by Patrick McShea
As I travelled west from Pittsburgh to meet Carnegie Museum of Natural Hisotry Vertebrate Fossil Collection Manager Amy Henrici for a frog fossil hunting expedition in eastern Nevada, the same question was asked by each of my airplane seat mates.
How do you know where to look for fossils?“
For the sites we planned to visit the answer was simple. Earlier written reports by geologists mapping rock formations and mineral deposits noted the occasion occurrence of fossils in certain rock layers.
Fossil searches involved locating and visiting sites where such rock layers are exposed on the surface, and then examining fragments that have eroded from these outcrops.The full process, which might stretch over decades, is an example of how published findings allow one branch of science to serve another.
As a geologist friend takes great pleasure in explaining, “Geologists let paleontologist know where fossils are in the multitude rock layers of Earth’s history, in time and in place.”
Patrick McShea is a museum educator who is traveling through Nevada with Vertebrate Paleontology Collections Manager Amy Henrici to search for frog fossils. He frequently blogs about his experiences.