Allosaurus and Stegosaurus
The vertebrate paleontology collection consists mainly of
Cenozoic mammals, Jurassic and Cretaceous Dinosaurs, Cretaceous
seaway fish and reptiles, and includes a number of complete
skeletons. The paleobotany collection consists mainly of
Cretaceous-Eocene leaves and is the second largest collection of
its kind in the nation. The invertebrate paleontology collection's
main strengths are Cambrian-Ordovician trilobites, Cretaceous
seaway mollusks, and Eocene insects. The gem and mineral collection
focuses on Colorado and includes a number of regional iconic
specimens. The micromount mineral collection is the second largest
in the nation and contains specimens from around the world. The
rock collection includes historical and building-stone collections.
The meteorite collection has samples from around the world with a
significant fraction from Colorado.
The collections in the Department of Earth Science date to the
founding of the Museum. Numerous important donations including the
Campion Gold, and the Museum's first field expedition, were crucial
to building the geological and paleontological collections in the
1910s and 20s. Between the 1930s and 1960s the Department's
collections were the focus of numerous major permanent exhibits on
fossils mammals, dinosaurs, and minerals. The Department's current
structure was developed in the late 1980s with the hiring of
Richard Stucky. The current staff represents the largest ever for
the Department and includes four curators.
Research in DES is specimen and field-based and focused on the
Rocky Mountain region. There are six active researchers in the
department who focus on Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossil plants and
mammals; Paleozoic and Mesozoic reptiles, dinosauromorphs and
dinosaurs; Paleozoic invertebrates; and stratigraphy and tectonic
evolution of Mesozoic and Cenozoic basins in the American West. All
DES researchers maintain active field programs.
The Earth Sciences Department strives to effectively engage the
general public and media. Efforts include citizen science, popular
talks, tours, and articles, science documentaries, and the
Paleontology Certification Program. In the last year, the Earth
Science Department volunteers have logged approximately 35,000
hours, and staff has given more than 100 popular talks and tours.
There have been more than 500 national and international news
articles on Department-related research and there have been
numerous national broadcasts by curators.
The Earth Sciences Department provides access to the more than
200,000 paleontological and geological specimens in the collections
to external researchers. Staff are active as editors with numerous
professional journals and as committee members or past presidents
of national organizations.
This Web-based collection of fossil plants from Colorado, Utah,
and Wyoming caters to paleobotanists. Identify your own fossils and
submit specimens to the Museum to be posted on the Web. Access
The Department of Earth Sciences (DES) focuses on specimen and field-based research in paleontology, paleoecology, and paleoclimatology of the Rocky Mountain region and the geology and mineralogy of Colorado. The department contains seven recognized collections: mineral micromounts; gems and minerals; rocks; meteorites; and fossil vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. These collections are the core of two permanent Museum exhibits: Prehistoric Journey and Coors Mineral Hall. There are currently 11 full and part-time staff in DES and nearly 240 volunteers working on research, collections, and in the Prehistoric Journey exhibit.
Tim and Kathryn Ryan Curator of Geology
Department Chair of Earth Sciences and Curator of Paleontology
Vice President of Research & Collections and Chief Curator
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology
Curator of Paleoecology & Evolution
Assistant Collections Manager
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