Palaeontology Field and Museum Skills


Credits 20

Palaeontology Field and Museum Skills includes an overseas field course to study fossils in a field context as well as practical and transferable training in museum skills, working with museums including the Lapworth Museum of Geology and being co-taught by museum professionals. The field course location will be linked to active sites and ongoing research activity within the Palaeobiology research group. Locations may therefore vary but are likely to initially focus on the USA (Utah/Colorado).

 Students will develop palaeontological field skills including discovering and identifying fossils and fossiliferous deposits, understanding and describing depositional environments, recording sedimentary sequences and interpreting fossilisation processes. Modern techniques for the documentation of fossils in the field will be employed. Students will gain a detailed understanding of how fossils are preserved, discovered, collected and conserved, and the significance of key fossiliferous deposits and sites for evolutionary palaeobiology. 

 From a museum perspective, students will compare and contrast the different ways in which geological museums curate, display and conserve fossil collections, and develop their own museum skills, including in designing displays and educational resources, specimen curation and conservation, and museum ethics.

By the end of this module students should be able to:

  • Develop a wide range of palaeontological field skills
  • Explain the geological (sedimentary) context of  fossiliferous deposits
  • Explain the taphonomy and fossilisation processes of fossiliferous deposits
  • Explain the significance of fossiliferous deposits for evolutionary palaeobiology
  • Understand the approach of different geology museums to curation, display, interpretation and conservation of palaeontological collections
  • Understand the history and modern roles of museum collections, and the ethical issues around the collection, acquisition and study of fossil specimens
  •  Design a concept for a museum exhibition to a level approaching a professional standard

Assessment

  • Fieldwork blog
  • Exhibition design