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The University of Texas at Austin

The Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory (NPL) is known for its rare and important specimens with a type and figured collection of over 22,000 specimens, and for its innovative approaches to the management of an unconventional collection.  The NPL was founded in 1999 to provide a unified hub for the development of this vast repository of over 4 million specimens drawn from a wide array of geological research. It is the fifth largest collection in the United States. The focus of the NPL is invertebrate and paleobotanical fossils but these are complemented by a wealth of recent marine, freshwater and terrestrial specimens, and an extensive rock, mineral and impact-related collection.

Specimens primarily derive from the research projects of UT faculty, research scientists, and students, but have been supplemented with donations from other institutions, both by choice and as orphaned collections. Unique historic collections stem from the early Geological Surveys of the State of Texas. Additional specimens have been donated by industry and by individuals who wish their collections to be available in perpetuity for research and education. Current accessions encompass sizable contributions from the ongoing studies of NPL research fellows, who are formally attached to several institutions or organizations outside of Texas.

The repository includes specimens ranging in age from the Precambrian to the recent (Holocene) with  strong Paleozoic, Cretaceous and Paleogene/Neogene components. Taxonomic emphasis includes, echinoderms, brachiopods, molluscs, corals and sponges. Geographic spread is global with about 60% of the collection deriving from Texas. Substantial holdings come from Mexico, Europe and Australia

Sponsorship of research and development at NPL has been provided by the National Science Foundation, the Geology Foundation of The University of Texas at Austin, Texas, the Seashore Fund of the College of Natural Sciences, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Susan Vaughan Foundation.

Contact Information

The Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab does not identify or conduct analyses on possible meteorites or tektites. If you believe that you are in possession of either a meteorite or tektite, we suggest that you contact others near where you are located, such as a local gem and mineral club.

Liath Appleton
Collections & Loans

Lisa Boucher
Lab & Volunteers
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Site Last Modified: May 16, 2024