About the PRI Collection

PRI houses one of the eight largest American collections of fossils and Recent shells, with over 2 million specimens. Many of these specimens represent invertebrates - animals without backbones. The collection represents a staggering array of living things; from the tiny shells of single-celled organisms to dinosaur bones and woolly mammoth teeth. Many of our specimens are especially valuable, because they are from localities now destroyed or unavailable for study today. Among those specimens are over 30,000 type and figured specimens, the 5th largest such collection in the United States.

In 1994-95 the invertebrate fossil and Recent mollusk collections of Cornell University were transferred to PRI on long term loan.

Cenozoic mollusks in Central New York?

Although sea shells from the Cenozoic Era (from 64 million years ago to present) are not found in the central New York, the PRI collection is particularly rich in both Cenozoic and modern snail and clam shells, due to the research and collecting efforts of PRI's founder, Dr. Gilbert Harris. Dr. Harris and his students specialized in these interesting animals.

The fossils of New York State

PRI's collection of New York State fossils is large and growing rapidly. New and rare local fossils enter the institution every week, obtained during staff expeditions and from the generous donations of collectors and researchers.

What's a type collection?

The most important collection at PRI is the type and figured specimen collection. Type specimens are those few fossils picked to show the most important features of a newly named species, and must be carefully examined when naming newly discovered fossils. The type and figured collection at PRI numbers over 33 thousand specimens, which makes it one of the five largest type collections in the United States.



The Paleontological Research Institution
1259 Trumansburg Road • Ithaca, NY 14850 • phone: 607-273-6623 • fax: 607-273-6620

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