Thu. May 30th, 2024

Key Points:

  • The current methodology for tracking and storing paleontological data is not sophisticated
  • Tom Hebert developed a GIS-based solution to map data regarding paleontological discoveries
  • Hebert has used GIS tools to map dig sites and store information about each discovery such as location, species, and condition
  • Hebert is working to address concerns about protecting the integrity of dig sites
  • Hebert’s organization, the Earth Sciences Foundation, works to make Earth sciences accessible to everyone
  • The foundation focuses on youth outreach, decompression digs for veterans, and involving Native American communities in paleontology

The article discusses the work of Tom Hebert, a former insurance business owner who discovered a love for paleontology later in life. While studying geography at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Hebert developed a GIS-based solution to organize and map data related to paleontological discoveries. Hebert’s system allows data to be stored and pinned to highly accurate positions on a map, providing information about location, species, anatomical location, morphology, and condition. Hebert has also begun to use X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) to collect the chemical composition of findings, which can help estimate a dinosaur’s age.

However, Hebert has encountered pushback from the academic world due to concerns about protecting the integrity of dig sites. He and his team are testing new systems using RFID and NFC technologies to tag fossils, allowing smartphone users to access information about each tag. Hebert acknowledges that change is hard, especially in field sciences like paleontology, but believes that technology can offer a different, faster, and better way of doing things.

In addition to his GIS work, Hebert has founded the Earth Sciences Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at making Earth sciences accessible to everyone. The foundation has programs for youth outreach, including working with children as young as four, as well as programs for veterans and Native American communities. Hebert’s goal is to inspire and involve young people, veterans, and Native Americans in Earth sciences, geospatial technology, and land surveying.

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