Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


HENDY, Katherine, HENDY, Austin J.W., MACFADDEN, Bruce J. and GRANT, Claudia, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, P.O. Box 117800, Gainesville, FL 32611,

In 2012, in response to the growing volume of fossil material being collected during Panama Canal Project-Partnership in International Research and Education activities, the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) initiated an effort to coordinate curation and digitization activities across its various collection departments. The Fossils of Panama project ( is an outgrowth of this effort, and an outreach and education extension of iDigBio ( The project seeks to not only fully curate these materials to enhance their research accessibility, but also to develop a range of online and physical educational and research resources based on digitized specimens. The project is a test case among major paleontological data providers in the development of digitization workflows and designing of appropriate products for outreach and education. Graduate and undergraduate students, as well as volunteers, have been trained in aspects of biological specimen curation, digital photography and image processing. Professional and amateur paleontologists, teachers, and K-12 students have partaken in focus groups and field trials to guide the development of these resources.

An important goal of the project is to increase accessibility of fossils deposited at the FLMNH to the citizens of the Republic of Panama, for whom these collections represent their natural heritage. In addition to cataloging new collections from Panama, making the FLMNH the largest searchable collection of Panamanian fossils in the world, we have photographed more than 3,000 specimens. These media are being used extensively in the Fossils of Panama website and resources therein. These include digital guides to common fossils in each of the major fossil-bearing rock units in Panama, and field guides and posters that are downloadable from the website. Other components of the website include an annotated list of museums where Panamanian fossils can be studied, and links to useful resources for the study of geology and paleontology in Panama. In addition to the virtual repatriation achieved by putting fossil collections online, all of these resources we are developing are bilingual (español and English) to facilitate their use by audiences in Panama and elsewhere.