A new set of fossil marine vertebrate specimens arrives in the Department of Paleobiology at NMNH, donated by Kent Gibson, ready to be cataloged. (Photo: Brittany M. Hance)
It's no secret that professional paleontologists have to make a special effort to get out into the field to search for fossils -- it's the weekend warriors combing beaches at the right times (and tides) who have all the fun. Here, we want to recognize one particular collector, Kent Gibson, from Newport, Oregon.
Kent and Kirk, posing with the large billfish skull that Kent collected; and Kent's skull, now matched with a very similar specimen (in NDP's hands) collected by Douglas Emlong in the 1960s (USNM 335429). (Photos: Kirk Johnson and Brittany M. Hance)
Earlier this year, NMNH's Sant Director Kirk Johnson visited Kent, during a West Coast swing with paleoartist Ray Troll. (Kirk, as some may know, has a soft spot for the fossil marine furries). Kent is one of those rare fossil finders who has the dedication and tenacity to march out on the beaches day after day, keeping a sharp eye out for that special texture or glint of bone. Kent has collected from some of the same localities in Lincoln County that Douglas Emlong did several decades ago, despite the fact that these beaches have stymied many collectors and professional paleontologists! It goes to show that if you have the right skills, you can find the fossils.
Kirk pointing to a partial skull of a desmostylian, collected by Kent, which was also featured in Newport News-Times, below. (Photo: Brittany M. Hance)
When it became clear that Kent was willing to donate some of his most scientifically important (and some of his most cherished) specimens to the Department of Paleobiology at NMNH, we were thrilled. Now -- federal shutdown notwithstanding -- his collection has arrived, to be cataloged and included in one of the most important collections of fossil marine vertebrates in the world. Thanks, Kent!