Making a Guide to the Common Fossils of the Wisconsin Ordovician
Walker Weyland ’21, McHenry, Illinois
Majors: Geology; Biology
Minor: Studio Art
During the Ordovician period, 485.4 to 443.8 million years ago, Wisconsin and much of the Midwest were covered in a shallow warm ocean. Diversity was higher than ever before and today there are abundant fossils from this time. The Milwaukee Public Museum is a natural history museum that has an extensive collection of local fossils from the Ordovician. I was hired as a digitization assistant on a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to catalog and take pictures of the thousands of fossils within the collection. During my time at the museum, I created a guide to the local fossils using the specimens that I identified within the museum’s collection. The guide includes the most common species found in the museum, including trilobites, brachiopods, and corals. The guide includes more enigmatic species as well, such as receptaculites, tentaculites, and conulariids. The presentation will go over the ecosystem of the Wisconsin Ordovician and the process I used to identify the hundreds of species in the museum’s collection. I will also quickly touch on how these specimens were collected and then talk about some of the more difficult identifications that required me to locate primary literature from their first discovery in the 1800s and to contact curators around the country. I will conclude with a quick look at the final guide.