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The Museum's Paleontology Collections comprise nearly 30,000 specimens, including over 20,000 vertebrate, 5,000 paleobotanical, and 2,000 invertebrate fossils.
Our collections strength is in the Intermountain West, particularly Utah.
We have world-class vertebrate fossil collections from the Late Cretaceous of southern Utah (Kaiparowits, Wahweap, and Straight Cliffs formations) and the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of central Utah, including the largest collection anywhere, from the world-famous Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. Other important vertebrate collections include the Pleistocene of Utah, early collections from the Pliocene Hagerman Fossil Horse Quarry, the Oligocene of the southern unit of Badlands National Park in South Dakota, and the Eocene of the Uinta Basin.
Our paleobotanical holdings include large collections from the Early Eocene Green River Formation of Utah and Wyoming, and an excellent collection of Triassic specimens from the Colorado Plateau collected by world-renowned paleobotanist Dr. Sid Ash.
Staff & Research Projects
The current staff of NHMU Paleontology includes Curator Dr. Randall Irmis and Collections Manager Mike Getty. Over the past ten years, our research has focused heavily on the Mesozoic vertebrate paleontology of Utah. Current field-based major research projects include:
- Late Cretaceous of southern Utah in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
- Late Triassic of southeastern and northeastern Utah
- Late Triassic of Ghost Ranch, northern New Mexico
- Early Permian of southeastern Utah
This research has resulted in major discoveries of new species of dinosaurs and other vertebrate animals from the time of dinosaurs. The goal of our fieldwork is to understand how climate and sea level have driven the evolution and biogeography of non-marine vertebrate animals during the Triassic and Cretaceous. To this end, we collaborate with a large group of geologists, geochronologists, geochemists, paleobotanists, and other paleontologists both at the University of Utah and other institutions.
Volunteer To Be a Part of the NHMU Paleontology Team!
Our research team includes staff, students, and you! The exciting discoveries made by NHMU Paleontology would not be possible without the vital teamwork of our dedicated group of volunteers, who put in over 15,000 person-hours a year. You too can become a part of this amazing team and work with fossils that are millions of years old. Start by checking out our current volunteer opportunities available in these areas: fieldwork, fossil preparation, and collections.