earth sciences

Paleontology & Geology Prep Labs

Earth Sciences Labs

The Department of Earth Sciences oversees several labs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The Schlessman Family Earth Sciences Laboratory is located within the Prehistoric Journey exhibition on the third floor of the museum and is visible to Museum guests. When exploring the gallery, guests have the opportunity to engage with volunteer preparators as they clean, stabilize, and conserve fossils collected by Museum researchers and staff. Additionally, the Museum houses two behind-the-scenes labs in the Avenir Collections Center—one used for fossil preparation of large specimens, such as horned dinosaurs and giant turtles, and the second used for molding and casting of vertebrate fossils.

The earth science labs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science are unique; in addition to lab staff, nearly 200 skilled volunteers prepare fossils and rock samples! Volunteers attend a training course to learn the basic methods and materials used in professional fossil preparation and are then part of the team that prepares specimens for Museum research, collections, and education. As a result of the many hours of volunteer time dedicated to the earth science labs, the Museum is able to prepare hundreds of fossils every year.


Staff

Natalie Toth, MS

Chief Preparator

Salvador Bastien

Fossil Preparator

Ian Miller, PhD

Director of Earth and Space Sciences, Associate Curator of Paleobotany

Tyler R. Lyson, PhD

Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology

David W. Krause, PhD

Senior Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology

Joseph Sertich, PhD

Associate Curator of Dinosaurs

Libby Couch

Business Support Specialist

James Hagadorn, PhD

Tim & Kathryn Ryan Curator of Geology

What We Are Working On

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! We work on real fossils collected by our team of researchers, staff, and volunteers. After the fossils are clean and stable, they will be integrated into the Museum’s collection for perpetuity.

Our paleontology team collects fossils across the Rocky Mountain region and the world. We conduct field work in areas like Colorado, North Dakota, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, and Madagascar! For more information on specific field projects, look at the Featured Projects linked above.

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