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A real-life paleontologist breaks down #FossilFriday

T-Rex

David Monniaux/Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0)

The hashtag is used all over to promote and celebrate ‘neat dead things.’

Hashtags come and go but #FossilFriday seems like it may hang around on Twitter as long as the fossils it celebrates have hung around in the Earth.

Like most hashtags, it’s hard to pinpoint how or where it started. Tweets containing the hashtag stretch as far back as 2009. From then to about 2012, “fossil” seemed to refer to a great many things, like old video games or old Hollywood actors. This tweet sums it up nicely:

But most of the tweets came from university and museum paleontology departments. Sometime in 2013, the hashtag soared to popularity and became a celebrated pastime among amateur and professional paleontologists alike.

“It’s really about geeking out over nifty dead stuff,” Andrew Farke, a paleontologist at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, Calif., told the Daily Dot via email.

Farke said there’s not much more to the hashtag than a way for people who are into fossils to share their collections: “From my perspective, as someone at a museum, it’s also a nice way to showcase fossils that aren’t on exhibit, telling people a little more about the kinds of fossils in our collection and passing on some tidbits of knowledge.”

#FossilFriday has helped the curators at the museum properly identify fossils as well. By tweeting photos of fossils that have stumped the curators or that were misidentified, the museum has harnessed the power of the Internet to more accurately identify its collection.

So without further ado, here are some of the best recent #FossilFriday tweets:

Screengrab via David Monniaux/Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0)

Cynthia McKelvey

Cynthia McKelvey

Cynthia McKelvey covered the health and science for the Daily Dot until 2017. She earned a graduate degree in science communication from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2014. Her work has appeared in Gizmodo, Scientific American Mind, and Mic.com.