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"To encourage awareness and appreciation of the interplay of the biological, geological and environmental forces as they have shaped, are shaping, and will shape our world"
The Texas Natural Science Center encourages awareness of biological diversity through research, exhibits, and education/outreach and is made up of the Texas Memorial Museum, the Vertebrate Paleontology Lab, the Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab, and the Texas Natural History Collections. Our leading-edge research in the disciplines of paleontology, geology, biology, herpetology, ichthyology and entomology has amassed a collection of 5.7 million specimens. All exhibits and education/outreach programs are based on these specimens, most of which are from Texas and many of which are unique and irreplaceable. Programming spotlights dinosaurs and fossils, Texas wildlife, and gems and minerals.
The Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab houses the greater portion of the collections, about 4 million specimens. These include 'types' (specimens used to describe new species), a huge stratigraphic collection (specimens grouped by geological unit), and several systematic collections (grouped by the type of organism). Invertebrate fossils form the core of the collection but we have a substantial fossil plant collection, as well as meteorites, tektites, rocks, gems and minerals. There is a comparative collection of recent specimens (dry), largely marine and freshwater molluscs. The focus is on Texas (70%) with large collections from elsewhere in the USA, Mexico and other countries.
The Lab is an active environment with frequent loans to researchers and ongoing research projects providing new specimens. These new specimens, and a backlog of earlier collections, need to be curated. This process includes cleaning them, identifying them, adding their data to the databases, writing numbers on each one, generating labels for each specimen, imaging them and finally locating a place for their long term storage.
- Ann Molineux
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