Paleonet: Paleontology-related educational resources on the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life

Jonathan Hendricks jrh42 at
Thu Jan 23 19:48:39 GMT 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As the spring semester begins for many of us, I want to remind you of some
of the free, online paleontology-related educational resources that we have
developed as part of the NSF-supported Digital Atlas of Ancient Life
project ( We hope you might
find some of these useful in your classroom, or as a supplement for your
students as they learn outside of the classroom/lab.

1) The Digital Encyclopedia of Ancient Life (DEAL)--an online, open access
paleontology textbook--continues to grow. Recent additions from the past
six months include a large chapter on "Evolution and the Fossil Record,"
pages about ancient and modern land plants, and taxonomic chapters focused
on sponges, brachiopods, and several echinoderm groups. Numerous additional
chapters are also already online. Almost all DEAL content has Creative
Commons licensing, allowing you to use it for educational purposes with few

2) A large Virtual Collection of over 520 interactive 3D digital models of
fossil and modern specimens from the collections of the Paleontological
Research Institution has been developed using photogrammetry. These
taxonomically-sorted 3D models allow students to explore fossil specimens
outside of a classroom setting in an interactive way, and some include
annotations of key features. We anticipate that they will be useful for
online courses, for those at institutions that lack a large physical
collection, or as a supplement to help students study outside of lab. They
are also useful for in-class presentations when projected at full-screen
size. All of the models may also be freely downloaded from Sketchfab and
can be 3D printed.

3) There are now four Digital Atlas online field guides to fossils; these
are focused on the Ordovician of the Cincinnati Region, the Pennsylvanian
of the Midcontinent, the Cretaceous of the Western Interior, and
the Neogene of the Southeastern United States.

4) Related to #3, we are also happy to share that Version 2.0 of our
Digital Atlas mobile app (which now includes Cretaceous fossils from the
Western Interior) is available for free download for both iOS and Android

5) A variety of classroom lesson plans, activities, and associated
materials that relate to the Ordovician and Neogene atlases have been
developed for elementary, middle school, and high school/college-level
educators and their students.

6) Finally, we have created an online exhibit on "Living Fossils" that
builds upon a physical exhibit that was shared with the public last year at
PRI's Museum of the Earth.

Links to all of these resources can be found on the Digital Atlas homepage
(link above).

As always, we welcome any feedback that you might have and would love to
know how you have incorporated any of these resources into your classes.

Best wishes,

Jon Hendricks

*Jonathan R. Hendricks*
Director of Science Communication, Paleontological Research Institution
Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell
1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850
*Phone: (607) 273-6623 x120
*Email: jrh42 at
Visit the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life
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