Invertebrate Paleontology

The paleontology collection at the New York State Museum contains over 600,000 specimens.  Of those, approximately 17,000 are types* or have been figured in a publication.  The rest are housed stratigraphically by taxon and are important sources of information and subjects of study for researchers around the world. 

One of the most important aspects of our collection is its diversity.  Every major group of organism is represented from fish, to corals and trilobites.  Although most are from New York, we also have specimens from as far away as Brazil.  The first objects were accessioned into the collection in 1836 when what would eventually become the New York State Museum was first established.  Illustrious paleontologists who have overseen this collection over the years include James Hall, John Clarke, Rudolf Ruedemann, Winifred Goldring, and Donald Fisher.

Our collection continues to grow every year.  Some new material is collected and studied by in-house researchers.  Other fossil specimens are housed at the museum by scientists working on fossils from New York, and donations are occasionally accepted.

*A type specimen is an individual fossil or group of fossils that is chosen to represent a new species when it is first described.


History of this Collection: 

Although portions of the Paleontology collection were sold as a way to fund the publication of scientific reports during the later years of James Hall's tenure as State Paleontologist, the collection has regained its stature as a key repository for Paleozoic fossils. It has grown since 1900 through the research of staff paleontologists J. M. Clarke (sponges, cephalopods, eurypterids), R. Ruedemann (graptolites), Winifred Goldring (plants, echinoderms), R. H. Flower (cephalopods, trilobites), and D. W.Fisher (Cambrian-Devonian faunas). Cornell University's type fossil collection was acquired in the 1970's.