A fossil’s species and age provide important clues as to what past environments may have looked like, and how they have changed. In Australia there are many sites where we do not have sufficient fossil data to understand what the past environment was like. University of Canberra researchers are trying to rectify this by looking for microfossils, such as minuscule pollen, fungi and algae, in these locations instead.
Microfossils cannot be seen with the naked eye, and so automatic scanning electron microscopy at Microscopy Australia’s Australian National University facility was used to image the samples, including anything that may be a microfossil in the process. The researchers are seeking public help to search through these images and identify the ones that contain microfossils to help speed up the process. These microfossils will provide the key to documenting the age and environmental conditions at a range of new locations.
Fellow NCRIS facility, the Atlas of Living Australia, is hosting the citizen science project using their crowdsourcing tool DigiVol which was developed in collaboration with the Australian Museum.