For Immediate Release March 1, 2007

Paul Ramey, APR
Assistant Director, Marketing and Public Relations
Florida Museum of Natural History
(352) 846-2000, ext. 218,
Writer: DeLene Beeland

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History Invertebrate Paleontology collection is growing to a total of 4.5 million specimens thanks to a $281,865 National Science Foundation grant.

Awarded in late January, the money will be used to curate, computer catalog and geo-reference 500,000 specimens from four major collections acquired by the museum, said Florida Museum invertebrate paleontologist Roger Portell.

“This project will greatly expand the amount of data available to the general public,” Portell said. “We receive more than 3,500 online visits each month from fossil enthusiasts, students and researchers around the world who search our invertebrate paleontology database.”

Florida Museum Director and Invertebrate Paleontology Curator Douglas Jones and Portell are co-investigators on the grant. Once curated, some of the fossils may be used for outreach at the Florida Museum’s public education and exhibition hall.

The four collections include about 100,000 specimens collected in Florida through the Research Experience for Undergraduates program, also funded by NSF; a collection from Tulane University of 65,000 specimen lots (lots contain seven specimens, on average) and more than 500 type specimens, scientifically valuable because they are used to describe new species; a collection of about 3,500 specimen lots from atoll islands in Polynesia and donated by world-renowned coral-reef expert Gustav Paulay, also a researcher at the Florida Museum; and a collection of about 1,500 specimen lots from Seymour Island, Antarctica.

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The Florida Museum of Natural History is Florida’s state natural history museum, dedicated to understanding, preserving and interpreting biological diversity and cultural heritage. It is located near the intersection of Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road in the University of Florida Cultural Plaza in Gainesville. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Butterfly Rainforest admission is $8.50 for adults ($7.50 Fla. residents) and $4.50 for children ages 3-12. Prices subject to change. For more information, including directions and parking, call (352) 846-2000, or visit