Vertebrate Paleontology Collection Access & Policies

The KU Vertebrate Paleontology 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 division approval. 

For collection visits and loan requests, please email Collection Manager, Megan Sims at Please see specific additional information below on collection, loan and cast policies. 

The catalog data for most specimens in the collection is available via the Specify web portal

Collection Policies

Visits to the collection and loan requests should be coordinated and scheduled via email with the Collection Manager, Megan Sims at

All loans require final approval from the Curator, Dr. Chris Beard. The Collection Manager will keep researchers informed about the status of loan issuance.

Requests for exchange will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Casts are preferentially exchanged in most instances. See also Casting Policies. 

The KU Vertebrate Paleontology collection’s acronym for publication is KUVP.

Authors must provide the division with one copy of each publication citing KUVP specimens. This will be housed in the division’s research library and the citation will be added to the specimen records.

Inquiries about donating to the collection should be emailed to the Collection Manager, Megan Sims at

Any inquiries which do not pertain to visits, loans, or collection-related matters should be directed to the Curator, Dr. Chris Beard. Email

Loan Policies

Loan requests should be emailed to the Collection Manager, Megan Sims All loans require final approval from the Curator, Dr. Chris Beard. The Collection Manager will keep researchers informed about the status of loan issuance.

Investigators are encouraged to visit the collections to undertake specimen examination for large amounts of material.

Specimens are loaned to research institutions through a researcher. The institution is responsible for the care and maintenance of all specimens under their care during the period of the loan and for the safe return of all materials. Student, post-doctoral fellows or emeritus faculty require endorsement by a supervising or responsible faculty member.

Loans are typically made for a period of one year and should be returned promptly at the end of that period.

Extensions of loans can be requested before the loan return date and will be individually evaluated. The loan duration can vary depending on the type of analysis being conducted (scanning, personal examination, etc.) or material loaned (inclusion of types, etc.)

Name, address (physical street address for international FedEx shipments), phone number and email of responsible parties. This is required for both shipped and hand-carried loans.

Brief description of research question or objectives. Must include specimen examination methods and/or preparation methodology, if applicable.

List of specimens. Please search relevant collection using the KU Vertebrate Paleontology Specify database or aggregator (GBIF [hyperlink], iDigBio [hyperlink]) and provide catalog numbers requested.

Request for destructive sampling, if applicable.

Request for imaging, x-ray, CT scanning, if applicable.

Specimen loan requests will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Size of loan- number of specimens and total weight.
  • Evaluation of research question or objectives.
  • Inclusion of type material, fragile or rare specimens- in these cases, KUVP may attempt to loan casts in lieu of the real specimens. If the borrower accepts a loan of casts, then the borrower may be subject to fees which cover the materials and labor necessary to produce the cast(s) at KU prior to loan issuance.
  • Special requests.
  • Condition of material.
  • Any planned destructive sampling- final approval of destructive analysis on federally owned specimens is given by the appropriate government agency
  • Previous record of borrower. If an investigator already has a large amount of material on loan, we may request a return before further material can be loaned. Previous record of delinquent loans will also be taken into consideration.
  • Priority use of material.

Specimens should be handled and stored with the utmost care and according to professional collections standards and best practices.

A copy of the loan invoice should be signed and dated by the investigator upon receipt of the material and returned to the division (mail or emailed PDF). Any discrepancies or specimen conditions should be noted.

All labels and other documentation should be retained with the specimens at all times. Any taxonomic changes or destructive sampling (if approved) should be recorded on a label and included with the specimens.

Specimens should not be destructively sampled without express written permission of KUVP. Final approval of destructive analysis on federally owned specimens is given by the appropriate government agency. Some samples for destructive analysis are gifted and no material is required to be returned.

Specimens may only be used for the purpose outlined in the request. Any additional investigations outside of this scope require additional approval from the Collection Manager and the Curator.

Specimens on loan may not be transferred or re-loaned to a third party or cataloged into another collection without express written permission of KUVP.

No specimens, media, or derivatives, including casts, may be used for commercial purposes without express written permission. This includes publication, licenses, patents or commercial products.

Copies of all media generated from specimens (images, x-rays, CT scans, audio recordings, etc.) are required to be lodged with the division.

CT Scans should be uploaded to MorphoSource and links lodged with the division. Media associated and available with specimens, or generated by investigators, may not be downloaded, published, saved, shared or used without express written permission of the division, should credit the division (or original creator if applicable) and be captioned with the catalog number using Darwin Core triplet format.

The Collection Manager can send instructions for how to properly transfer the appropriate ownership to the KUVP team in MorphoSource.

All specimens examined for publication should be cited using the internationally accepted Darwin Core triplet of Institution code (KU), collections code (VP) and catalog number. Addition of unique identifiers, if present, is also encouraged.

A copy of all publications resulting from examination of KUVP specimens should be sent to the Collection Manager once published.

Casting Policies

Requests to produce a mold and cast of a loaned specimen must be approved by both the Collection Manager (email and Curator (email prior to molding.

Any molds produced by the borrowing institution must be returned with the rest of the specimens on loan.

The cast may be lodged in the borrowing institution’s research, reference, or teaching collection.

Any display or commercial use of such casts requires written approval from the Collection Manager, Curator, KU Biodiversity Institute administration, and potentially KU Legal Counsel. Some uses may require a signed contract between the two parties.