The strength and significance of the FLMNH Invertebrate Paleontology (IP) Collection resides in the extensive amount of material collected within the last 50 years from over 6,000 sites around Florida, the southeastern U.S., and the circum-Caribbean.
These collections are unique in that they represent many localities no longer accessible because of rapid regional land development. They are also a significant national research resource that serves as the basis for an active and productive IP Research Program at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida.Search the IP Collection
The FLMNH IP Collection contains five principal components: a large Systematic Collection (70%), a smaller Stratigraphic Collection (25%), a modest Teaching Collection (2%), the Type and Figured Collection (2%) and the Micropaleontology Collection (1%). Each collection consists of uncurated as well as curated specimen lots. Curated lots have been fully identified, labeled, numbered, and cataloged, and are organized in a phylogenetic or stratigraphic sequence. The portion of the cataloged IP collections that has been computerized (185,000 lots), averages 11.75 specimens per lot. At present, the formed Systematic Collection (TX) contains 128,466 lots (~ 1.51 million specimens) arranged in phylogenetic sequence. Phyla are organized by family in monographic order and genera and species are filed in alphabetical order under family.
Specimens in the Stratigraphic Collection (ST) are accessioned with specific stratigraphic data recorded. Specimen lots are then filed in proper stratigraphic sequence. Compared to the Systematic Collection (TX), a far smaller proportion of the specimen lots in the Stratigraphic Collection (ST) have been identified and cataloged (46,201 lots). This situation will be rectified as time and staffing permit. As identification proceeds, representative specimens from large, stratigraphically collected lots are often transferred to the Systematic Collection (TX) for completeness of taxonomic coverage.
Approximately 83% of the IP collection consists of specimens from the SE U.S.A., 15% from the circum-Caribbean and 2% from elsewhere. Geologically, 70% of the Florida fossils are of Pliocene and Pleistocene age representing the richly fossiliferous late Neogene (e.g., Tamiami Formation (including Pinecrest Beds) and the Jackson Bluff, Intracoastal, Caloosahatchee, and Nashua formations). Eocene material collected in central to northern Florida (e.g., Avon Park Formation and Ocala Limestone) and Oligocene and Miocene fossils from around the state (e.g., Marianna and Suwannee Limestones, Parachucla, Peace River, Arcadia, Chipola, and Shoal River formations) are well represented. Only 2% of all specimen lots are from pre-Cenozoic deposits. Hence, the major strength of the collection lies in Cenozoic fossils of southeastern U.S.A. and the circum-Caribbean. Nearly three-fourths of the fossil taxa are mollusks. Other less numerous phyla are more evenly represented.
The entire IP collection (cataloged and uncataloged) consists of nearly 450,000 specimen lots. This number is probably accurate to within +/- 5,000 lots, as some material remains unsorted. A conservative estimate would place the total number of fossil specimens in the IP collection at the FLMNH at about 5.3 million. As indicated, the number of uncataloged lots outnumber the cataloged lots. This reflects both continuous acquisition of material over long periods prior to 1986 when little curation occurred, an active IP field program that began in 1986, and the arrival of numerous, sizable donations (e.g., University of Alabama’s Maxwell Smith Collection, Florida State University’s Geology Department Collection, Rollins College’s Beal-Maltbie Collection, the Florida Geological Survey Collection, Tulane University’s E. & H. Vokes Collection, and the collections of Paul and Thomas McGinty, Muriel Hunter and Joe Banks, Victor Zullo, Ernest and Evelyn Bradley, Howard and Miriam Schriner, Jules DuBar, Richard Petit, Sue Stephens, Mary Palmer, Lyle Campbell, Joe Carter and William Lyons).
Presently, the FLMNH IP Collection is known to contain ~ 11,300 type and figured specimens that are segregated into separate, locked cabinets. All pertinent literature and citations accompany the cataloged type material in these cabinets. The number of type and figured specimens will rise considerably when all transferred collections are integrated into the IP holdings and the remaining uncurated material is cataloged.
In 2017, the Florida Museum of Natural History marked its 100th anniversary as the state’s official natural history museum. As part of the centennial celebration, the Florida Museum created an extraordinary exhibit exploring the key role museum collections play in telling the story of life on Earth.
Rare, Beautiful & Fascinating: 100 Years @FloridaMuseum celebrated the Museum’s rich history and featured objects that reveal stories about everything from human health to prehistoric life to invasive species. Each Museum collection was asked to contribute its most interesting items and share the stories that make them special.
Though the physical exhibit is closed, the companion website remains online, providing an opportunity to experience the Florida Museum’s most treasured specimens.