Implementing Social Paleontology: An Examination of Amateur Paleontologists' Facebook Groups

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Annual Meeting, Southeastern Section, Geological Society of America


Columbia, SC

Publication Date



While some research has been conducted on the formation and creation of amateur fossil clubs and societies, very little inquiry has explored how such clubs contribute to paleontological knowledge through a growing and popular method of communication: social media sites. An examination of four Facebook pages run by amateur paleontological groups reveals patterns in usage that can benefit the field of paleontology in light of the Community of Practice theoretical framework (Lave & Wenger, 1991). University of Florida researchers analyzed the types of conversations on these pages and measured levels of engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares; this was done to understand how amateur paleontologists discuss paleontology and how social media postings can contribute to the field. These Facebook pages provide insight into the ways in which amateur paleontologists discuss fossil identification, disseminate information about events and field trips, and encourage participation in the science of paleontology. Furthermore, we present best practices for utilizing social media, including methods for fossil organizations to distribute knowledge, increase conversational interactions, and foster discussions in online social media communities.

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