Wednesday 31 October 2012

OERs - Open Educational Resources

ESTA - The Earth Sciences Teachers Association met at BGS Keyworth on the 28th - 30th September and the GB/3D team ran a demonstration of  laser scanning and 3D fossil models.

The project will produce an "OER" or Open Educational Resource using the 3D models and images. This is intended to be a "proof of concept", and the hope is that others will use the models and images to produce many other OERs. We are not sure yet whether our OER will be aimed at primary, secondary or higher education - or if there is sufficient interest, we might produce one for each sector.

We have already recruited some volunteers to help guide the work, including some at the ESTA meeting, but we are looking for one or two more any level. The work will be mainly via email and the web, but might include an odd trip to BGS Keyworth. If you have a suitable background and are interested in becoming part of an exciting project, please email me through the BGS website at: 

Museums Sheffield

The GB/3D Fossil Types digitisation team recently paid a visit to the stores of Museums Sheffield
(link:, to image the type specimens held there. One of the most interesting specimens was the holotype of Dentalium sorbii, pictured below. 

Even just the name of the fossil tells us many things:

·         Dentalium, the name of the Genus, is taken from the latin Dentis, for tooth, as the fossils are shaped like teeth, even though they are actually a kind of mollusc!

·         sorbii, the species name, is named after Henry Clifton Sorby (link:, who presented this specimen to the museum. Sorby was born near Sheffield in 1826, and went on to become a geologist and metallurgist of some significance. He was once ridiculed for wanting to “examine mountains with microscopes”, yet his work examining rock slices ground so thin that light could pass through them led to the establishment of the field of thin-section petrography, nowadays considered a standard analytical technique. Metalurgically, he was the first person to realise the contribution made by a small amount of carbon to the properties of steel, and who has not, at some time, used a blade with the words “Sheffield Steel” engraved upon it?

·         Finally, we know that the species was described by William King in 1850 – the rules for naming new species state that it is not allowed to name a fossil after oneself. Therefore King was able to name this shell after Sorby, in his honour. Roughly translated then, the name means “Henry Sorby’s tooth shaped shell”. 

Simon Harris,
GB/3D mobile team