ID Day: a special day to share treasures


Oct 21, 2013

Cody Thompson talks about porcupines, otters, wolverines and more at the mammal station.

Cody Thompson talks about porcupines, otters, wolverines and more at the mammal station.

There’s nothing quite like ID Day to bring out the science sleuths in the community and this year they appeared in droves. Their “offerings” included a wolf spider, three cicadas, a bird egg, a dinosaur tooth, a whale vertebra, and plenty more.

A U-M Museum of Zoology task force participated in the 2013 ID Day, one of two designated Ruthven Museums annual public outreach events, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013.  The public brings in a wide array of natural objects for identification by talented and knowledgeable graduate student, collection manager and curator volunteers. At the same time, they are introduced to some of the specimens from the exceptional research collections. 

“The event was a smashing success, attracting 656 visitors (a marked increase on last years’ 378) including many young children and their parents,” said Professor Diarmaid Ó Foighil, director and curator, Museum of Zoology.  All six UMMZ divisions were represented, including bird, fish, insect, mammal, mollusk, reptiles and amphibians. “My profound thanks to all UMMZ personnel who participated,” said Ó Foighil. “Your enthusiasm and professionalism is inspiring and greatly appreciated.”

Experts from the fields of paleontology, anthropology, archaeology, botany, zoology, and geology were on hand. They helped visitors identify: shells; rocks and minerals; fossils; arrowheads and other stone tools; shards of pottery; vertebrate bones; insects; skulls; seeds, leaves, twigs; and fish.

National Fossil Day coincided with this year’s ID Day so aspiring paleontologists had the opportunity to earn their National Park Service Jr. Ranger Paleontologist badges.

UMMZ volunteers included: graduate students Jen-Pan Huang, John Marino, Paula Teichholtz, Andrew Wood; post-graduate research assistant Iris Holmes; collections staff Janet Hinshaw, Taehwan Lee, Doug Nelson, Mark O’Brien, Cody Thompson; Alison Davis Rabosky, assistant research scientist; and Professors Tom Duda, Phil Myers, Diarmaid Ó Foighil and Dan Rabosky.

Jen-Pan Huang and Mark O’Brien entertain and inform at the insect station, where the Hercules Beetles were a big hit.

Jen-Pan Huang and Mark O’Brien entertain and inform at the insect station, where the Hercules Beetles were a big hit.