Joint 52nd Northeastern Annual Section / 51st North-Central Annual Section Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 15-5
Presentation Time: 2:50 PM


FERRARA, Chuck, Southwest Florida Fossil Society, 2193 Park Rd., Venice, FL 34293,

Despite recent efforts to improve acknowledgement of amateur paleontologists, their contributions are frequently undervalued. The best method to ensure appropriate recognition for individual fossil collectors, as well as the fossil clubs/societies to which they belong, is to foster a partnership with a museum. One case study, from Florida, illustrates the importance of such partnerships. Through the generosity of its members, the Southwest Florida Fossil Society (SFFS) has developed valuable relationships with museums across the world, from the Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville, Florida, USA) to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (Washington, District of Columbia, USA) to the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). In the Florida Museum invertebrate paleontology collections alone, over 10,000 cataloged specimens have been donated by SFFS members such as William and Lelia Brayfield, Mitchell Hope, Gunther Lobisch, Terry Raymond, and Steve and Roxane Wilson. These donations have included scientifically significant discoveries, like the sun star Heliaster microbrachius and the holotypes of Morum meganae (a type of harp snail) and Petrolisthes myakkensis (a commensal crab found on the above-mentioned sun star). Further, partnerships between the society and various museums have led to numerous publications for audiences in both the academic sphere (e.g., Journal of Crustacean Biology and Journal of Paleontology) and the general public sphere (e.g., A Guide for Identifying Florida Fossil Shells and Other Invertebrates, Third Edition). The examples outlined here highlight the importance of fostering positive relationships between amateurs and professionals, for the benefit of the science of paleontology.