Invertebrate Paleontologyconducts research, research training and graduate education on the world’s fossil invertebrates – their relevance to evolutionary theory, their phylogenetic significance, as well as their paleobiogeography, paleoecology, and morphology. These studies are grounded in research collections of more than 900,000 specimens and their associated data. Research in Invertebrate Paleontology focuses on macroevolutionary theory and evolutionary patterns during key time periods in the history of life.


The invertebrate paleontology collection is ranked among the top 10 largest fossil invertebrate collections in the country and has over 900,000 fossil invertebrate and microfossil specimens from all over the world, including more than 11000 type specimens. These specimens have been used in paleontological research for over 125 years.  The collection has taxonomic strengths in Cambrian trilobites; Upper Paleozoic invertebrates of the mid-continent; Cambrian soft-bodied faunas from Utah; brachiopods; echinoderms; and Mesozoic cephalopods from the mid-continent. Research access to the collections is arranged on a case-by-case basis. Please contact for additional details.



The Division of Invertebrate Paleontology at KU engages in the study of macroevolution using the fossil record. We are especially interested in macroevolutionary theory, biogeography, phylogeny, and paleoecology. We study numerous topics including evolutionary radiations, mass extinctions, astrobiology, and the co-evolution of the Earth and its biota. 


Click here for the interview of post-doc Rhi in Prehistoric Beast of the Week!

Click here for the video of collection manager Natalia on Fossil Friday

The Digital Atlas of Ancient Life App was named the "Best Fossil Identification App" by the Wall Street Journal!  Click here.

Click here for curator Bruce's appearance on Cosmic Controversy.

Utah Fossil photo

Utah’s Cambrian Life

Evidence of Utah's Cambrian life is revealed by an exceptionally well-preserved fossil record of soft-bodied life forms that rarely stand any chance of becoming fossils. Fossil deposits that show such exceptional preservation are very important to paleontologists because they can reveal fossils of entire groups of completely soft-bodied ancient animals, such as worms, that would typically stand next to no chance of entering the fossil record. Explore Utah’s Cambrian Life.