Event, April 14, Manhattan: Identification Day at the American Museum of Natural History

An annual event at the American Museum of Natural History, Identification Day provides "the public" with an opportunity to pick the brains of experts:
If you like PBS's Antiques Roadshow, you'll love ID Day at the Museum, an annual favorite when Museum scientists and experts are at the ready to solve your mysteries of natural history. Bring in backyard finds, basement curios, and flea market discoveries to find out if that funny rock is a fossil or not, or if a certain artifact is a cultural treasure. Whatever the outcome, the event is sure to be fun and informative!
- AMNH email
Unlike Roadshow, however, they don't do appraisals.

I've never gone with anything to identify. It's just as much fun to stand by a table, listen in, and watch.

Some student of archaeology or anthropology, presumably working on some thesis or other, and having no knowledge of his own of vertebrate anatomy, brought in several shoeboxes of animal bones recovered from a site. When there was noone else waiting for an identification, the woman at the table, clearly irritated but patient, was going through the boxes, bone by bone, to identify them. The student transcribed, barely able to keep up with her identifications as she picked and identified up bone after bone.

I watched as she picked up one tiny fragment of a bone, the size of a pinky nail. She took one look at it, declared "turtle femur," and set it aside.

She was impressive. For some reason, "turtle femur" has just stuck in my mind all these years.

1 comment:

Rurality said...

A cool service! There was an Indian artifact expert at our tiny museum last year... I learned that my presumed ancient artifact was just a rock. :(