At the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) we are convinced that paleontology, as a discipline between Biology and Geology, has to make fundamental contributions to the theory of evolution, with a clear research direction towards Paleobiology.
To put it another way, at the ICP it is not enough knowing what dinosaurs or mammals of twelve million years ago, or primates or hominids, the ancestors of the man, looked like. We want to know how they lived, how they moved, and what their biology was in order to understand how these living beings, and the environments around them, have evolved.
For our research team, the paleontological work (excavations, taxonomy, description…) is an essential part of what we do. More and more, however, we carry out research using virtual paleontology. That is, using new technologies and techniques for observation of fossils, like x-ray tomography that obtains images of cuts or sections of the units, and confocal microscopy, to obtain three-dimensional images.
The preparation and conservation of the paleontological collections of the Institut, which we are expanding, are also a fundamental part of our work, since the fossil units are our basic material. In this sense, the ICP has the will to become the reference center for Catalonia focused on the conservation of the paleontological patrimony of vertebrates. Therefore, we offer technical advice in this and other matters to those institutions that request it.
But at the ICP we go further. Besides research, preparation and conservation, we place special importance on outreach of the paleontological heritage and its meaning. Explaining the findings of our researchers to society is as important for us as undertaking a new excavation. We have the ability to put within the hands of those who are interested, the conceptual and material tools that allow a cultural and entertaining use of this paleontological heritage. And we do it, not only with the exhibition halls of the Museum, located in the center of Sabadell (Catalonia, Spain), but also by collaborating in the creation and management of a network of local interpretative centers on paleontology. At this time, when the creationist movement is mounting an offensive, we feel the need to help spread one of the most important scientific theories; the theory of evolution.
I do not want to finish without directing myself to the young people who are fascinated with the secrets of the origin and evolution of life. I encourage them to study and to put their talent to the service of the search for answers in the fossil registry. Because, by formulating the correct questions, they will find answers to enigmas that we cannot solve today. You, as young people, are also the future of this Institut, where, from the first day, we have let ourselves be guided by the words of Albert Einstein; "if you are looking for different results, do not always do the same thing".
Best wishes and a warm welcome,
David M. Alba