The University of Wyoming

Department of Geology and Geophysics

Collection of Fossil Vertebrates
(a component of the Departmental Scientific Collections)

T he Collection of Fossil Vertebrates represents an integral research and teaching component of the Department of Geology and Geophysics. The collection is a nationally recognized, public scientific resource that emphasizes the late Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossil record of Wyoming's Laramide basins and High Plains. The collection has roots that extend back to 1887, when The University of Wyoming's Geological Museum was founded; it was led by early curators William H. Reed and Wilbur C. Knight. Since then, the collection has grown into one of the most important for research on the geological and biological history of the Rocky Mountain region.

The over 40,000 cataloged specimens in this collection include:
  • More than 50 holotype specimens;
  • A teaching collection of more than 3,000 specimens, including casts of key specimens from other institutions' collections;
  • Approximately 84% of the cataloged specimens are mammalian, with the remainder comprised of reptiles, amphibians, and fish; The collection consists mostly of Cenozoic fossils (Neogene = 4,600+; Paleogene = 19,000+) and Upper Cretaceous fossils (5,500+) with particularly important samples from the Cretaceous and Paleocene of the Hanna Basin (Medicine Bow, Ferris, and Hanna Formations) and from the Lance Formation of Wyoming;
  • Nearly all specimen numbers, along with appropriate contextual data, are entered into a computer database .

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    Comments on or suggestions for the improvement of this web page or the VP Collection Database should be directed to Dr. Laura Vietti .