The earliest invertebrate paleontology collections at the University of Kansas date back to the late 1860s as members of the newly established university began amassing fossil collections. These initial collections consisted primarily of upper Paleozoic and Cretaceous invertebrate faunas from Kansas and by the 1930s were housed in Lindley Hall. The collections continued to grow over the following decades and became a key fixture in Lindley Hall and the Department of Geology. However, in 1968, the collections became independent of the Department of Geology with the establishment of the KU Museum of Invertebrate Paleontology (KUMIP). The KUMIP underwent another change in administration when in 1994 it became part of the larger KU Biodiversity Institute (BI). Today the KUMIP collections remain part of the BI and are housed in two buildings: the type and figured collections remain in Lindley Hall; and the general collections are located in our west campus collections space in the old University Press Building.
Late 1860s – Collection begins as part of the Department of Geology
1884 – First paper featuring a KUMIP specimen published
1948 – R.C. Moore begins work on the “Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology”
1960 – First attempt to separate the KUMIP from the Department of Geology
1962 – Richard Benson becomes the first KUMIP curator
1968 – KUMIP collection becomes an independent unit on campus
1994 – KUMIP collection becomes part of KU Biodiversity Institute
2006 – General collection moved from Lindley Hall to west campus
Raymond C. Moore. Moore was Chairman of the Department of Geology from 1920-1939 and State Geologist at the Kansas State Geological Survey from 1916-1945. He was named a Solon E. Summerfield Distinguished Professor in 1958, authored more than 300 papers, and won many international awards. One of his greatest achievements was establishing the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology in 1948. For additional details see D.F. Merriam’s biography of R.C. Moore.
Norman D. Newell. Newell’s type specimens of Pennsylvanian bivalves were early additions to the KUMIP collection. Newell received a master’s degree from KU in 1931 and went on to complete his doctorate at Columbia University. He latter became the Curator of Invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Richard Benson, Curator, 1960-1967. Benson, an osctracod specialist and Assistant Professor of Geology, was the first curator at the KUMIP. During his time at KU, Benson added an extensive collection of radiolarians from the Indian Ocean to the KUMIP holdings. In 1981, he left KU for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to become their Senior Scientist, Curator of Ostracoda, and the chairman of the Paleobiology Department.
Albert Rowell, Curator, 1967-1981. In 1964, Rowell oversaw the KUMIP collections while on sabbatical from the University of Nottingham. He later returned in 1967 to permanently serve as curator. Rowell went on to spend eight field seasons in Antarctica between 1984 and 1996. As a result of his fieldwork, the KUMIP has the largest holding of Antarctic trilobites in the world. His research on lingulate brachiopods also greatly increased the KUMIP holdings in this area. He is now senior Curator Emeritus and emeritus Professor of Geology.
Richard A. Robison, Emeritus Professor of Geology. Robison and his students contributed greatly to the Cambrian material in the type and general KUMIP collections, especially trilobites and arthropods. Notable additions were the result of his monographic revision of the Ptychagnostidae of North America and Greenland and his study of the genus Doryagnostus. His work with Briggs, Conway Morris and others describing Middle Cambrian soft bodied organisms provide a glimpse into the diversity of that age.
Roger Kaesler, Curator, 1981-2006 As curator, Kaesler’s contributions to the collection included ostracods and fusulinids from the upper Paleozoic of the Midwest. Kaesler also served as the fourth editor of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology (publishing over twelve volumes). He was also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Paleontological Society, and the Geology Society of America. Roger sadly passed away in 2007 after a long illness.
Bruce Lieberman, Curator, 2007-present, Professor of Geology. Lieberman formally took over the position of curator in 2007. He has described a significant collection of late Middle Cambrian trilobites brought back from the Neptune Range of the Pensacola Mountains in a recent monograph. He also worked with, and helped add to, the types in the division’s collections of Cambrian soft-bodied faunas. Further, he has expanded the division’s holdings of trilobites in general and Cambrian trilobites in particular.
Paul Selden, Adjunct Curator, Director Paleontological Institute. Selden is a Gulf-Hedberg Distinguished Professor of Invertebrate Paleontology and director of the Paleontological Institute. His work focuses on the paleobiology of Arthropoda, specifically Chelicerates and Myriapoda.
Michael Engel, Curator of Entomology. Engel works with Invert Paleontology on fossil insects and insects in amber.