22 October to discuss fossils and evolution.

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 for identification.

We presented a FAMILY-ORIENTED HANDS-ON-FOSSILS PROGRAM at the Edgartown Library on 5 August, with co-presenter biological oceanographer Wendy Culbert.

In July "Fossil Fred" engaged young people at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary (nine groups of students), and additional family-groups at MPRI, with fossils "FROM THE QUARRY TO THE CLASSROOM".

WE LED CITIZEN SCIENTIST volunteers doing horseshoe crab spawning surveys on the Vineyard in May and June.

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

WE PRESENTED A FREE PUBLIC LECTURE AT FOUR LIBRARIES --- Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods on 3/20 at Oak Bluffs Library; 3/25 at Vineyard Haven Library; 4/9 at Chilmark Library; 4/16 at Edgartown Library

In February: PEBBLES IN THE CLASSROOM – We assisted students in the Oak Bluffs 7th grade science classes of Mrs. Dorr write geological histories of locally found pebbles that each brought to the classroom.

In February MPRI was a sponsor of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High Sschool Science Fair. The 2014 MPRI award went to Mary McCarthy and Lena Hanschka for their project titled – The Effect of Different Salinities on Brine Shrimp

ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2013

The Institute gratefully receives significant gifts of funds, books and specimens from its supporters. YOU MAKE IT POSSIBLE: Your donations support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses. Educational activities include website development; materials development; resource acquisition; classroom visits; public lectures; and disseminating educational materials. Our largest single educational event of the year is organizing and celebrating National Fossil Day on Martha’s Vineyard, which we do in partnership with the Oak Bluffs Library and the National Parks Service.

FOSSILS IN THE CLASSROOM – MPRI brought “fossils in the classroom” to two Edgartown eighth grade science classes as the students were studying about evolution. Students asked questions and discussed concepts as they examined and handled the fossils, some of which were found on the Island; the fossils introduce them to the evidence from paleontology. During the summer, “Fossil Fred” engaged eight groups of young people at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, and several additional groups at MPRI, with fossils “from the quarry to the classroom”. The fossils and handouts for these programs were substantially supported by a grant from the Staples Foundation.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Science Fair – 16 February 2013 – MPRI sponsors a $50 award for an outstanding marine or coastal science project that might include any aspect of science, fishing, engineering or conservation. Awarded in 2013 to Molly Houghton and Lindsey Dario for their project titled "The Effect of Eelgrass on Sea Squirts".

NATIONAL FOSSIL DAY – A FREE PUBLIC EVENT – MPRI collaborated with the Oak Bluffs Public Library, especially the Children’s Librarian Zoe Thompson, to celebrate National Fossil Day on Martha’s Vineyard: October 17th. We had about 180 people drop in – many grade schoolers with parents; but all age groups came. In addition to MPRI, presenting participants were MV Museum curator Anna Carringer; Dr. Maurice Tivey of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, prehistorian and artist Duncan Caldwell, dinosaur hunter and ophthalmologist Dr. Henry Kriegstein, paleobotanist and landscape gardener Dr. Alicia Lesnikowska, diving contractors and diving instructors Heidi Raihofer and Joe Leonardo, grade schoolers Jacob and Sam Gurney who like to travel to fossil destinations on family vacations, and artist and swimming instructor Michael Wooley. Some attendees brought fossils of beauty, interest, and variety, most of which were found on the Island. The presenters showed to the interested public, and especially to youngsters, special pieces from their private collections. They shared their knowledge and passion, and they mingled and conversed and listened and explained. Television coverage of the 2013 event by Bob Tankard (his program:Tank Talks) will be shown and available on MVTV.org beginning 11/22/13. MPRI fossils and handouts were substantially supported by a grant from the Staples Foundation. National Fossil Day will return to the Oak Bluffs Library on 16 October 2014 -- save the date.

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE in collaboration with Susie Bowman, Teacher/Naturalist at Felix Neck Wildlife Preserve, and Coordinator of the Island’s Horseshoe Crab Spawning Surveys – Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods: a talk given 24 April at the Vineyard Haven Library. We used this opportunity also to inform the public of the May and June horseshoe crab spawning surveys and to seek volunteer citizen scientists for this event.

SCIENCE FOR CITIZENS – MPRI was an invited partner at the Celebrating Citizen Science event at Felix Neck, 11 May, with MPRI celebrating scientific and avocational paleontology. MPRI helped to create, and now participates, in the annual horseshoe crab (HSC) mating surveys conducted by Felix Neck Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary at peak high tides in May and June on Martha’s Vineyard. MPRI helped recruit and lead citizen scientist volunteers in the 2013 surveys. The data are used by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to monitor and regulate the horseshoe crab fishery. MPRI is a member of the HSC Science Committee that advises the DMF (meeting in New Bedford). Also in 2013, MPRI contributed an interpretive science poster presentation on the structure of starfish at the eighth Founders Symposium presented by the Western Interior Paleontological Society (WIPS), March 16-17, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado. We received a 2013 WIPS Karl Hirsch Memorial Research Grant to study Lower Carboniferous brittlestars of modern aspect and to investigate the significance of their small size.

FOSSIL HERITAGE ACTIVITIES: MPRI acquired 43 specimens of research significance, including 21 received as gifts from donors. We also received gifts of specimens for use in the classroom. MPRI has active research projects with scientists in USA, Canada, and Czech Republic. MPRI deposits Fossil Heritage specimens into museum collections for research, education, and public display. Twelve specimens were donated to the permanent collections of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. The YPM was selected because it is a magnet for scientists working on related materials and because the YPM catalog can be searched on the internet. Research specimens were donated also to the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (qty.3).

ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2012

The Institute gratefully received significant gifts of funds, books and specimens from its supporters. YOU MAKE IT POSSIBLE: Your donations support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses. Educational activities include website development; materials development; resource acquisition; classroom visits; public lectures; and disseminating educational materials.

FOSSILS IN THE CLASSROOM -- MPRI was invited to the Chilmark Elementary School in March where they have a fabulous group of K-5 children and teachers. My fellow presenter was 3rd grader Jacob Gurney from the Oak Bluffs School who brought his collection, enthusiasm and growing knowledge to the table. We set up three tables of fossils in their huge foyer; this was a ‘please touch’ event. The fifty K-5ers split into ten groups and circulated, asking questions, picking up and examining the materials, and intelligently connecting with ideas and the spirit of discovery. In April MPRI attended the Vineyard Montessori School bringing fossils to the classroom of the elementary school students for a learning experience. “Fossil Fred” engaged young people with fossils “from the quarry to the classroom” at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in July, and also several times at MPRI by individual request.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Science Fair – 11 February 2012 – MPRI sponsors a $50 award for an outstanding marine or coastal science project that might include any aspect of science, fishing, engineering or conservation. Awarded in 2012 to Galen Mayhew for his project titled "Natural Water Filtration".

NATIONAL FOSSIL DAY – A FREE PUBLIC EVENT – MPRI collaborated with the Oak Bluffs Public Library, especially the Children’s Librarian, to celebrate National Fossil Day on Martha’s Vineyared: October 18th. We had about 100 people drop in – many grade schoolers with parents; but all age groups came. In addition to MPRI, participants were MV Museum educator Nancy Cole; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Geology and Geophysics Chairman Maurice Tivey; collectors Heidi Raihofer and Joe Leonardo who are diving contractors and instructors; paleobotanist Alicia Lesnikowska who is also a landscape designer; collector and artist Michael Wooley who is also a swimming instructor; Amy Sklar and John Bassett of Galadirals on Circuit Ave who are collectors and dealers in fossils and minerals; and gradeschoolers Jacob and Sam Gurney who like to travel to fossil destinations on family vacations. Some attendees brought fossils; and others described things they had found but did not have in hand. The presenters showed to the interested public, and especially to youngsters, special pieces from their private collections. They shared their knowledge and passion, and they mingled and conversed and listened and explained. We are planning to do it again on 17 October 2013 at the Oak Bluffs Library -- save the date.

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE in collaboration with Susie Bowman, Teacher/Naturalist at Felix Neck Wildlife Preserve, and Coordinator of the Island’s Horseshoe Crab Spawning Surveys – Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods: a talk given in April at the Vineyard Haven Library. We used this opportunity also to inform the public of the May and June horseshoe crab spawning surveys and to seek volunteer citizen scientists for this event. Also, INVITED SPEAKER at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center in July on the theme of enjoying the reverence and wonder of starfish.

SCIENCE FOR SCIENTISTS – Contributed a poster presentation at the 14th International Echinoderm Conferenc, August 20-24, held at the Royal Academy of Sciences of Belgium, Brussels. The presented research was on the organization of the body plan of starfish: Revised extraxial-axial homologies in Asteroidea. The full length paper was published in the August issue of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.

FOSSIL HERITAGE ACTIVITIES: MPRI acquired 50 specimens of research significance, including 46 received as gifts from donors. We also received gifts of specimens for use in the classroom. MPRI has active research projects with scientists in USA, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic and Poland. MPRI deposits Fossil Heritage specimens into museum collections for research, education, and public display. Eighty specimens were donated to the permanent collections of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. The YPM was selected because it is a magnet for scientists working on related materials and because the YPM catalog can be searched on the internet. Research specimens were donated also to the University of New Orleans (qty. 2) and to the Natural History Museum, Vienna (qty 1).

ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2011

The Institute gratefully received significant gifts of funds, books and specimens from its supporters. YOU MAKE IT POSSIBLE: Your donations support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses. Educational activities include website development; materials development; resource acquisition; classroom visits; public lectures; and disseminating educational materials.

NATIONAL FOSSIL DAY – A FREE PUBLIC EVENT – MPRI collaborated with the Oak Bluffs Public Library, especially the Children’s Librarian, to celebrate National Fossil Day on Martha’s Vineyared: October 13th, 2011, 4:00 PM – 7:45 PM. We had about 75 people drop in – many grade schoolers with parents; but all age groups came. Besides MPRI, we had five adults, including the Education Coordinator of the MV Museum, and one third-grader, who brought displays of fossils to show and discuss. Some attendees brought in things; and others described things they had found but did not have in hand. The presenters showed to the interested public, and especially to youngsters, special pieces from their private collections. They shared their knowledge and passion, and they mingled and conversed and listened and explained. Here are some images. We are planning to do it again on 18 October 2012 -- save the date.

PEBBLES IN THE CLASSROOM – Dr. Hotchkiss assisted students with “pebble histories” in the 7th grade science classes at the Oak Bluffs Middle School in February and December 2011. The beach pebbles on Martha's Vineyard were brought here by the glaciers of the Ice Age and are extremely diverse in type and origins. The students write a history and explanation of a pebble that they bring to the classroom. ALSO – FOSSILS IN THE CLASSROOM – Dr. Hotchkiss engaged students with “fossils in the classroom” at two 8th grade science classes at the Edgartown School in November. “Fossil Fred” engaged young people with fossils “from the quarry to the classroom” at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in July and August, and at a West Tisbury 1st and 2nd grade class in October, and also several times at MPRI by individual request.

THE HORSESHOE CRAB ATTENDS KINDERGARTEN [at the request of a grandson] – beach-collected moulted shells of horseshoe crabs were brought from MV by suitcase to the Kindergarten class at Flower Valley Elementary Public School in Rockville, Maryland, for a learning activity.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Science Fair – February – MPRI sponsors a $50 award for an outstanding marine or coastal science project that might include any aspect of science, fishing, engineering or conservation. Awarded in 2011 to Charlotte McCarron for her project titled “Got Nitrogen".

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE in collaboration with Susie Bowman, Teacher/Naturalist at Felix Neck Wildlife Preserve, and Coordinator of the Island’s Horseshoe Crab Spawning Surveys – Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods: a talk given in April 2011 at the Chilmark Free Public Library. We used this opportunity also to inform the public of the May and June horseshoe crab spawning surveys and to seek volunteer citizen scientists for this event. Also, INVITED SPEAKER at the international Inglese Dinamico on Martha's Vineyard in June, talking with foreign high school students about the horseshoe crab.

SCIENCE FOR THE CITIZEN – A Lecture on Relativity and Related Topics Intended for a General Audience, April 9, by Dr. Eric Brodheim, Saturday Lecture Series at the MV Regional High School. Co-sponsored by MPRI and by ADULT COMMUNITY EDUCATION OF MV. See poster for more details ALSO – Observations on Onychaster, a Carboniferous fossil brittle-star, in collaboration with Dr. Alexander Glass: poster presented at the Western Interior Paleontological Society's Founders Symposium, February 12-13, 2011, in Denver, Colorado. The presented research was supported in part by a Western Interior Paleontological Society 2008 Karl Hirsch Memorial Research Grant. The manuscript has been submitted to the editors of the 7th ECE conference proceedings (Göttingen University).

SCIENCE FOR SCIENTISTS – Contributed two poster presentations at the 6th North American Echinoderms Conference, August 14-19, held at the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory of Walla Walla University, on Anacortes Island, WA. One was a repeat presentation of unpublished Onychaster research with coauthor Dr. Alex Glass, Duke University. The other was new research on a rare occurrence of failure to regenerate a severed arm in a starfish from the Indian Ocean, with coauthor John Keesing of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Wembley, Western Australia. Abstracts were published in the December issue of Gulf of Mexico Science [vol. 29, issue no. 2, p. 144]. Other new research on the anatomy, development, and growth of starfish is nearly ready for submission to a peer reviewed journal.

FOSSIL HERITAGE ACTIVITIES: MPRI acquired 48 specimens of research significance, including 45 received as gifts from donors. We also received gifts of specimens for use in the classroom. MPRI has active research projects with scientists in USA, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic and Poland. MPRI deposits Fossil Heritage specimens into museum collections for research, education, and public display. Forty-nine specimens were donated to the permanent collections of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. The YPM was selected because it is a magnet for scientists working on related materials and because the YPM catalog can be searched on the internet.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2010

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE – Connecting with fossils: A talk given in January 2010 at the Oak Bluffs Public Library, in March 2010 at the Vineyard Haven Public Library, and in June 2010 at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a 2009 grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE – The Noble Horseshoe Crab: A talk given in August 2010 at the West Tisbury Public Library. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a 2008 grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

CHILDREN’S PROGRAM – all about starfish: A free event at the Edgartown Public Library, July 2010; with help from ecologist Wendy Culbert; with live starfish and brittlestars thanks to the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group; and with teaching materials funded in part by a grant from The Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard.

PUBLIC POSTER TALK – Observations on Onychaster: A poster talk on this fossil brittle-star, in collaboration with Dr. Alexander Glass, presented at the October 2010 7th European Conference on Echinoderms, at the University of Göttingen, Germany. In 2011 the poster will be presented at a public forum in Denver, Colorado. This research was supported in part by a Western Interior Paleontological Society 2008 Karl Hirsch Memorial Research Grant.

FREE PUBLIC CONCERT – Reflections of Shakespeare: A Concert of Music, Poetry & Dance, by Row Twelve Chamber Music Ensemble, October 16, 2010. A gift from Row Twelve to the Island community, and supported in part by the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and by MPRI in memory of Robert Hanson. Piano provided by Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society. Piano Preparation and Tuning by David Stanwood. Chilmark Community Center provided by the Chilmark Board of Selectmen. Audiovisual assistance by Jack Wildauer, PROTEKmv. For MPRI this event is part of the theme of linkages between performing arts and the sciences.

FOSSILS IN THE CLASSROOM – Dr. Hotchkiss engaged students with “fossils in the classroom” and with “pebble histories” in the 7th grade science classes at the Oak Bluffs Middle School in February 2010. “Fossil Fred” engaged young people with fossils “from the quarry to the classroom” at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary and at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in July and August 2010. MPRI received a 2009 grant for Fossils in the Classroom from the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard.

2010 Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Science Fair – MPRI sponsors a $50 award for the best marine or coastal science project. Awarded to Taylor McNeely for a project titled “Decomposition in relation to permineralization”

ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2009

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE – The Noble Horseshoe Crab: A talk given in January 2009 at the Vineyard Haven Public Library; in April 2009 at the Tuesday Conversations Group at Howes House, West Tisbury; in August 2009 at the West Tisbury Public Library. Also in 2009 as INVITED SPEAKER at the Inglese Dinamico on Martha's Vineyard and the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE – Starfish and the number five: A talk given in March 2009 at the Oak Bluffs Public Library; in July 2009 at the West Tisbury Library; and in August 2009 at Featherstone Center for the Arts. Also in 2009 as INVITED SPEAKER at the Inglese Dinamico on Martha's Vineyard. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE – Connecting with fossils: A talk given in December 2009 at the Chilmark Free Public Library. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a 2009 grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

PUBLIC POSTER TALK– Pattern formation in starfish: arm stumps, regeneration models and evolution: A poster talk that presented at the March 2009 14th Annual Cape Cod Natural History Conference, at Cape Cod Community College, which is a public venue conference that draws audience from the Cape and Islands and beyond. The poster traveled also to a scientific conference in Tasmania and to a public forum in Denver, colorado. Two MVRHS ART DEPARTMENT INDEPENDENT STUDY STUDENTS used their photography and computer graphic skills to create figures/illustrations for a published version of this presentation (in press). This MPRI poster talk was funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

FREE PUBLIC CONCERT— MPRI presented a free public event, 3 October 2009: Drops in the Stream – A Concert of Music, Poetry & Dance by Row Twelve Chamber Music Ensemble. At the Chilmark Community Center. A gift from Row Twelve to the Island community. Piano provided by Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society. Piano Preparation and Tuning by David Stanwood. Concert supported in part by MPRI in memory of Robert Hanson. Chilmark Community Center provided by the Chilmark Board of Selectmen. Audiovisual assistance by Jack Wildauer, PROTEKmv. This concert is part of the MPRI theme of public participation and of linkages between performing arts and the sciences. We presented this cultural event as a gift to the people of Martha’s Vineyard at a time of year when the pace had calmed somewhat after the frenetic summer. The free event was attended by about one hundred persons; the population segment included everyone, including families with young children, students from the high school arts department, and persons of all ages.

FOSSILS IN THE CLASSROOM -- I acknowledge prior year’s MVCC grant support for creating explanatory posters of fossils for use in lectures (another MVRHS student independent study project); I used these posters in 2009 with students at Felix Neck, Oak Bluffs 7th graders, Tisbury 1st graders, Inglese Dinamico. MPRI received a 2009 grant for Fossils in the Classroom from the Permanent Endowment Fund.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS in 2008

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

PUBLIC LECTURE – The Noble Horseshoe Crab: A talk scheduled to be given October 15th 2008 at the Chilmark Free Public Library, and December 11th at the Oak Bluffs Public Library. It is planned to offer to present this talk at least once more in 2008. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

PUBLIC LECTURE – Starfish and the number five: A talk given in January 2008 for the Tuesday Conversations Group at Howes House, West Tisbury; in March 2008 at the Vineyard Haven Public Library as part of their Tuesday evening lecture series; and in July 2008 as INVITED SPEAKER at the Inglese Dinamico on Martha's Vineyard. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

PUBLIC LECTURE – Starfish symmetry oddities: A talk given in March 2008 at the 13th Annual Cape Cod Natural History Conference, at Cape Cod Community College. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

PUBLIC POSTER TALK– Pattern formation in starfish: arm stumps, regeneration models and evolution: A poster talk that I will present at the March 2009 14th Annual Cape Cod Natural History Conference, at Cape Cod Community College, which is a public venue conference that draws audience from the Cape and Islands and beyond. I will also present it on the Vineyard. A version of this poster talk was presented at a Florida conference and will be presented again at a workshop in Vienna. Two MVRHS ART DEPARTMENT INDEPENDENT STUDY STUDENTS who are seniors are using their photography and computer graphic skills to create figures/illustrations for a published version of this presentation. This MPRI poster talk was funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

I acknowledge prior year’s MVCC grant support for EXPLANATORY POSTERS of fossils (another MVRHS student independent study project) and used these posters in 2008 with students at Felix Neck, Oak Bluffs, Inglese Dinamico, and at MPRI.

Approximately 250 people served in 2008 Lecture attendance on MV, 5 lectures, [5x~13] = 65 people; Oak Bluffs 7th grade, 2 classes [2x~15] = 30; MVRHS art student projects = 2; Felix Neck campers ages 5-13, 9 groups [9x~7] = 63; Inglese Dinamico = 6; children/parents/grandparents at MPRI = ~10; lecture attendance at Cape Cod Natural History Conference = ~75. TOTAL = ~ 251

November and December 2007

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

September and October 2007

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

The Fossil Heritage Program acquired a Stenaster salteri that is exceptional for having a structure that may be an anal cone and other unusual features; a Ceratocystis, Stromatocystites and Etectenocystis (Cambrian, Bohemia); a multirayed Heliaster microbrachius (Pliocene, Florida); an unusual Asteriacites (Ordovician, KY); a Protaster stellifer (Silurian, Thorold, Ontario); and a Promopalaeaster (Ordovician, Quebec City).

The Education Program acquired a DVD movie on the effect of the Crown of Thorns Starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, and portable speakers for playing the DVD from the computer A/V out. Doug McAvoy donated 4.5 kg of beautiful fossils for our educational program (Ordovician, Ontario). Amy Sklar donated for education and research two six-rayed Pisaster specimens, a starfish that normally is five-rayed. Acquired for teaching materials a specimen of the enigmatic Conularia trentonensis, probably related to jellyfish (Ordovician, Ontario); a preCambrian stromatolite Hadrophycus (Medicine Bow Mountains, WY) and an Eocene stromatolite Chlorellopsis (Green River, WY). At this point we probably have a threshold quantity and variety of stromatolites sufficient for a student to do an independent study. Acquired a portable display case to use at a Charter School classroom event next month.

The Research Program acquired technical literature in support of on-going projects: book “Exceptional fossil preservation”; monograph “Indo-Pacifische Euryale”; book “Trace fossil analysis”; and monograph “The Pitkin Limestone of Northern Arkansas”. An international collaborative research project reaches completion as the a manuscript on the fossil brittle star Eospondylus is in now print in the Czech Republic. Started a new collaboration with Prof. Dan Blake, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, on the Ordovician trace fossil Asteriacites specimen from Kentucky. Designed and assembled a trial model of parts of the starfish skeleton to investigate flexibility constraints.

Other activities of the Director included writing and submitting grant proposals for a 2008 public lecture and for developing a high school science lesson/project on animal mechanics. Wrote a draft manuscript on helicoplacoid morphogenesis. Completed a collegial review of a research paper for Prof. Dan Blake.

July and August 2007

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

Developed a public lecture titled “Starfish and the number five”. This MPRI lecture was funded in part by a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The talk was presented 21 August at the Featherstone Center for the Arts as part of their Tuesday evening lecture series. As part of the presentation we brought a display of starfish specimens and of fossils, as well as the posters of fossils created by MVRHS honors student senior Sagitta Woodman.

Acquired for the fossil heritage program an exceptional specimen of the brittle star Bundenbachia beneckei (Devonian, Germany); an unidentified Ordovician starfish from Swatara Gap, PA; a specimen of Salteraster huxleyi (Ordovician, Brechin, Ontario); and the edrioasteroid Stromatocystites pentangularis (Cambrian, Bohemia). Acquired for teaching materials a fossil jelly fish (Cambrian, WI); brachiopods, gastropods and a sponge (Ordovician, MN); a preCambrian stromatolite slab (Torgo, Russia); and Permian Glossopteris leaves from Australia that are part of the evidence of continental drift. Acquired technical literature in support of on-going research projects; and acquired a projector and wireless control for giving public lectures.

May and June 2007

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

The Fossil Heritage Program benefited from the generous donation by Steven Wagner of a fine specimen of Aganaster gregarius (Mississippian, Crawfordsville, IN); and Wolfgang Stadler donated two fine specimens of the trace fossil Asteriacites (Jurassic, Germany). The fossil heritage program also acquired by purchase a specimen of Asteriacites (Jurassic, Germany), and an undescribed species of brittle star (Mississippian, Crawfordsville, IN).

The Education Program benefited from the generous donation by Doug McAvoy of exceptional specimens of bryozoan colonies with embedded underfossils that show the early attachment of the colony to shells on the sea floor (Ordovician, Canada); from Marcus J. Martin a pyritized nautiloid cephalopod (Ordovician, NY); and from David Rudkin a box of fossils from the Devonian Arkona Shale (Thedford, Ontario) together with copies of papers to use in identifying Ordovician fossils from Canada. The Educational Program acquired for teaching and demonstration: a one-foot long fragment of a massive Ordovician nautiloid cephalopod (a predator on trilobites); also trilobites and a strange extinct echinoderm Pleurocystites (both Ordovician, Ontario). We also purchased publications for the Education Program to use in identifying Ordovician fossils from Canada, and a geoscience guide to the Burgess Shale.

MPRI uses education and science as a means to be an ambassador for international cooperation and understanding, by encouraging communication and research among scientists of different countries. In June we donated and sent to the Museo de Zoologia, University of Costa Rica, twenty-nine scientific books, monographs and reprints concerning Echinodermata from the MPRI technical library. The donation was offered and accepted through correspondence with Dr. Monika Springer, Director of the Museo de Zoologia, Escuela de Biologia, Universidad de Costa Rica, Ciudad Universitaria “Rodrigo Facio”, San José, Costa Rica. Graduate student Juan José Alvarado does research on echinoderms and is in charge of the Echinoderm collections of the Museo. We know Juan José from his scientific work and in person at scientific conferences. The shipping and delivery of the packages to the Museo was totally facilitated by Dr. John C. Ickis, Profesor de Administración de Empresas, INCAE Business School.

MVRHS honors student senior Sagitta Woodman did a spring term independent study photographing fossils through the microscope. Posters created from this project were used as visual aids at the June Fossil Mania event. Funded in part by a grant from the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council.

Other activities of the Director included extensive research and communication with Dr. Valerie Morris in Australia; and reviewing/refereeing a manuscript for the editors of a conference proceedings.

March and April 2007

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

Thanks to your support this was an active period with the following activities: co-presenter and participant in Fossil Mania, a collaboration between the Audubon Society's Felix Neck Sanctuary on Martha's Vineyard and MPRI, at Felix Neck; represented at the Western Interior Paleontological Society Founders Symposium "Inscribed in Stone: Evolution and the Fossil Record", at the Colorado School of Mines, with the display of our research poster on a fossil sea star: Bdellacoma in the Hunsrück Slate (Lower Devonian, Germany); invited speaker for the Conversations group at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center; and classroom presentations on Plate Tectonics, scientific method and fossils at two seventh grade science classes in Oak Bluffs.

The Fossil Heritage Program benefited from receipt of generous donations of important fossils: Dan L. Cooper donated a rare fossil brittle star (Protaster stellifer) of Silurian Age from Middleport, NY., and Wolfgang Stadler donated a fine trace fossil Asteriacites (Jurassic, Germany). The fossil heritage program also acquired by purchase a specimen of Protaster stellifer (Silurian, Middleport, NY); a specimen of Aganaster gregarius (Mississippian, Crawfordsville, IN); a specimen of Asteriacites (Ordovician, Brechin, Ontario); a specimen of Hudsonaster (Ordovician, Brechin, Ontario); and a specimen of Henricia (Eocene, California).

The Education Program benefited from the generous donation of exceptional specimens of bivalves, gastropods and brachiopods, and a slab of fossilized sea floor, all thanks to Doug McAvoy; and from Anthony Jones a beautiful Ordovician trilobite from Ohio and a slab with polished sectioned nautiloid cephalopods from Morocco. The Educational Program acquired for teaching and demonstration specimens of: corals, brachiopods, bivalves and gastropods from the Ordovician of MN; trilobites from the Cambrian of the Czech Republic and the Ordovician of Canada; and a specimen of the enigmatic preCambrian fossil Nemiana from Mogilov, Ukrane. We also purchased publications for the Education Program to use in identifying fossils. These included papers on Ordovician bivalves, on the fossils of Vermont; of the Manitoulin area (Canada); of Indiana; and of Minnesota. Also a very useful book on the sea shells on Martha’s Vineyard.

Other activities of the Director included serving on the masters thesis committee for graduate student René Lewis, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC, and participating (both FH and AH) in a workshop course on Outcome Measurement organized by the Cape Cod Foundation, the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative, and the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.

January and February 2007

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These gifts of funds, books and specimens support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

Diane Granville and Ira B. Perelle kindly responded to our Make It Happen book list and sent us The History of Life (fourth edition), by Richard Cowen (2005) and The Devonian rocks of southeastern Michigan and northwestern Ohio, by G.M. Ehlers, E.C. Stumm & R.V. Kesling (1951). Henry W. Hotchkiss donated an attractive fossil sand dollar from California (Scutellaster interlineatus), and Douglas McAvoy donated for our classroom projects a full box (17 pounds) of Ordovician fossils that he personally collected from the James Dick Quarry, Gamebridge, Ontario, together with a very large and remarkable slab of crinoid columns that kids have loved to touch. All of these specimens are ideal for touching and holding by young people and for learning about fossils and ancient sea life. Thank you for these generous donations of books and specimens that directly help our programs.

The fossil heritage program acquired a rare specimen of the trace fossil Asteriacites (Bangor Limestone, Colbert County, Alabama). Asteriacites is a star-shaped sedimentary structure produced by the digging activity of a sea star. The program donated to the Yale University Peabody Museum specimens of a limestone coquina from California that is composed entirely of brittle stars (Ophiocrossota, Eocene age, YPM 220618-26).

MPRI has established a relation with the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), and we are providing an independent study opportunity for an honor roll student. Sagitta Woodman will be doing a project photographing the McAvoy fossils using the MPRI camera and microscope setup. The images will be used to create teaching aids for the classroom and perhaps identification aids for hobbyists. We acquired for teaching purposes a specimen of the Ordovician crinoid Carabocrinus (Ontario, Canada).

Other activities of the Director included writing two proposals for educational programs, reviewing a manuscript for Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, and participating (both FH and AH) as judges in the MVRHS Science Fair.

November and December 2006

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

We acquired a Devonian ophiuroid that appears to be the first record of the genus Argentinaster in Bolivia. We acquired an incomplete but informative piece of arm of an Ordovician sea star from Ontario, Canada, and we were given a beautifully symmetrical four-rayed sea star Stenaster obtusus from the same locality, with thanks to the collector Doug McAvoy. And we were given a sample of limestone that is composed entirely of articulated brittlestar arms and disks, to which the name ‘ophiuroid coquina’ can be applied, from the Santa Margarita Formation, Miocene, California.

In November Dr. Hotchkiss and his wife Anita self-funded a trip to Israel with the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center. “The trip was excellent and inspiring on many levels. We added a scientific component by staying an extra week. We met with Prof. Emeritus Francis Dov Por and Prof. Joseph Heller at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Por had just organized and conducted a “Workshop on the High Biodiversity of the Gulf of Aqaba (Eilat): Origins, Dimensions and Protection” under the auspices of the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University, held in October. Hopefully there will be a workshop proceedings publication, but in the meanwhile I was fortunate to be given the book of abstracts. The tectonic and climatic situation of the Gulf of Aqaba is very similar to the situation in Nova Scotia in the Carboniferous, and so the information from this workshop will be very helpful in an on-going collaboration on Canadian fossils with Dr. Peter von Bitter at the Royal Ontario Museum. Prof. Joseph Heller explained some of his fascinating work on land snails and their historic signatures. Some, for example, were brought to the area by European crusaders. All of them are very sensitive to microclimate and so the differences in distribution of fossil and subfossil specimens compared to the present can indicate changed climates. At Eilat we were treated royally by Dr. Jacob Dafni, an internationally known marine biologist, but in point of fact a renaissance man and respected advocate for the environment both on land and in the sea at Eilat. He drove and walked us into the deserts and mountains along the border with Egypt, took us snorkeling in the coral reef preserve, and took us to his home for a delicious traditional Yemeni meal. He arranged for us to meet the director of The Inter University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, Dr. Dan Tchernov, who gave us a personal tour and presentation, and there we met also (a great honor for me) Dr. Yair Achutov whom I knew from his research on the life cycles of the sea star Asterina burtoni. Dr. Dafni gave us a personal guided tour through the “Coral World” underwater observatory and arranged a private tour of the Japanese-owned NBT mariculture project of Dunaliella algae in Eilat. The algae is perhaps the richest known biological source of the beta carotene that is used in health foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. It is grown in extreme high salinity, strong sunlight and the elevated temperatures of the climate. The algae is harvested by centrifugation and dehydrated into a dry powder that is exported to Japan where it is formed into tablets. On our last day in Eilat we visited the Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research National Center for Mariculture. We were hosted by Dr. Muki Shpigal, senior scientist and marine biologist in charge of Integrated Systems Shellfish Culture. This project is designed to couple the upstream processes of fish farming with downstream processes of using the unused and waste nutrients to grow a seaweed such as Ulva and to use the harvested Ulva to grow a crop of abalone or of sea urchin roe. The process efficiently uses up the dissolved nitrates so that the end-process water can either be released to the sea or can be put back into the fish farm pools. It should be emphasized that there is a great concern to develop methods of mariculture that will not have an adverse effect on the coral reefs of the Gulf of Aqaba. All of these visits and kindnesses illustrate the significance of personal contact between scientists of different countries in expanding not just science but also humanity. Science is recognized as a fruitful forum for developing working relations between countries by starting with the good working relations that scientists develop in collaborative research. I learned that there are plans for joint mariculture projects and joint oceanographic and marine biological projects that involve scientists from Israel, Jordon, Egypt and other nations. Some of the projects are on-going and some are in various stages of proposal. Supporting communication and research among scientists of different countries can obviously be good diplomacy. We had a wonderful experience representing MPRI during our visit.”

The update on the community-oriented project titled “Ancient sea life: exhibit and lecture” is that we were gently turned down by the Farm Neck Foundation, but received partial funding from the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council. We will continue to seek other possible sources of funding, and in any case go forward with a scaled-down project. Doug McAvoy, goldsmith, jeweler and fossil collector in Commanda, Ontario, has offered to send as a gift a significant quantity of Ordovician fossils from Canada to use in this educational project, if we will pay the postage, which we will gladly do.

September and October 2006

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

We acquired two specimens of the rare German Devonian sea star Protasteracanthion primus. We are not aware of any specimens of this sea star in North American museum collections up to this time. A principal activity with a deadline has been completing the research paper for the Proceedings of the 12th IEC, which is now submitted. On the citizen-scientists front, MPRI was privileged to be informed by Ken Karns and Robert Schacht of the first find of a brittlestar in the Waldron Shale (Silurian, Indiana).

Another principal activity with deadlines has been to write grant proposals. We submitted complementary proposals to the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council and the Farm Neck Foundation for a community-oriented project titled Ancient sea life: exhibit and lecture. The project is to develop an exhibit and interpretive lecture on ancient marine life and to engage Island people of all ages in learning about fossils, marine science and paleobiology. This project integrates scientific research with the mission of engaging the public and getting young people interested in these sciences, and the mission of preserving our fossil heritage. Funds are needed for scientific specimens, a display cabinet, photography, and lecture development. As specimens are acquired/received, the fossils on display will change and the exhibit will not be static. After exhibition and research the fossil specimens are deposited into the permanent collection of a museum such as the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. The exhibit and interpretive lecture will be given at schools, libraries and other venues throughout the year. The project benefit is a learning and cultural opportunity for the community of Martha’s Vineyard Island. The project will be carried out by Dr. Hotchkiss.

Other activities included attending a grant-writing workshop and attending a scientific meeting. The workshop was sponsored by The Cape Cod Foundation in collaboration with the Martha’s Vineyard Donor’s Collaborative and with support from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.

The scientific meeting was the Developmental Biology of the Sea Urchin XVII meeting (DBSUXVII), 27-30 September, at the Marine Biological Laboratories, Woods Hole. This meeting presented important results just obtained from the sequencing project for the sea urchin genome. The speakers were adding data from experiments just finished in the last week, or the last days, or even from “last night”. The information being extracted from the genome project is revolutionizing almost every aspect of biology – developmental and physiological, for every cell type and function – and the key leaders in these developments were the presenters at this meeting.

July and August 2006

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

We acquired one Promopalaeaster and one Hudsonaster specimen, both from the Waynesville Formation, Upper Ordovician, Warren County, Ohio, from the collector Tom Johnson. MPRI received as a gift six specimens of the sea star Bdellacoma verruculosa. These six, plus three specimens purchased by MPRI, were used in the research for the poster presentation by A. Glass and F. Hotchkiss titled “Bdellacoma in the Hunsrück Slate (Lower Devonian, Germany): reidentification of Urasterella verruculosa (Asteroidea, Bdellacomidae). MPRI supporter, neighbor and artist Diane Nicholls donated her services to design the poster in electronic format for printing by The Tisbury Printer. The poster was presented at the 12th International Echinoderms Conference (IEC) at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, in August. The manuscript for the proceedings is due 30 October, and writing it is/will be our principal activity until completion (submitted 19 October). The manuscript was assigned MPRI contribution number 2. MPRI has donated to the permanent collection of the Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History (YPM) all nine specimens of Bd. verruculosa and these have catalogued into the YPM collection.

The 12th IEC was a great scientific meeting. One highlight was a session on the recently sequenced genome of the echinoid Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, the first complete genome sequencing of any echinoderm. In all of the sessions it was great to see the next generation of scientists making their debut presentations. The international representation was excellent. MPRI used the opportunity to be an ambassador for international cooperation in science by making two presentations “to encourage communication and research among scientists of different countries”, the first to Dr. Yoshiaki Ishida, Chitosegaoka Senior High School, Tokyo, Japan, and the second to Dr. Christina Franzen, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden.

MPRI purchased from Eric Prokopi some additional, larger pieces of the Baja California fossil brittlestar bed for the thesis research of graduate student René Lewis . Eric was the discoverer of this extraordinary brittlestar bed. René wrote us about her fieldwork as follows: “The trip to Baja was quite successful. We managed to find about 15 additional pieces of the ophiuroid bed. It took us quite some time to actually find the canyon it was located in and then it was just a fluke that we found it. We searched for 4 days before running across a small piece, about the size of a quarter, and knew we were in the right canyon. The terrain was dangerous as the sand is so fine and the slope talus decreased in size as you went higher. We were never able to put our fingers on the bed itself however as the slope was too steep. I've attached a picture of the area. Also, I took lithologic samples and will be looking at the forams and basic lithology. Lastly, I have done some primary taxonomic work and believe these ophiuroids belong to the Family Ophiothricidae. I will keep you posted as I go further. The town of Santa Rosalia was wonderful. Although it was very rustic, the people were some of the friendliest I'd ever met and so willing to help. Many stopped by where we were working and brought us fossils and offers of assistance in case we were broken down. If you ever get the opportunity I would highly recommend a visit.”

Civic-minded private collectors of fossils are fully aware of the scientific contributions that they can make as they do their collecting. Such is the case with Michael and John Topor for whom the multiarmed Devonian sea star Arkonaster topororum is named. We are privileged to have their confidence and to receive information on their extraordinary finds. From this correspondence we were able to tell them that they have discovered an undescribed new species of the brittlestar Eospondylus in the Devonian Arkona shale. Description will have to be deferred until some existing projects are completed or a research grant obtained.

Other activities included writing to collection managers to inform them of published mention of fossils in our research (with thanks to Dr. Andy Gale in London for forwarding some of these letters), and the return of loaned specimens. We gratefully acknowledge Glen R. Osburn, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, for the loan of specimens. The Washington University Paleontological Collections include extensive material of fossil sea stars that is a great resource for research. Added the Los Angeles County Museum to the paleoinformatics links on our website. Locally we have started to make contacts with scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service in Woods Hole.

May and June 2006

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

Acquired slices of a fossil brittlestar bed from the Santa Margarita Formation of Miocene Age from Arroyo Grande Canyon, San Louis Obispo County, California. This several-inches-thick bed is a fused mass of intact brittlestars and is interesting for the questions it raises about how this mass of brttlestars lived and died. Graduate student René Lewis is studying similar fossils donated for her thesis study by MPRI. René informed us that she and Dr. Patricia Kelley are heading to Baja California, Mexico, to locate the fossil bed and make field observations on the occurrence. Acquired a specimen of the uncommon sea star Calyptactis confragosis from the “crinoid beds” of Crawfordsville, Indiana. Acquired three specimens of the German Devonian sea star Urasterella verruculosa for use in an MPRI collaborative research project (Alexander Glass and F.H.C. Hotchkiss) which will be presented in August at the 12th International Echinoderms Conference, University of New Hampshire, Durham. The abstract has been submitted and Dr. Hotchkiss has registered to attend the conference.

A major effort has been to research the methods and equipment needed to take photographs through the optics of a WILD M8 zoom stereomicroscope. MPRI acquired a trinocular adapter for the microscope, a Canon S3 IS digital camera with 12X optical zoom, and adapter pieces designed by the Martin Microscope Co., Easley, SC. Thanks to the on-site assistance of Jason Clain and Alexander Kisselgof we now have the camera, microscope, laptop computer and video-monitor properly connected together for the purpose of taking photographs through the microscope. These images are needed for the research presentation in August.

In support of research we borrowed a specimen of the German Devonian fossil Eospondylus from the Cincinnati Museum Center, and we gratefully acknowledge this loan. In support of the MPRI mission we acquired the publication Fossils and the Future: paleontology in the 21st century. This publication will help us align our activities with the priorities and concepts identified by this working group on the future of paleontology. The use of the internet and paleoinformatics is an important future direction of paleontology where MPRI can contribute. MPRI received as a gift a copy of the publication Schatzkammer Dachschiefer from Peter and Krista Hohenstein [Lautertal, Germany; bundenbachfossilien.de]. This publication has excellent photographs of Hunsrück Slate fossils. Other activities included reviewing a manuscript for the editor of Acta Paleontologia Polonica and sending reprints and corresponding with scientists in Argentina, England, Scotland, and USA. Accepted invitation to serve as Project Partner, and wrote a letter of support, for a grant application to the Natural Environment Research Council [UK]. Updated the Bibliography on Paleozoic Asterozoa on the MPRI website.

MPRI is now listed on the Martha’s Vineyard Donor’s Collaborative website, and MPRI was given a special Martha’s Vineyard car license plate with tag number 033 to auction for fundraising. These special tags will be issued by the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles as soon as 3000 of them are pre-sold. Please contact Dr. Hotchkiss if you have a car registered in Massachusetts and would like to bid on this low tag number for the benefit of MPRI.

March and April 2006

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds support the preservation of our fossil heritage, education, research, public involvement, and necessary operating expenses.

In support of research we acquired a special publication Research on Echinoderms in Latin America (Revista de Biologia Tropical vol. 53, supl. 3, December 2005). Attended a workshop on the topic Boards of Directors of nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. The workshop was put on by the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative, and was very informative and useful. Participated in judging at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Science Fair. It was very uplifting to see the enthusiasm and out-of-the box thinking of fresh young minds as they tackled their projects. Reviewed for the editor a manuscript submitted for possible publication in Scripta Geologica. Completed the research manuscript on Eospondylus and sent it to the coauthors for their input and finishing touches. The manuscript is based on materials in the Narodni Museum, Prague, and will be submitted to the house journal Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae. The manuscript was assigned MPRI contribution number 1. Visited the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, Invertebrate Paleontology Collection Manager Susan Butts. The purpose of the visit was to examine specimens, to discuss the MPRI world fossil heritage project, to discuss donating specimens to YPM for their permanent collections, and to discuss paleoinformatics and the YPM on-line collection database. The YPM collections are a magnet for scientists working of Paleozoic stelleroids. Following this visit, wrote a letter on behalf of MPRI to offer as a donation to the Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History (YPM) invertebrate paleontology collections specimen MPRI 0003. It is a small slab of Hunsrück Slate that is crowded with a mass occurrence of small specimens of the ophiuroid Encrinaster roemeri. The scientific and historical interest of this slab is described on our web site. To most fully accomplish our mission, we asked that the specimen be added into their electronic catalog that can be searched at the YPM web site. We asked also that acknowledgement of donation by MPRI be kept with the specimen by any method that they choose. The offer was accepted and the slab will be sent (sent 5/4/2006).

January and February 2006

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds allowed the acquisition of a significant fossil and supported necessary operating expenses. We acquired an additional specimen of a very small Devonian brittle star from Velbert, Germany. The site, which is no longer available for collecting, was described by Thomas (1979) and by Haude & Thomas (1983) and included new species and new points of morphology in previously described species. We hope to acquire sufficient Velbert material for research (so far we have acquired eight specimens). A major accomplishment and improvement in the operations of MPRI was to put the accounting/bookkeeping into QuickBooks Pro, with thanks to Alison Kisselgof. This greatly facilitated our end of year accounting for state and federal filings. On the research and communication front, continued working on Eospondylus manuscript and figures, and sent scientific papers on fossil echinoids to Dr. Andrzej Radwanski, Department of Geology, Warsaw University.

Dr. John Dearborn was named a Fellow of MPRI, and Mr. Vaclav Petr was named a Research Associate of MPRI at the January Meeting of the Board of Directors. Dr. Dearborn is Professor Emeritus, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine. He is well known for his marine biological research on Antarctic Ocean and Gulf of Maine ecosystems and echinoderms. We recognize his leadership role in the scientific and aducational community, his legacy of students, and his interest and support of MPRI. Vaclav Petr is an independent paleontologist, philosopher, artist and author. He and his colleague Dr. Rudolf Prokop and MPRI scientist and director Dr. Hotchkiss are involved in collaborative research on Devonian microfossils from the Czech Republic, since 1992 and continuing, resulting in several publications and with much more still to do. It is a pleasure, and it is significant to the Institute to honor these scientists.

November and December 2005

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds allowed the acquisition of significant fossils and supported necessary operating expenses. The acquisitions included four specimens of the large and rare Ordovician sea star Bohemura from the Czech Republic. These specimens were featured on the “make it happen” section of our website, and the funds to make it happen were generously donated by Dan and Anne Pruzan. We acquired four very small Devonian brittle stars collected in 1978 from a temporary highway excavation in Velbert, Germany. We would like to acquire more Velbert material for comparison with North American fossils. And we acquired an extremely rare starfish of Mississippian age (Early Carboniferous) from the famous Crawfordsville, Indiana, locality. This specimen was collected and prepared by Tom Witherspoon, and is unusual in that it is shaped like a brittle star, yet it is almost certainly a starfish in its structure.

This was a busy time for scientific contacts. Corresponded with scientists in Prague, Poland, Panama, The Netherlands, and USA. Completed collegial review of a manuscript for a scientist in Poland. Benefitted from collegial review by Dr. Steve Donovan of a manuscript. Traveled to Harvard University to meet visiting scientist Dr. Alexander Martynov from the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University. Dr. Martynov is working on Russian deep sea collections of brittle stars (in cooperation with Dr. Nina Litvinova) and came to the USA to study the collection of brittle stars at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, and also at the Smithsonian Institution. The important collaboration with artist-photographer Faith Margolin is ongoing. MPRI submitted a letter of inquiry to a funding organization, which, however, was unsuccessful. Continued research on the collaborative project with R. Prokop and V. Petr in Prague on isolated ossicles of the Devonian ophiuroid Eospondylus.

In December Dr. Hotchkiss represented MPRI on a self-funded trip to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, with his wife Anita. He visited with Dr. David Pawson, Ms. Cynthia Ahearn, Dr. Chris Mah, and Mr. Michael Carpenter. The purpose of the trip was to transport and donate to the Smithsonian Institution a collection of starfish and brittle stars given to Dr. Hotchkiss by the late Prof. H. B. Fell . The collection contains many of the New Zealand and Antarctic materials that were the basis of research publications by H. Barraclough Fell, and also some of his research notes and photographs.

Further development of the MPRI website included registering the website name for the next five years and adding new material to the website. Your support makes these activities possible.

September and October 2005

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds allowed the acquisition of a significant fossil and supported necessary operating expenses. The fossil is a rare specimen of the Ordovician starfish Hudsonaster from a quarry in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. The specimen was collected and prepared by Bill Hessin, Hastings, Ontario. Hudsonaster has a fairly simple structure and it is still under debate as to whether the genus is close to an ancestral type or whether it is a derived and simplified type. The important collaboration with artist-photographer Faith Margolin is ongoing. She was extremely helpful in adjusting her schedule in order to take photographs to document specimens prior to packing them to take to the Narodni Museum in Prague. Also during this time MPRI provided material of a fossil ophiuroid found in Baja California Sur, Mexico, to graduate student René Lewis, Department of Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Wilmington for her master’s thesis research. The material was collected by Mr. Eric Prokopi who donated some specimens to the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville. The MPRI specimens were donated by Dr. Hotchkiss and at the conclusion of her research will be deposited into the permanent collection of an appropriate institution or returned to the Institute. We are delighted to be able to mention that in October 2005 René won the Winifred Goldring Scholarship available through the Association of Women Geoscientists: see http://www.awg.org/news/ where there is a biographical write-up of her. Your support makes these activities possible.

Also in October Dr. Hotchkiss represented MPRI in Prague and in Poland on a self-funded trip with his wife Anita. He visited the University of Silesia in Sosnowiec, the University of Warsaw, the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, the Narodni Museum [National Museum] in Prague, and Charles University in Prague, where he met with paleontologists and was a visiting scientist. The visits were entirely successful. Specimens of the Canadian fossil Stenaster obtusus were presented individually to Dr. R. Prokop, Dr. V. Petr, Dr. A. Boczarowski, Dr. M. Salamon, Dr. A. Pisera, Dr. A. Radwanski and Dr. U. Radwanska by MPRI “to encourage communication and research among scientists of different countries”. These specimens were generously donated for this purpose by the Department of Paleobiology of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, coming from their duplicates collection [with thanks to Dr. P. von Bitter, Mr. D. Rudkin and Ms. J. Waddington]. As part of the objectives of this trip, MPRI donated to the permanent collections of the Paleontology Department of the Narodni Museum, Prague, five specimens of a Devonian ophiuroid from the Hünsruck Slate, Bundenbach, Germany. These specimens have been catalogued into their collection and will be used in a joint research project. At the University of Silesia, Dr. M. Salamon and graduate student M. Zaton took their guests on a field excursion to Wojkowice quarry, north of Katowice, where specimens of the diminutive Triassic brittlestar Aspiduriella similis had been found [described in a scientific paper by Salamon & Zaton in 2004]. Specimens of the brittlestar were found again on that day and brought back to the USA.

The visits also were scientifically rewarding. In Prague Dr. Prokop brought out his extensive collection of Devonian ophiuroid ossicles that have been the subject of joint research [scientific papers by Hotchkiss, Prokop and Petr in 1999]. A paper on isolated ossicles of Eospondylus with a reanalysis of its classification is nearing completion. This visit provided new information on variation. In addition it provided an overview of the entire collection for planning future collaborations. In Sosnowiec Dr. Boczarowski spent a full day showing highlights of his extensive collections of ossicles extracted from Devonian limestones of the Holy Cross Mountains. The delicacy of the objects and their very pristine condition are incredible and are a testament to the special extraction techniques that he has developed. It would take an extended visit to even begin to examine this collection of hundreds of thousands of ossicles, and a return extended visit is hoped for. An objective of the present visit with Dr. Boczarowski was to listen and learn from him concerning how to associate isolated ossicles into species assemblages of ossicles. He was extremely helpful in discussing this complex topic.

July and August 2005

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds allowed the acquisition of fossil specimens of brittlestars of scientific importance and a scientific monograph. The brittlestars are Ophiaulax decheni from Upper Devonian strata near Velbert, Germany. Specimens of this species are rare and are under-represented in institutional collections. The monograph is by Teresa M. Sanchez (Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina) and is a paleoecological study of the Upper Paleozoic of the Andes de Merida in Venezuela (1984). The monograph includes observations on the paleoecology of the brittlestar Archaeophiomusium andinum discovered by Dr. Sanchez during this research. In addition five specimens of Eospondylus primigenius from the Lower Devonian Hunsrück Slate, Bundenbach, Germany were donated by Dr. Hotchkiss. All of these acquisitions support the research theme “Paleozoic ophiuroids of modern aspect.”

The website MPRInstitute.org was a focus of activity, including making additions to the fossil heritage page, updating the list of donors, and adding a "make it happen" page which highlites specific projects for which funding is solicited. A printable and improved donation form was designed by artist and Institute neighbor Diane Nicholls who kindly donated her time on this project to the Institute. Alexander Kiselgof is the architect of the web site and provided a tutorial on how to edit and add text such as this. The MPRInstitute.org website has been discovered by Google and now shows up in key word searches. We are proud of this progress and success. Nevertheless, it remains true that the website is a work-in-progress because the Institute is a dynamic entity.

May and June 2005

Dr. Hotchkiss attended the Taxonomic Workshop on the Identification of Echinoderms from the Atlantic Coast of the Southeastern United States at the Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in Charleston. The instructors were Dr. David L. Pawson and Dr. Stephen Stancyk. In addition to having gained the practical experience of this workshop, it is possible to think that the Institute might organize a similar workshop for echinoderms of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank fishing grounds. The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds allowed the acquisition of four specimens of the large and rare fossil brittlestar Bohemura jahni from the Ordovician of the Czech Republic. A fifth specimen was generously donated by Theo Hensken, Henskens Fossils, Oss, The Netherlands. Specimens like these are no longer being found, and until now there were no specimens in North American institutions. This acquisition preserves an important part of our world fossil heritage and makes specimens available for education, research and museum display.

At the Taxonomic Workshop was a graduate student from the University of North Carolina who is examining possibilities for a Master's Thesis project. The Institute is offering to provide fossils from an undescribed rock layer of fossil brittlestars [Pliocene, Baja California, Mexico]. A decline of fossil brittle star beds after the Paleozoic is attributed to the rise of predators that could eat armored prey during the Mesozoic Marine Revolution. If she takes up this project, the Institute will want to provide assistance for field work to locate and study the rock outcrop in situ.

A major activity and accomplishment in June was the launching of this website. It is a work-in-progress and will be added to. It will be used to communicate with supporters and visitors. We hope as well that visitors will decide to become supporters through this web site.

March and April 2005

The Institute gratefully received significant donations from its supporters: you make it possible. These funds allowed the acquisition of fossil and non-fossils specimens of starfish and brittlestars of scientific importance. One slab from the Ordovician of Ontario has just the arm of a starfish, but the arm is unusually long and indicates a starfish at least ten inches across. Mr. Doug McAvoy, the collector of this isolated arm, donated to MPRI specimens of starfish resting traces called Asteriacites that he found in the same quarry. When animals walked on, or burrowed in, soft bottom deposits, sometimes the tracks or markings were preserved when the sediments turned to stone, and these are called trace fossils. They provide importance evidence of the presence and the activities of animals in the past. MPRI acquired a specimen of the brittlestar Stephanoura belgica from the Upper Devonian of Velbert, Germany. Until now this species has not been represented in North American institutional collections. Dr. Hotchkiss co-authored a paper with Dr. Reimund Haude that discussed similarities between Stephanoura belgica from Belgium and Germany and Aganaster gregarius from Crawfordsville, Indiana. MPRI acquired a small collection of dried starfish that included a specimen with a very rare form of twinning of the starfish ray. Dr. Hotchkiss has written papers on the mechanism of this twinning and its relation to understanding the anatomy and evolution of the number of rays in starfish. MPRI also acquired a small slab with specimens of the Triassic brittlestar Aspiduriella ludeni from Poland. An important collaboration with artist-photographer Faith Margolin was started in March and April. Faith Margolin is an accomplished artist-photographer in Concord, MA: see http://www.photographyatelier.org/atelier02-SITE/FaithM/index_FaithM.html . In conversations I asked if she would be interested in photographing fossils

sunflower sea star

MPRI PRESENTS...



LOOKING FORWARD:
Come celebrate National Fossil Day with MPRI at the Oak Bluffs Public Library -- Thursday, 12 October 2017, from 4pm to 7:45pm. We are thrilled to say that National Fossil Day on Martha’s Vineyard is partially supported by a grants from the Staples Education Foundation and the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Come to a presentation by Fred Hotchkiss titled "Starfish and the number five" -- an Adult and Continuing Education of MV (ACE MV) summer science series lecture, on Tuesday 18 July [time TBD but around 6:30 or 7 pm] at the Stone House of the MV Commission in Oak Bluffs.


Looking back
In October 2016 we celebrated National Fossil Day with MPRI at the Oak Bluffs Public Library. ...a collaboration of MPRI, the OB Library, and the National Park Seevice. Event partially supported by a grants from the Staples Education Foundation and the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


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

WE PRESENTED A PREE PUBLIC LECTURE
Horseshoe Crabs: A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods
AT FOUR LIBRARIES
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.







Our latest newsletter
describes how our supporters further
our mission.

Site Update!

Fossil
Heritage
Collection


Specimens purchased
with the help of our generous donors.

 |  site map |  designed and hosted by ASK.enterprises