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Discovering Texas Fossils

Raised toward our $15,000 Goal
95 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 20, at 07:00 PM CST
Project Owners

You did it!

November 19, 2015

I'm very pleased to share that with your help, as of yesterday we exceeded our goal of $15,000, and contributions are still coming in. Every additional dollar donated in the next two days will go to pay for undergraduate student support in the coming semester. I'm also delighted to announce that because we met our goal, one of our donors has committed an extra $4500 to the Wilson Excellence Fund! This is one of the endowments that we use to support daily functions in the labs and collections, and is crucial to our operation. Accounts like the Wilson Fund pay for everything from plaster and picks to printer toner and postage. 

Deep thanks are due to everyone who donated, who tweeted and shared our emails, and who encouraged others to contribute. Stay tuned as we continue to update you through the coming months as the project develops.


Field jackets are time capsules...

November 17, 2015

Not only do we have field notes, photographs, and maps associated with the fossils, but natural history collections are also a treasure trove of artifacts left behind by the people who collected and worked on the specimens. Newspaper is often used as a separating layer between bones and the plaster jackets that protect them through the decades, and can sometimes provide evidence about when and where the fossils were collected. Advertisements for movies like Charlie McCarthy, Detective, which premiered in 1939, can help narrow down collection information even if all of the markings have been rubbed off of the plaster. After 75 years, it isn't a surprise that we see this happen sometimes.

We're almost there!

November 16, 2015

We've had a great start to our final week, and the campaign is now at 75% of the way to our target. Contributions to this project will help to pay for the conservation and curation of fossils like these below- phytosaur bones from the Triassic beds of Howard County, TX, about 220 million years old. If you look closely, you can see that we sometimes even get to read the funny papers!

One week left, and more than halfway to our goal!

November 14, 2015

Through the generosity of our numerous donors, the Discovering Texas Fossils campaign jumped by more than 20% in just three days. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far, and if you're considering supporting student opportunities and the conservation of important collections, there is still one week left to help us meet our goal of $15,000. Your contribution will support the preparation and conservation of fossils like these below- some of the thousands of fossils collected from Bee and Blanco Counties by the Works Progress Administration. Undergraduates looking for experience in the laboratory will be trained by UT staff and research associates, and will gain skills that are valuable across a wide range of careers and interests. 

A digital life for old documents

November 09, 2015

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far! We are more than halfway through our campaign, and more than a quarter of the way to our fundraising goal. With less than two weeks to go, your support is vital to help us meet our goals of preserving and protecting this part of our natural heritage.

The records that accompany our fossils are equally as important as the bones themselves. Without this data and the geological context they provide, interpretation of the fossils is very difficult. The WPA fossil excavations are very well documented, and the archives here at the lab have been well preserved. UT students have already begun the process of digitizing these files (field photos, maps, inventories, etc), and once complete, the archives will be made freely available online. Paleontologists, historians, and the general public will be able to conduct preliminary research before leaving their homes. In this way, we will add another dimension of access and information to the specimens prepared through the support of the Discovering Texas Fossils project.


Three weeks to go, and more student research!

November 02, 2015

Sincere thanks to everyone who has donated to our campaign so far. Your contributions support the work of students like David Ledesma, who for the past year has been working with Dr. Steve May, a lab research associate studying fossils collected by the WPA from the Goliad Formation in Bee and Live Oak Counties. David has been opening field jackets and preparing fossils like this fragile gomphothere tusk. David and Steve are comparing these tusks to specimens already in the collections, looking for evidence of enamel bands that help determine which species of gomphothere lived in this fauna.

Undergraduate research

October 26, 2015

Thank you for your support as we approach our first $1000. 

Opportunities in the laboratory often translate into opportunities to participate in research. For example, Dr. Michelle Stocker began her career in paleontology as an undergraduate. As a Ph.D. candidate at UT, she similarly gave students opportunities to be involved in research. Jennifer Rembach and Simone Siegel were both able to see a project through the laboratory and research phase, and presented their work as co-authors at a Texas Academy of Sciences meeting.

Choose a giving level



A gift at any level will gain access to weekly updates through our "Lab Notes" blog. There, you will be able to follow the progress of our students and staff as we uncover and curate these important fossils.



Donating at this level will provide important laboratory supplies, like archival adhesives, for the long term conservation of fossils.



Your gift will help to pay for curation supplies, including materials to make custom padded cradles for fossil bones.


Collections Assistant

A donation at the Collections Assistant level will allow the purchase of metal collections drawers, so that we can safely house the newly prepared bones.



Your gift will help to pay students as they open and excavate plaster field jackets full of fossils. Donors contributing $500 or more will also be invited to an open house in the paleontology collections, receiving guided tours of our facilities and seeing demonstrations about the research and the students that you are helping to support. Not in Austin? We can arrange for a virtual tour via Skype.


Collection Manager

A gift at this level pays for a shelving unit and supplies to house fossils in climate controlled storage. With a $1000 contribution, you can also join us for dinner and a private tour of the laboratories and collections.



A donation of $5000 covers the complete curation of a cabinet full of fossils. This includes purchasing a cabinet, drawers, housing materials, and labor. Gifts at this level will include a plaque on the cabinet door, with thanks to the donor or in tribute to an individual.

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