The distribution of fossils from the Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years ago) in Austria is a particular focal point in the scientific problem of this geoscience project. Exciting field research in the Austrian Alps forms the foundation of the resulting research. Effective explorations in Austria are continuously declining, but knowledge about fossils is always increasing. This gap can be closed with the combined energy of both young and old, from scientists to citizen scientists. Methods from biostratigraphy and taxonomy are used, as are the latest techniques in photographic documentation. The relative age of ammonites, molluscs and snails are identified, which then allows basic classification in taxonomic groups. These methods and goals then lead to more complete data on the distribution of various fossil groups from the Cretaceous period in the northern Austrian limestone Alps. Scientists then benefit from knowing about sources for different fossil groups in new locations and citizen scientists benefit from precise identification by specialists.
This new project gives interested citizen scientists, who range from school pupils to amateur collectors and professional scientists, a basis for identifying new Cretaceous fossils, publishing these and thereby completing the network of data from the Cretaceous period in Austria. The collaborators are thus collecting new data for research into the Cretaceous period in the Alps. This can be through photo documentation or by actively collecting Cretaceous fossils. Another very useful dimension to this project is the treasures kept in private collections belonging to many citizen scientists. These discoveries are entered into accessible data sets and inventory databases and should result in a comprehensive picture of Cretaceous deposits and its fossils in Austria. The data is evaluated, made available as a graphic online and shown on Google Maps. The aim of this is to then create an interactive map showing the geographic distribution of these discoveries. The new project enables a correlation with other places of discovery from the same era and fossil associations in Europe.
The tasks within the project are supported individually. The project manager,Priv.-Doz. Dr. Alexander Lukeneder from the Natural History Museum Vienna, is, on the one hand, responsible for coordinating and creating data sets and processing the information into publications and databases that can be accessed and viewed by any interested party, whether scientists, collectors, amateur researchers or citizen scientists. The areas of responsibility for citizen scientists mean that the volunteers in the project are allocated a variety of tasks. These range from collecting finds and reporting them to the joint potential description to the final inventory and publication of the fauna and flora in Austria’s Cretaceous period.
There will soon be a link to the data and the accompanying results on the project page on Österreich forscht. This will also provide a detailed description of where and how you can find and utilise the project data.
Those who are interested in taking part should contact Dr Alexander Lukeneder by
Telephon: 0043 1 52177 251
Click on an image to enlarge.
In the following you will find interesting internet links with Cretaceous period reference. On these pages citizen scientists can read the latest publications about fossils, environment or climate variations of the Cretaceous period. In addition, internationally and globally valid classifications and zonings of the Cretaceous can be viewed. Important data and facts for route planning and the localization of find points can be planned and retrieved in digital systems. Tectonic units and rock formations can be explored on geological maps.
All these data are freely accessible on the assigned links.