Active Research: Field Work


Burpee staff and crew members continue to venture out to Montana and Utah each summer on paleontology research expeditions in search of new dinosaur fossil discoveries, and the trips are open to the public! This past field season, nearly 60 fossil enthusiasts joined our crew, with participants ranging from high school students to retirees, bringing with them a diverse range of life experiences and skills to the team.


Paleontology Collections

The Paleontology Collections are comprised of over 30,000 cataloged specimens or suites of specimens, collected from all over North America. They are an outstanding asset of the museum and include rare type and figured specimens. The paleontology collections are considered by many leading authorities to be scientific treasures of national and international significance. The paleontology collections are divided into plant, invertebrate and vertebrate specimens. Highlights include an extensive collection of Mazon Creek fossils (including fossil plants, invertebrates and vertebrates) of Pennsylvanian age (300 million years old) and a diverse collection of Ordovician (455 million years old) invertebrate fossils from Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Burpee Museum also houses an extensive collection of fossil vertebrates from the late Cretaceous (65-67 million years ago) Hell Creek Formation of Southeastern Montana and Morrison Formation (late Jurassic in age) of Southeastern Utah. Burpee Museum also houses a collection of fossil vertebrates from the classic White River Badlands of South Dakota.


Natural History Collections

Burpee Museum of Natural History maintains a diverse permanent collection comprised of over 100 thousand Paleontology, Geology, Biology and Anthropology specimens which are housed within the Robert Solem Wing of Burpee Museum along with our very own Herbarium. The collections focus on the natural history of the Rock River Valley region, but contain comparative material from all over North America and the world. Many specimens from Burpee Museum’s permanent collections have been cited in scientific and popular literature. The collections are available for study to qualified researchers. Burpee Museum’s Collections and Research staff are working to develop a world class collection to be used for education, exhibition and research.


Active Research


Skilled paleontologists including Thomas Carr, Mark Goodwin, Thomas Holtz, Holly Woodward, et al. have aided in the discovery dinosaurs (ex: Jane, Homer, Pearl), and continue their research on each.

Dr. Thomas Carr 

Dr. Thomas Carr, Associate Professor of Biology at Carthage College and noted Tyrannosaurus rex expert, continues his research on Jane. Dr. Carr is currently writing a “bone by bone” description of Jane and comparing her to other tyrannosaurs.  He will be submitting this publication to a special Tyrannosaur Volume that is being edited by Dr. Peter Makovicky, Field Museum of Chicago.
Follow Dr. Carr’s blog on Jane here!


Dr. Mark Goodwin 

Dr. Mark Goodwin, Assistant Director of University of California’s Museum of Paleontology and noted Triceratops expert, continues his research and work on Homer.  There has never been an extensive description on a Triceratops of this growth stage and Dr. Goodwin (along with Scott Williams and Josh Mathews) is writing a ‘bone by bone’ description that will be published in the Journal of Paleontology.
Learn more on Mark Goodwin here!


Dr. Thomas Holtz, Jr. 

Dr. Thomas Holtz, Jr., Senior Lecturer at University of Maryland and noted Theropod expert, continues his research on Pearl, our newly found oviraptor. He has several extensive publications, especially on tyrannosaurids and other theropod dinosaurs. Dr. Holtz wrote the book Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages and is the author or co-author of the chapters “Saurischia”, “Basal Tetanurae”, and “Tyrannosauroidea” in the second edition of The Dinosauria. He has also been consulted as a scientific advisor for the Walking With Dinosaurs BBC series.
Learn more on Tom Holtz here!