Upon returning to his USGS laboratory in Menlo Park, California, Brian worked with Tom Lorenson on sampling the cores and extracting the shells. The recovered shells were then taken to USGS paleontologist Chuck Powell, for identification. While Chuck was able to ascertain the higher level classification of the clam shells (Family Thyasiridae), he was unable to determine the genus or species. Chuck contacted Paul Valentich-Scott, a clam specialist from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in California.
When examining these ancient shell specimens, Paul was fairly certain that they were new to science. The hunt to validate the potential new species was on. Paul contacted a number of thyasirid bivalve specialists around the world and all gave it a thumbs up as a new species. Further, several scientists felt it also might be a new genus (the level above species).
‘It is always exciting when you are the first person to be looking at a new creature’ declared Valentich-Scott. ‘While I have been fortunate to discover and describe many new species in my career, it is always exhilarating at the outset.’
Then the painstaking work began. Paul contacted museums around the globe and requested to borrow specimens that were potentially related to the new species. While he found many species that shared some characteristics, none matched the new Arctic specimens.