Collections Access and Policies

The collection is a heavily used resource. In addition to staff and student research, the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology handles external loans and receives visits from professional colleagues at home and abroad. Specimens in the collection are generally available for loan upon approval by the Curator-in-Charge, Dr. Chris Beard.

Specimens may be loaned to qualified, recognized professionals or their students, at the discretion of the Curator-in-Charge. Graduate students requesting specimens on loan must submit a letter of request co-signed by their advisor. The borrower assumes full and complete responsibility for the material on loan, and agrees to all conditions specimens for the handling and storage of borrowed specimens. The criteria considered in granting a loan request include, but are not limited to, the number of specimens in the request, which specimens are requested, the condition of the specimens, what the borrower plans to do with the specimens, the project design, the previous loan record of the borrower, the location of the borrower, and priority use of the material by another researcher. In some cases, it may be preferable for a researcher to visit the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology instead of borrowing specimens.

The catalog data for most specimens in the collection is available via the Specify web portal. Staff are currently working toward a complete online inventory of our holdings. Electronic or hardcopy reports of collection data are available to qualified professional and student researchers. Reports can be generated based on taxonomic, geographic, or temporal categories. Requests for additional data on specimens in the collection can be made to the Curator-in-Charge, Dr. Chris Beard.

Collection Facilities

Limited visitor space is available for qualified professional and student researchers to work in the Division of Vertebrate Paleontology. Because we host an average of 70 visitors (for about 200 visitor days) a year in the division, it is necessary to make arrangements in advance with Curator-in-Charge, Dr. Chris Beard.

The collection is housed in Dyche Hall and Lippincott Annex as well as the BRC-West. In the BRC-West, the fossil fish and Natural Trap Cave collections, as well as over-sized dinosaur material, are housed in a newly renovated facility equipped with state-of-the-art climate, pest, and security controls on a high-density storage system. Specimens are protected by an overhead sprinkler system and UV-shielded lighting. Tours of the collection storage facility may be arranged by contacting Curator-in-Charge, Dr. Chris Beard. 

Accession and Deaccession policies

Policies for acquisition and deletion of specimens in Vertebrate Paleontology collections follow those of the Biodiversity Institute, and the overall roles and missions of the BI within the University of Kansas, the world-wide paleontological community and its public. The general features of these policies are as follows:

  • Within Vertebrate Paleontology areas of focus, species and specimens are accepted with no geographic or taxonomic restrictions.
  • Priorities for acquisition are: first, to strengthen collection areas in which Vertebrate Paleontology has current specialization and/or recognized historical strength; second, to broaden the comparative base of existing collections; third, to obtain collections of a general nature within the broad interests of Vertebrate Paleontology and the University of Kansas.
  • Specimens will remain in the collections as long as they retain their physical integrity, authenticity, and relevance for the purposes of Vertebrate Paleontology and the University of Kansas. 
  • Deaccessioning may take place through: a) gifts and exchanges (small exchanges are routine in vertebrate paleontology); and, b) removal to the teaching collection or disposal of poorly documented or irreparably damaged specimens.

Exchange Policy

Vertebrate Paleontology is aware that one of the most effective ways to improve the comparative base of collections, and their potential as a research resource, is through exchanges of specimens. This has the great advantage that the research and comparative value of both collections involved in the exchange is enhanced. Consequently, Vertebrate Paleontology welcomes exchanges of identified and properly documented material, which will help improve the comparative base of our collection.

Vertebrate Paleontology will also consider accepting properly documented but unprepared material that is within our research and collection growth goals. The details of such arrangements must be made individually between institutions and are likely to vary depending on the circumstances. However, we would expect that such an exchange would be to the substantial benefit to both institutions and/or collections that were involved.

Destructive Sampling

Techniques for extracting usable DNA and isotopic analysis samples from vertebrate fossil specimens have advanced to the point that samples from destructive sampling of specimens are increasingly included in systematic studies. KU Division of Vertebrate Paleontology operates under the general philosophy such that destructive sampling should occur only when non-destructive options have been exhausted or do not exist. Because destructive sampling requires irreparable damage to the specimen, only small requests will be considered. Such requests from the KU collection should be directed to Curator-in-Charge, Dr. Chris Beard.