Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Donation of Fossils Adds Eons of Time to Oregon Collection

20.02.2009
Greg Retallack picked up his first fossil as a 6-year-old boy on vacation at a beach in Coledale, Australia. The fossil was nothing special—a clam shell in beach rock—but it sparked a lifelong passion for collecting and recording fossils from around the world.

For 51 years, Retallack, a University of Oregon geology professor, has expanded his collection. He recently donated most of it to the UO's Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Retallack’s collection exceeds 9,000 items, stretching back through eons of time. His donated pieces will be added to the Condon Collection, which is part of the museum's paleontological holdings. In addition to a wide variety of fossils and rocks, the Condon Collection includes the personal holdings of Thomas Condon, the UO's first geology professor, which were obtained soon after Condon's death in 1907.

“The Condon Collection is a scientific legacy for the whole state, and my collection adds to that substantively,” said Retallack, who is one of the curators of the Condon Collection. Retallack’s gift increases the Condon Collection by almost 20 percent and adds significantly to the diversity and geographic coverage of the collection.

“Amassed over his lifetime, Greg’s collection comes from all seven continents and from the earliest signs of life to the present day,” said Edward Davis, Condon Collection manager. “The taxonomic scope is excellent as well, since Greg has managed to collect specimens of several important taxa for comparative purposes, as well as a number of excellent casts of historically important specimens.”

Retallack, who was born in Hobart, the capital of Australia's island state of Tasmania, says he built his collection, only keeping pieces that were truly exceptional and of museum quality, knowing that the end result would likely be used for education and display.

The result is a vast assortment of fossils that offer glimpses of the earth’s ancient past. From 13,000-year-old woolly mammoth hairs found in Siberia to 3.5 billion-year-old stromatolitic limestone unearthed in Western Australia to leaf and fruit impressions from Antarctica, the fossils help to establish the chronology of life on Earth.

“Greg’s interests span the entire range of paleontology from plants to vertebrates and invertebrates, and the diversity of the assemblage reflects that interest and expertise,” said William Orr, geology professor emeritus and director of the Condon Collection. “Many of the specimens he donated are simply no longer available because of their rarity or restrictions on collecting at many of the sites.”

Along with catalogued pieces, Retallack's donation also includes 129 field notebooks filled cover-to-cover with handwritten details about the fossils he collected and where each came from. The notebooks will be an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to study the pieces further, Retallack said, ,noting that fossil collections purchased commercially rarely include information on where the items were found. “We know exactly where it all came from,” he said. “Some older museum collections, for a variety of reasons, often didn’t do that.”

Ensuring that the fossils have a permanent home was one reason behind the donation, Retallack said, but he also hopes that by becoming part of the museum collections the pieces will be more accessible to the general public and to researchers.

However, given the size of the collection—approximately 26 cubic yards of fossils altogether, with individual pieces ranging in size from a large slab of fossil palm leaves from central Oregon to tiny microfossils of Precambrian cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)—that may prove difficult in the near future, say museum officials.

The Condon Collection already fills its current space to capacity, but plans are underway for an additional wing to be added to the Museum of Natural and Cultural History to house the paleontological collections. The museum currently is building a new curation center to house anthropological and archaeological collections.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of the 62 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Story Author: Kate Griesmann, development and communications assistant, Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Sources: Greg Retallack, professor of geological sciences, 541-346-4558, gregr@uoregon.edu; Edward B. Davis, manager, Condon Collection, Museum of Natural and Cultural History, 541-346-3461, edavis@uoregon.edu; William Orr, director, Condon Collection, 541-346-4577, worr@uoregon.edu

Links:
Museum of Natural and Cultural History:
http://natural-history.uoregon.edu/index.html;
Retallack faculty Web page:
http://www.uoregon.edu/~dogsci/directory/faculty/greg/about

Jim Barlow | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered
18.01.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht A close-up look at an uncommon underwater eruption
11.01.2018 | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>