OLD BONES - SVP'S BLOG

A Tribute to Paleontology Volunteers


      It’s National Volunteer Week here in Canada, a time to recognize the tens of millions of volunteers who give their time freely to support our various organizations. Here at the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN), we engage roughly 250 volunteers presently, eight of which work in Palaeobiology. I thought I’d take this chance to pay a brief tribute to our volunteers and the many great things they’ve been up to.

      Our longest serving volunteer is Dale Patten, who has been with the CMN for 35 years now. She initially started working with Dr. Dick Harington, cleaning woolly mammoth skulls and other Old Crow locality fossils. More recently, she has been sorting through Late Cretaceous microfossils from the Manitoba Escarpment for Dr. Steve Cumbaa. Her dedicated efforts have even led to the discovery of several new fossil shark species!

      Christiane Cooper and Dale Crichton can often be found happily working alongside each other in our prep lab. Both have volunteered with the CMN in various capacities for about 10 years. They have recently been sorting through material from a Holocene midden site in British Columbia for Dr. Kathy Stewart, and through Late Cretaceous microvertebrate fossils from Alberta for me.


Dale Crichton (left) and Christiane Cooper (right) have a laugh while working together in the CMN prep lab. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Currie.)

      Geoff Rowe and Alex Hamilton have volunteered with the CMN for the last five years. Geoff has sifted through peat samples from Strathcona Fjord on Ellesmere Island, unwrapped dinosaur fossils collected over 100 years ago, and sorted Holocene bowhead whale bones found throughout the Arctic islands. Alex has most recently been using the sandblasting machine to prepare some duck-billed dinosaur vertebrae.


Geoff Rowe unpacks some delicate dinosaur bones, originally collected well over 100 years ago. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Currie.)
              
      Among our most recent volunteers are Alex Milton and Olivia Podlesny, who have each been with the museum for the past year or so. Alex has been busy preparing fossil turtles, and recently began work on a partial horn dinosaur frill that we collected last summer. Olivia has likewise been preparing various turtles and dinosaurs, and consolidating mammoth teeth.
 
      Some of us are lucky enough to have family on board as volunteers. William is the son of our lead preparator, Alan McDonald, and has been diligently puzzling together a small horned dinosaur frill for the last couple of years. My dad, Perry Mallon, has also dedicated the last two years to preparing an ankylosaurid tail club and a fossil turtle.


Perry Mallon (my dad) preps a Late Cretacoeus trionychid turtle from Alberta.
               
      To those palaeontology volunteers here at the CMN, and to everyone else out there who freely give up their time to further the science, I say “THANK YOU!” I can’t imagine how far behind the field would be without you. Besides, it’s much more rewarding to think about all the amazing new things we'll learn with your generous support.

Posted by: Jordan Mallon, Canadian Museum of Nature
Posted: 4/12/2016 3:56:27 PM by mallonjordanadmin | with 0 comments
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