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UPDATE: Two participants in a weeklong research program, which the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the U.S. Forest Service jointly sponsored, discovered the pelvis of a Brontothere last summer. A Brontothere is a large rhino-like mammal from 35 million years ago. The pelvis is a visually spectacular bone, measuring approximately one and a half feet by three feet. The pelvis - and other bones found at the northeastern Colorado site earlier this year - are thought to be from the same animal. The other bones include a complete skull, a lower jaw bone, several limb bones and neck vertebrae. This is the most complete Brontothere pelvis found at the site, which is thought to be a 35-million-year-old water hole for mammals. Animals are thought to have died around the water source and then carnivores scavenged the site.
Significance of the discovery:
Finding a fossilized pelvis and a partial skull is very rare. There are many kinds of Brontothere. Finding this pelvis and partial skull will allow researchers to uncover critical information about which of these animals lived in the area millions of years ago. Researchers are currently analyzing the fossils.

The Collections and Research Division is responsible for conducting research, preserving and ensuring proper use of the Museum's collections, and reviewing the scientific content of all exhibits and information produced by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Interested in becoming certified to work in our paleontology lab or collect with a group of fellow enthusiasts on a Museum dig? Or how about simply learning more about paleontology? Courses taught by Museum curators and associates are available to adults, ages 17 and older. For more information on the program, click here.

The Museum's collections include more than 650,000 objects, curated in the departments of Anthropology, Earth Sciences, and Zoology. Significant holdings include the original Folsom point and related archaeological specimens; fossil plants; mammals and dinosaurs; important Southwestern and Plains archaeological materials; cultural objects in the Crane Native American collection; extensive ornithology and mammal collections from the western interior; and significant gold and mineral specimens from around the world.

The Library/Archives is a repository for important historical documents and photographs, and holds both scientific and popular publications for use by Museum members, visiting researchers, and the general public.

The Conservation Department ensures that all collections are properly preserved.

The Publications Department produces popular and scientific publications on science and natural history topics for adults and children. Periodic scientific papers provide information on collections, results of Museum research, and scientific information on regional natural history.


The mission of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences is to explore and document the evolution of the physical and biological components of the earth and its place in the universe, and to facilitate understanding and protection of our planet and its record of the past.

The department has five curators in the disciplines of vertebrate paleontology, paleobotany/invertebrate paleontology, geology, and space sciences, with collections maintained by a collections manager. The collections have strengths in Mesozoic and Cenozoic vertebrates and plants from the Western Interior of North America. Geology collections hold specimens of most mineral species in the Rocky Mountains and others throughout the world. Meteorites and rocks are also represented. The Schlessman Family Preparation Laboratory is a state-of-the-art facility staffed with two full-time preparators and a host of volunteers. It is part of the
Prehistoric Journey exhibit. Staff conduct field work and research throughout the Western Interior, and have also developed international collaborative projects.

36,000 vertebrate fossils (including 52 primary type specimens)
35,000 plant and invertebrate fossils (including 6 type specimens)
30,000 rocks, minerals, and meteorites

Departmental Initiatives and Highlights:
Prehistoric Journey, a cutting-edge, award-winning exhibit on the history of life, has been seen by more than one million visitors since its opening in
October 1995.

Coors Mineral Hall features the Alma King, one of the largest known
crystals of rhodochrosite and the rhodochrosite crystal wall, an 8-square-foot
natural cavity with more than 140 rhodochrosite crystals in their natural

The Certification Program in Paleontology offers a series of courses that allow interested adults to learn and practice paleontology. The program has more than one hundred graduates who are now working with professional paleontologists at DMNS and elsewhere to collect, prepare, curate, and study fossils.


Richard K. Stucky, Chief Curator and Curator of Paleontology
[email protected]
Ph.D., 1982, University of Colorado at Boulder, Anthropology (Vertebrate Paleontology)

Research interests:
Evolutionary relationships and ecology of Cenozoic mammals

Recent publications/exhibits:
Prehistoric Journey: A History of Life on Earth (with Kirk R. Johnson)
Mammalian Evolutionary Paleoecology (edited with Serge Legendre)

Russell Wm. Graham, Department Chair and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology
[email protected]
Ph.D., 1976, University of Texas at Austin

Research interests:
Evolution and biogeography of Quaternary mammal communities

Recent publications:
Graham, R. W. 1997. The spatial response of mammals to Quaternary climate changes. IN Past and Future Rapid Environmental Changes: the Spatial and Evolutionary Responses of Terrestrial Biota. B. Huntley, W. Cramer, A. V. Morgan, H. C. Prentice, and A. M. Solomon (eds.),
NATO ASI Series 1: Global Environmental Change 47:153-162.

Semken, H. A., Jr. and R. W. Graham 1996. Paleoecologic and taphonomic patterns derived from correspondence analysis of zooarcheological and paleontological faunal samples, a case study from the North American prairie/forest ecotone. IN Neogene and Quaternary Mammals of the Palaearctic, A. Nadachowski and L. Werdelin, (eds.),
Acta Zoologica Cracoviensia 39:477-490.

Faunmap Working Group (Graham, R. W. and E. L. Lundelius, Jr. - co-directors) 1996. Spatial response of mammals to late Quaternary environmental fluctuations.
Science 272:1601-1606.

Graham, R.W., J.O. Farlow and J.E. Vandike 1996. Tracking ice age felids:
identification of tracks of Panthera atrox from a cave in southern Missouri, USA. PP. 331-345 IN
Morphology and Paleoecology of Late Cenozoic Mammals - Tributes to the Career of C.S. (Rufus) Churcher, K. M. Stuart and K. L. Seymour (eds.), University of Toronto Press, Toronto.

Kirk R. Johnson, Curator of Paleobotany and Invertebrate Paleontology
[email protected]
Ph.D., 1989, Yale University

Research interests:
Mesozoic and Cenozoic paleobotany and stratigraphy; Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary extinction, plant taphonomy

Recent publications:
Johnson, K. R. 1997. Hell Creek flora, pp. 300-302 in P. J. Currie and K. Padian, eds.,
The Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs, Academic Press, San Diego.

Johnson, K. R. 1996. Description of seven common plant megafossils from the Hell Creek Formation (Late Cretaceous: late Maastrichtian, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana).
Proceedings of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, series 3, vol. 3, pp. 1-48.

Johnson, K. R. and Richard Stucky 1995.
Prehistoric Journey: A History of Life on Earth. Roberts Rinehart Publishers and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Press.

Johnson, K. R. 1992. Leaf fossil evidence for extensive floral extinction at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, North Dakota, USA.
Cretaceous Research 13:91-117.

Jack A. Murphy, Curator of Geology
[email protected]
M.S., 1993, University of Northern Colorado

Research interests:
Historical geology, building stones, mineralogy, and meteorites

Recent publications:
Murphy, J. A. 1997.
Geology Tour of Denver's Capitol Hill Stone Buildings, Historic Denver.

Cobban, R. R., D. S. Collins, E. E. Foord, D. E. Kile, P. J. Modreski, and J. A. Murphy 1997.
Minerals of Colorado by Edwin B. Eckel. Fulcrum Publishing, Golden.

Murphy, Jack 1995.
Geology Tour of Denver's Buildings and Monuments,
Historic Denver.

Laura Danly, Curator of Space Sciences
[email protected]
Ph.D, University of Wisconsin (Astronomy)

Research interests: Studies of the halo of the Milky Way and most distant reaches of our galaxy.

Logan Ivy, Collections Manager
Ph.D., 1992, University of Colorado
[email protected]

Research interests:
Eocene mammals

Kenneth Carpenter, Chief Preparator
Ph.D., 1996, University of Colorado
[email protected]

Research interests:
Dinosaur ontogeny and systematics

Recent publications:
Carpenter, K. 1997. A giant coelophysid (Ceratosauria) theropod from the
Upper Triassic of New Mexico, USA.
Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und
, Abhandlungen, Stuttgart 205:189-208.

Carpenter, K. 1997. Ankylosaurs. IN The Complete Dinosaur, J. O.
Farlow and M. K. Brett-Surman (eds.), Pp. 307-316, Indiana University
Press, Bloomington.

Carpenter, K. 1997.Dinosaurs as museum exhibits. IN
The Complete
, J. O. Farlow and M. K. Brett-Surman (eds.), Pp. 150-164,
Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

Kirkland, J. I., B. Britt, D. L. Burge, K. Carpenter et al. 1997. Lower to
Middle Cretaceous dinosaur faunas of the central Colorado Plateau: a key
to understanding 35 million years of tectonics, sedimentology, evolution
and biogeography.
Brigham Young University Geology Studies 42:69-103.

Bryan J. Small, Assistant Preparator
M. A., 1985, Texas Tech University
[email protected]

Research interests:
Paleozoic and Mesozoic vertebrates

Recent publications:
Small, B. J. 1997. A new procolophonid from the Upper Triassic of Texas,
with a description of tooth replacement and implantation.
Journal of
Vertebrate Paleontology

Kelly Goulette, Registrar
[email protected]
Collections and Research Division
M.A., 1996, University of Denver,
Anthropology with museum studies concentration

Collections and Research Division GIS Laboratory

The Geographic Information Systems Laboratory at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a state-of-the-art facility established by the Museum's Collections and Research Division to provide geospatial research support and mapping capabilities to its departments. Additionally, the GIS lab supports the ongoing development of collections GIS databases, which will be used for Museum research purposes. These include GIS storage of the Museum's specimen collections, and GIS databases for zoology field research, paleontology faunal studies, and anthropology excavation findings.

The lab is equipped with a Pentium 200 PC running Windows NT 4.0. The system is networked to the museum's LAN and is connected via a high-speed T1 connection to the Internet. Software used in the lab includes: ARC/INFO for NT and all its extensions, ArcView 3.0 with ArcView Spatial Analyst and Network Analyst, Paradox database software, and the Microsoft Office suite. A Calcomp 36-inch digitizing table and a HP 8.5-by-14-inch scanner are used for feature input. An HP E-sized plotter and HP laser-jet printer are used for high-resolution output.

Adrian Kropp, GIS and Database Specialist
[email protected]

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