Fabulous Finds at Identification Day

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Museum scientists helped amateur naturalists identify specimens from their private collections during Identification Day 2015. ©AMNH/M.Shanley 

Museum scientists helped amateur naturalists identify specimens from their private collections during Identification Day 2015.

©AMNH/M.Shanley 


This weekend’s Identification Day brought legions of visitors to the Museum’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall with items like feathers, fossils, rocks, and other items from personal collections to be identified by Museum scientists. Among the hundreds of identifications made was this microraptor fossil from China, brought in by Alex S. of New York.

This microraptor was one of several fossils identified at Identification Day. © AMNH

This microraptor was one of several fossils identified at Identification Day.

© AMNH


That wasn’t the only interesting specimen, of course. Last week, we introduced you to some of the items Museum employees were hoping to have identified during the event. Here are the results!

©AMNH/D.Finnin

©AMNH/D.Finnin


Erin on our video team dug up these fossils during a camping trip in eastern Montana. The larger of the two was identified as a dinosaur bone, though what species of dinosaur was unclear. The smaller fossil is likely the fossil of a freshwater turtle. Both fossils hail from the Late Cretaceous.

©AMNH/D.Finnin

©AMNH/D.Finnin


Emily in the Museum’s Education department found these arrowheads in her backyard when she was growing up in Pataskala, Ohio. Adam Watson, a postdoctoral fellow in the Museum’s Anthropology Division, identified the arrowheads as being from the Archaic Period, which spans from 5,000 to 500 BCE. Members of a pre-Hopewellian group in what is now the American Midwest crafted these arrowheads from chert, a type of hard rock.

©AMNH/D.Finnin

©AMNH/D.Finnin


Musuem educator Ilana found these fossils in upstate New York in 2014 and wanted to find out what they were so that she could use them in her lessons. At Identification Day, Carl Mehling and Susan Klofak of the Museum’s Division of Paleontology identified the largest fossil as a tabulate coral, while the shells were from snails in the genus Bembexia. Both dated from the Devonian Period, around 350 million years ago, according to Mehling.

©AMNH/D.Finnin

©AMNH/D.Finnin


Rosa from the Marketing team brought in several mineral specimens, which were identified by Céline Martin in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. The purple rock was is erythrite, possibly from Morocco, the white is appophyllite and stilbite from India, and the orange stone is a fire opal of undetermined origin. The grey rock, meanwhile, is a fossil of some kind, likely an ancient aquatic invertebrate called a bryozoan, says Susan Klofak. 

©AMNH/D.Finnin

©AMNH/D.Finnin


Joe in Exhibition brought in this axe-head, which was identified as dating between 100 and 1,000 years BCE. The experts were also able to tell Joe that this particular axe was less than half the size of a typical specimen, suggesting it saw heavy use and was repeatedly re-sharpened over the years. 

©AMNH/D.Finnin

©AMNH/D.Finnin


Anna in Marketing brought in this vertebrae, which was identified by Eleanor Hoeger of the Department of Mammalogy as being from a reindeer, as well as a trilobite fossil she’d received as a gift. The fossil was found to be a 350-million-year-old specimen from the Phacopid group.

Clockwise from top: Denis’ skull, Sasha’s bone, Lucy’s jaw ©AMNH/D.Finnin

Clockwise from top: Denis’ skull, Sasha’s bone, Lucy’s jaw

©AMNH/D.Finnin


The skull, brought in by Denis in the Photo Department, turned out to be from a raccoon, identified by Neil Duncan in the Department of Mammalogy. Sasha in Exhibition brought in a bone that couldn’t be identified, though the best guess was that it came from the flipper of a marine mammal like a dolphin or small whale. Lucy from Marketing brought in a jawbone that belonged to a small carnivorous mammal, most likely a skunk.  

Looking for more? You can see additional pictures from Identification Day on the Museum’s tumblr page.