DIGITIZATION OF MILLIONS OF MARINE INVERTEBRATE FOSSILS THROUGH THE EASTERN PACIFIC INVERTEBRATE COMMUNITIES OF THE CENOZOIC (EPICC) THEMATIC COLLECTIONS NETWORK (TCN)
These data will enable large-scale analyses and the development of novel research questions, especially of the ecological and evolutionary responses of marine communities to dramatic environmental changes through the Cenozoic, including the Paleocene–Eocene thermal maximum, the greenhouse-icehouse climatic transition at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, the Mid-Miocene climatic optimum, later Miocene contraction of the tropics, expansion of the East Antarctic ice-sheet, onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciation, and the biotic responses to the closing of the Panama Seaway and opening of the Bering Strait.
EPICC’s primary outreach tool is the Virtual Field Experience (VFE), which “transports” teachers, students, and the general public to classic paleontological sites along the modern and ancient eastern Pacific, including the Kettleman Hills of central California and Pleistocene terraces of southern California. VFEs underscore the importance of museum collections, reconnect museum specimens with collection localities, and provide geological context for fossils found there. Rich image data of outcrops and specimens included in each VFE will be available online to the public, and are being used to develop fossil identification resources for educators and avocational paleontologists. Teacher and student guides will facilitate integration into Earth science classroom curricula.
The EPICC TCN is transforming the community involved. Amassing digitization records and the sharing/adopting of best practices and data among our museums’ collections has led to sustainable collaborations among the institutions involved.