Cataloguing Fossils at UI

Nov 27, 2015

Plant fossils at the Palenteology Depository at the University of Iowa are getting a new home and a new reorganization so they can be more useful to researchers around the world. 

Collections manager Tiffany Adrain says more than 20,000 specimens collected over the last ten years will be catalogued for the first time.  

They’re also being rehoused in a safer environment.

“Even though these fossils are rock, they're still subject to differences in temperature and relative humidity in the environment,” Adrain says.  “So when there's too much moisture in the air they start to decay and break up.”

Ten students are doing the work and Adrain says they’re getting good experience handling and cataloging collections.  

Adrain says the fossils will now be much more accessible.

“Up until now most of the collection isn't well-known to researchers,” Adrain says.  “Even I don't know what's in the collection myself so I can't tell researchers what might be useful to their work.”

Adrain says the fossils come primarily from coal mines, including Iowa coal mines.  

Money for the project comes from a National Science Foundation grant.