Glossary of Terms

Accession - the process a museum uses to legally acquire a specimen.

Basin morphotype - a morphotype that has passed the quality test and is well-preserved enough to be formally named and compared across multiple quarries.

Bin – a collection of leaf architectural characters. Bins are used to separate large numbers of fossils into manageable groups based shared characteristics for identification.

Locality – a place where a fossil was collected. At DMNS, each locality gets a memorable name, a field number and an institutional number. We record our coordinates in decimal degrees and use NAD27 as the datum.

Morphotype – in simplest terms, this is a description of the "body plan" of a leaf, seed or other part of a plant. There can be multiple examples of a morphotype but each must share a set of common, diagnostic characteristics. A holomorphotype is the single specimen that most completely documents the diagnostic features of the morphotype.

Morphotypes are informal and act as proxies for formal species while they are being studied. Note that when the study is completed, a species may be represented by more than one morphotype. For example, on a single tree, some Sassafras leaves are lobed while others are not. The lobed and non-lobed varieties have different "body plans" so they are considered different morphotypes using the "body plan" definition. Once the lobed and non-lobed varieties are found attached, they are recognized to be from the same species and are regrouped into one morphotype with a range of leaf architectural characteristics. Although finding lobed and non-lobed leaves on a single tree is rare, all morphotypes (and species) have a continuum of variation in their character states. For this reason, we strive to collect enough specimens from one quarry (300-500 specimens) to document the variation of the most common fossils.

Quarry holomorphotype - the single specimen that most completely documents the diagnostic features of a morphotype within a quarry.

Basin holomorphotype - a quarry holomorphotype that has passed the quality test (HQI ? 4) and is well- enough preserved to be formally named and compared across multiple quarries

Quarry – a distinct hole in the ground that produces fossils. A typical DMNS quarry is about 5 square feet. The thickness depends on the outcrop but is typically less than 1 foot thick.