Tuesday 18 September 2012

Dust off your fossil types..... the JISC funded GB/3D type fossils online project would like to visit you

The following call has gone out by the Geological Curators' Group to all curators and managers of geological collections across the UK:

The Geological Curators’ Group is a partner in the JISC funded project GB/3D type fossils online (JISC was previously known as the Joint Information Systems Committee, and it runs the JANET computer network to which all .ac.uk domains belong).

Other partners include:
·         British Geological Survey
·         National Museum, Cardiff
·         Oxford University Museum of Natural History
·         Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge
Other collaborating organisations to date include the Natural History Museum, London and a number of local museums.
The ICZN and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants require that every species or subspecies of organism (living & fossil), should have a type or reference specimen to define its characteristic features. These specimens are held in collections around the world and must be available for study. Many of the UK type fossil specimens were first described over a century ago, and with the passage of time and the transfer and amalgamation of collections, their present location is uncertain.                                                                                                                                                                          
The project partners are busy photographing all their UK macro-fossil type specimens, including close-ups and labels. In most cases they are also taking stereo-pairs for anaglyph production. They are laser scanning about 10% of the specimens to produce downloadable digital models. Please see the project blog for the background to the project and for some free downloadable digital models - http://gb3dtypefossils.blogspot.co.uk/ . Next year a web portal will be released, linking all the fossil registration details (including identification, locality, age, registration number, repository, etc.) to the images, stereo-anaglyphs and 3D digital models.

The Geological Curators’ Group is now trying to track down the UK type macro-fossils held in other collections and museums around the country. We would like to visit as many collections as possible with our mobile cameras and laser scanner to photograph and record all the available types, and make them available through the web portal. All the material will be clearly badged with the holding institution’s logo, which will link to contact details and access information, thereby helping to open up the collection for worldwide study. At a time when collections are being increasingly required to justify their existence, this is a good way of raising their profile and demonstrating the international scientific importance of material they hold. All collections will be provided with copies of the photographs and digital models of their material to do with as they wish; the images and models on the web portal will be available for free download under a Creative Commons  – Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike licence.

We would like to hear from any museums and collections interested in joining the project. We also have a budget available to help cover the cost of the collection staff involved (£200 per day, on a first-come first-served basis). Please email me (GB3D-Fossils@bgs.ac.uk ) with information about the types you hold, including the approximate number of specimens, or if you wish to receive further information. Where a collection has just a few types, and they are considered safe to travel, we would ask you to consider loaning the material to BGS for the work to be done in Keyworth.

Please consider joining what is becoming a very exciting development.

Kind regards,

Mike Howe
Project leader & Chairman GCG.

Monday 17 September 2012

Simon Harris joins the project team

The JISC fossil digitisation team at Keyworth has recently welcomed a new member. Simon Harris joins us as a photographer who has specialised in photographing objects in museums and historic houses for several years. 
Simon Harris using one of the project's Canon EOS5D MkII's

Simon commented:

"I have spent a number of years working with varied historic collections across the UK, and have been interested in fossils since my childhood, so the opportunity to work with historically and scientifically significant fossil collections is a very exciting prospect for me."

"I also have training in engineering and object conservation - it's surprising just how often these different disciplines come in handy when working in a museum!"

"The nature of the collection we are working with here means that a lot of the specimens are quite small and we really need to utilise the capabilities of the equipment that we have. For instance, the live view facility on the camera is invaluable for checking focus and depth of field, and we can check the final image for any problems, like camera shake or under exposure, instantly. It was never that easy when we used film!"

We will bring you some fossil photographs in a future blog posting.