Paper No. 12-8
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM
THE FOSSIL PROJECT AND CITIZEN SCIENCE: EARLY MIOCENE LAND MAMMALS FROM BELGRADE, NORTH CAROLINA
The FOSSIL project is developing a social learning network of amateur and professional paleontologists throughout the U.S. that now has reached more than 5,000 participants via the myFOSSIL web site, Facebook, and Twitter. As one of our initiatives, the FOSSIL project engages amateurs who have fossil collections of land mammals from the previously-unpublished early Miocene Belgrade Quarry in Onslow County, North Carolina. Earlier, individual specimens from private collections were donated or casts were made that are now housed at the Smithsonian Institution. A few relevant specimens are also housed in the Florida Museum collection. More recently, several fossils were borrowed, scanned to generate hi-resolution 3D images, returned to the owners, and then archived in the myFOSSIL 3D gallery. Early Miocene land mammals are exceedingly rare in the eastern United States; they are best known from ca. 18 Ma Hemingfordian sites in Florida and Delaware. Although limited, the land mammal taxa recovered so far from Belgrade include a rodent, entelodont (Daeodon), anthracothere, small selenodont artiodactyl (?protoceratid), peccary, horse (cf. Archaeohippus), and rhinoceros. Taken together, the age of the Belgrade assemblage is likely late Arikareean (Ar4), ca. 20 Ma (early Miocene), and therefore is almost unique for this NALMA (North American Land Mammal Age) in the eastern U.S. The research results described here are a case study of citizen science. This project would not have been possible without the collaboration of amateurs and professionals, and enabled by technology - including cybercommunication via myFOSSIL and hi-resolution 3D scanning.