Resourcefulness is important in science - but perhaps some take it to the extreme. These juice cans were from Field Museum Curator of Fossil Mammals, Dr. William (“Bill”) D. Turnbull. Having grown up in the Great Depression era, Turnbull wasted nothing and recycled everything. The cans were used to store fossil bones from his excavations in Wyoming, where he spent nearly 50 years collecting in the Washakie Basin. Never seeing a specimen he didn’t like, Turnbull also collected a number of canid skulls during his time in the field.
Each can has a unique field number in order to identify where and when the fossil (or skull) was collected. They are historically significant for painting a broader picture of Turnbull as a person, in addition to demonstrating unique field collection techniques in the mid-20th century. For now, they sit - sorted and ordered - on a table in a lab outside of one of our fossil collections until they can be put away.
Photo of Turnbull sent to me by Bill Simpson, Head of Geologic Collections at The Field Museum.