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.


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 an enormous collection of several thousand critical fossil casts.

Search the Collections

Information about the collections has recently been digitized and is available through Specify, a collections software program created at KU.

Type Specimen

About 550 type specimens are in the collection, including holotypes and paratypes. Four volumes of “Type and Figured Specimens of Fossil Vertebrates in the Collection of the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History” have been published as “Miscellaneous Publications”: Part I: Fossil Fishes (No. 73; 1982), Part II: Fossil Amphibians and Reptiles (No. 77; 1985), Part III: Fossil Birds (No. 78; 1986), Part IV: Fossil Mammals (No. 79; 1986). They include information on the specimen’s KUVP catalog number, geological age, locality, original collector(s), collecting date, original name, describer(s) and date of description, and original reference for the description.