Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Collection Spotlight: NMNH Vertebrate Paleontology

Fig.1. Hatcher the Triceratops and Stan the T. rex are center stage in “The Last American Dinosaurs” at the National Museum of Natural History (Credit: Donald E. Hurlbert, Smithsonian Institution).

In this new article series, we will highlight interesting collections and the people involved with them. Last week we spoke with Dr. Hans-Dieter Sues, curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Here is what he had to say about this intriguing (and old) collection.

If you wanted to know Dr. Sues’ favorite collection specimen, he would probably stop you from finishing the question.

“This would be like asking, ‘Which of your children do you love most?’” he wrote in an email. “We have so many wonderful and important fossils that I cannot choose one particular specimen.”

Even if one were pressed to choose, the museum’s Department of Paleobiology holds one of the largest vertebrate paleontology collections in the world, with many type specimens. Among the over 1,500 cataloged dinosaur specimens are the subjects of the new exhibit “The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World.” This exhibit focuses on the extinction of dinosaurs, 66 million  years ago. Instead of simply showing dinosaurs and where they came from, “The Last American Dinosaurs” examines the extinction event from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. What happened to the environment 66 million years ago and how did it recover? Did other species die off or flourish? Answering these questions are important for understanding this ancient event.

Just as this exhibit shifted to show the ecosystem-wide changes, the collection of vertebrate paleontology focuses less on a purely encyclopedic view of animals. Sues called the encyclopedic emphasis “impractical” and said that the collection has become more centered on the curator’s research. Curators also receive and maintain specimens or collections which have been donated by other institutions.

Indeed, the curators work to maintain collections and complete their own research. The Department of Paleobiology has work being done in a wide range of topics, from the evolution of plant-insect interactions to the history of whales. Sues is interested in the evolutionary history and diversity of late Paleozoic and Mesozoic reptiles, amphibians, and mammal precursors.

Like other collections-holding institutions, Sues cites money and personnel the main problems his department faces. Nevertheless, a goal for the collection is to make it more accessible by digitizing important specimens. A digitized dinosaur can reach a diverse audience, from students to researchers or possible future donors. Another goal for Sues and the department is to maintain specimens for long-term preservation and accessibility. After all, we want these fossils to survive for a little while longer.


The relatively new discipline which combines natural science with earth sciences, and current studies with fossil studies, to study molecular evolution and evolutionary history of life.
vertebrate paleontology
Sub-field of paleontology which studies the behavior, reproduction, and appearance of extinct vertebrate animals through fossils.
type specimens
The specimen on which a new species was founded and represents the ultimate standard for all subsequent comparisons


  1. The collection is really amazing!This digital dinosaur is really helpful for student to research on dinosaurs. All visitors expectation will satisfy here. Thanks a lot for sharing this kind information. Check out best essay writing service

  2. Do your best to explain to your audience why you have picked up this very topic. Remember that a capstone project is a perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate your perfect research skills and impress your professor by your responsible attitude to work. If you are ready with the topic and the outline, feel free to contact tthis writing service

  3. Hello! If you see that you need any writing help then you can visit one cool writing service that can help you with the essay even with the mcdonald's introduction essay I hope it can solve your problems quickly.

  4. I love collecting the most interesting news I have found on the web. I must admit I am dependent on the news. When everybody starts their morning with a cup of cffee I start it from another bookmark with news. I also check the news in writing on to write perfect assignments.

  5. Hello This is instructive blog a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing. We are likewise giving Lahore Escorts . You realize recently wedded and unsatisfied little youngsters join autonomous Lahore call young ladies and are known as housewife accompanies in Lahore.

  6. After you have realized that you feel fine with the term of easy loans and the amount of money offered by the Payday Loans lender, the next step should be to check out if you are able to meet the requirements for the Easy $500 Payday Loans online. They are not many compared to those requirements that you may face applying for a loan from the traditional bank.

  7. The world collection of dinosaur remains one of the most interesting exhibits is the dinosaur mummy. The fossilized duck-billed dinosaur print is one of the most complete specimens ever recovered. Therefore, the story tells a lot about giants of animals, which are interesting to us as something unknown and so distant. Therefore, we live for today and we have a great future ahead of us. We also try to learn a lot, understand and manage to fulfill all the responsibilities, as a student or a worker. And we know that a far-reaching company here will always help us in fulfilling our desires as, excellent academic performance, regardless of the complexity of the task.

  8. the exhibition hall's Division of Paleobiology holds one of the biggest vertebrate fossil science Buy Essay Online Uk assortments on the planet, with many kind examples.

  9. Once the investor withdraws his capital from the market, it becomes impossible to bring the investor back to the market. Maintaining their satisfaction is essential to keep investors in the market, and for that, the government should intervene and make laws that protect investors' money. Cheap Dissertation Writing Service

  10. Hi....
    Birds collections from the Department of Vertebrate Zoology are displayed at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.
    You are also read more Jio Tower Near Me

  11. A very detailed explanation was provided on this topic. I really appreciate your news collection in this world. The collection is very good and unique. Keep sharing more information about this article. Now it's time to get taxi Manchester Airport for more information.

  12. Thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward to more post. Nice post ! I love its your site after reading ! thanks for sharing. I really appreciate your news collection in this world. The collection is very good and unique. The collection is really amazing!
    Divorce Lawyers Spotsylvania VA
    Divorce Lawyers Great Falls VA
    Divorce Lawyers CulpeperVA

  13. While the concept might seem straightforward, mastering the art of composite veneers training demands specific skills. Without proper training, the risk of errors and subpar results increases, emphasizing the need for dentists to undergo specialized training.

  14. I've been using the carbonated bubble clay mask for a while now, and it's become an essential part of my skincare routine.