May 21, 2020
Though Dr. Pritchard is a vertebrate paleontologist by training, the museum's paleontology collections consist of more than just specimens of animals with backbones. In fact, the paleontology collections consist of hundreds of thousands of invertebrate specimens (animals without a backbone) that are every bit as critical in telling the story of Virginia's ancient past. In this episode, Dr. Pritchard tells the story of Chesapecten, an extinct genus of scallop that flourished off the coast of what we now know as Virginia approximately 10 million and 5 million years ago. In fact, the species Chesapecten jeffersonius - which is named after the famed Thomas Jefferson - is the official state fossil of Virginia!
*If you think you've found a fossil and would like to get it checked out by Dr. Pritchard or other museum scientists and staff, please go to the VMNH contact form located on the official VMNH website at https://www.vmnh.net/forms/contact and we'll get you in touch with the right person!