The west coast of the Americas has experienced dramatic change — in sea level, landscape, and climate — over the past hundred million years. We know because we can see the change in the kinds of rocks we find along the coast, and in the fossil remains we find within those rocks. Natural history museums manage large collections of fossils so that present and future scientists can study and better understand the history of our Pacific coastlines, and apply those understandings to the future. Nine museums are partnering to make their Pacific coast fossil data available through the Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoic (EPICC) project.
The fossils represented in the EPICC museum collections and the field sites from which they were collected are both fascinating and of great value educationally. Materials the EPICC project developed for broader audiences includes virtual visits — “virtual fieldwork experiences” (VFE) — to classic paleontological field sites using images of outcrops, fossils, and the maps of each site. The first of the sites to be documented through a VFE is the Kettleman Hills in Central California.