Vertebrate Paleontology conducts research, research training and graduate education on the world’s prehistoric vertebrates — their global diversity, phylogeny, macroevolutionary patterns, historical biogeography, morphology, paleoecology and behavior. These studies are grounded in research collections of over 150,000 specimens and their associated data. Major foci of Vertebrate Paleontology include early Cenozoic mammals, fossil birds, marine reptiles, Jurassic dinosaurs and fossil fishes.​




Broadly speaking, Vertebrate Paleontology seeks to reconstruct the history of vertebrate life on Earth. We contribute to this larger scientific effort by conducting original field and laboratory research aimed at discovering and interpreting the fossil record of vertebrates. Current research strengths include phylogeny, biogeography, functional morphology, and macroevolutionary patterns.



In Vertebrate Paleontology, the fossil fish collection includes important holdings in Devonian fishes, Carboniferous fishes, and Mesozoic fishes from the Central Great Plains.  The Amphibian collections hold important Carboniferous material. The fossil bird collection is supported by some 800 comparative casts and is one of the most useful study collections in the world.  The Natural Trap Cave collection is one of the most important Late Pleistocene collections and is heavily used.  The usefulness of the fossil mammal collection as a teaching and research tool is greatly enhanced by a collection of several thousand critical fossil casts.

Predatory Behavior of T. rex

In a paper published in the journal PNAS, the tooth crown embedded in a hadrosaurid caudal centrum provides direct evidence of predatory behavior by Tyrannosaurus rex.



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