Science Division News

Learn more about the latest news and discoveries from the Science Division

The Science Division grows and cares for a world-class natural history collection composed of 4.3 million artifacts and specimens, conducts scientific research with robust and diverse community participation, and conveys accurate, compelling stories that connect the past, present, and future. Our core scientific competencies are anthropology, earth sciences, health sciences, space sciences, and zoology. The Museum collections contain scientifically and culturally significant objects in archaeology, ethnology, geology, paleontology, health sciences, zoology and archives. While generally focused on the Rocky Mountain West, the collections also contain objects that bring the world to Denver and provide a broader intellectual and scientific context for the regional collections.

New Publication from Dr. David Krause

A Southern Hemisphere Find

Along with several colleagues from Australia, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology David Krause recently published a paper on an extremely rare record of a group of fossil mammals, multituberculates, in the southern supercontinent Gondwana. The record is based on a small (about 1.5" long) lower jaw retaining a single tooth assigned to the genus Corriebaatar from the Early Cretaceous of Australia. Multituberculates are arguably the most evolutionarily successful group of mammals to have ever existed and were extremely common (like rodents today) in the northern hemisphere, particularly in the Late Cretaceous of North America.  But their occurrence in the southern hemisphere is based on only a few specimens, all of them controversial in some way. The specimen described and analyzed in this paper is the most definitive "proof" of the existence of multituberculates in the southern hemisphere but also raises as many questions as it answers, mainly because the specimen represents the earliest known member of a specialized subgroup, the Cimolodonta.  Why and how that group was present in Australia at that time is a fascinating mystery!

Read it Here

Stucky Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund established

Richard Keith Stucky passed away on May 4, 2022, following a courageous battle with lung cancer.  It would be hard to overstate Richard Stucky’s impact on your Museum. During more than 25 years on staff, Stucky served as preparator, Earth sciences department head, curator of vertebrate paleontology, chief curator, vice president of research & collections, vice president of programs and curator of paleoecology & evolution.

Stucky and his wife, Barbara, have long supported the Museum financially and donated treasures to its collections. In 2016 they joined the Edwin Carter Legacy Society. Their trust provides for the establishment of a postdoctoral fellowship fund at the Museum that is modeled after a fund at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History of Pittsburgh. In 1982, Stucky was a Rea Postdoctoral Fellow at that museum.

In 2021, another generous Museum donor, Dolores Schlessman, was inspired to make a major gift in Stucky’s honor. After consulting with Richard and Barbara, Dolores’ gift established this fund immediately. Over time, distributions from the Stucky Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund will accumulate to support a Stucky Postdoctoral Fellow in the Science Division. The Museum is deeply grateful to Dolores Schlessman and to Richard and Barbara Stucky for this amazing circle of generous support.

Donate Now

New Publication from Dr. Tyler Lyson

Brawn before Brains

The discovery from Colorado Springs involves utilizing computed tomography scans of newly discovered Paleocene fossils, which led to the discovery that early placentals initially decreased their relative brain sizes because body mass increased at a faster rate. This discovery will lead more research into the area, which is fantastic news!

Read about it here

Recent Catalyst Articles

Spring 2022

Museum Treasures: Stewarding a New World-Class Fossil Collection

By Alexis Williams, Catherine Neie, Nicole Neu-Yagle and Dr. James Hagadorn

Museum Insider: Record Gift Supports Culturally Inclusive Conservation

By Dr. Stephen E. Nash and Jill Viehweg

Discover Science: Recovery Mission: France

By Dr. Michele Koons

On the Cover: Egyptian coffin lid fragment

Photograph by Rick Wicker

Read it Now

Winter 2021

Museum Treasures: The Jones-Miller Site Collection

By Dr. Stephen E. Nash and Carlton Shield Chief Gover

Discover Science: The W.S. Ranch Collection

By Dr. Erin Baxter

On the Cover: Liberian Harp

Photograph by Rick Wicker

2021 Outstanding Scientist Award

Congratulations Dr. James Hagadorn

The Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists is pleased to present Dr. James Hagadorn with its 2021 Outstanding Scientist Award in recognition of his outstanding and dedicated service to the RMAG and the scientific geological community.

Best Paper of 2021 Award

James Hagadorn led a Museum team of community scientists who were just awarded the 2021 Best Paper Award by the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists (RMAG). This paper, together with two others authored by Ginny Gent, Mark Longman and Hagadorn, focuses on understanding how one of the west’s most enigmatic sandstone units formed. This 90 million year old package of rocks, the Codell Sandstone and its equivalents, is spread across nearly eight states and hundreds of thousands of square miles, where it demarcates the largest ‘gap in time’ during the reign of the Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway. In Colorado it is an economically useful oil and gas reservoir and in other states it is a commonly used agricultural aquifer. Our working hypothesis for how this enigmatic sandstone formed is in Figure 37, and an image of the archetypal section of the rock appeared on the attached journal cover.

Read the Paper

New Gift to the Museum

$25 million for conservation of scientific collections

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science and its supporting organization, the DMNS Foundation, have received a $25 million gift from an anonymous donor. This is the largest gift in the institution’s 121-year history.

“We are amazed by the donor’s generosity and vision,” said George Sparks, Museum President & CEO. “The support will vastly expand the Museum’s capacity for collections conservation."

"Collections are treasures held in the public trust. Preserving them and making them accessible to source communities, scientists and the public has long been an institutional priority,” said Museum Director of Anthropology and Senior Curator of Archaeology Stephen E. Nash. “This unprecedented gift will take our work to another level, with the expertise and state-of-the-art analytical equipment needed to advance the field and train the next generation of conservation professionals from a wide range of backgrounds. It will position the Museum as a leader in culturally-inclusive object conservation in the Rocky Mountain region, nationally and internationally.”

Ten percent of the funds will go directly to the museum for initial staffing, equipment and launch activities, while 90% will establish an endowed fund at the DMNS Foundation. Annual distributions from the endowment will support the Museum’s conservation work over the long term.

Read the press release
Back To Top