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The Paleontological Institute

The University of Kansas (KU) Paleontological Institute was founded by geologist and paleontologist Raymond C. Moore in 1946. Our mission is to work with the paleontological community to create, collect, publish, and disseminate expert vetted knowledge and information/data on invertebrate paleontology, broadly construed. As such, we especially focus on sharing morphological, taxonomic, systematic, stratigraphic, and biogeographic information/data on organisms comprising all the “invertebrate” phyla with a significant fossil record, as well as certain unicellular organisms, e.g., “Protoctista”, “Protista”, and Eubacteria/Archaea. The primary way we have done this is by producing and publishing the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology – a multi (53) volume encyclopedia of invertebrate paleontology.

This encyclopedia presents the knowledge derived and collected from large teams of internationally recognized, expert paleontologists. We help facilitate their work compiling, writing, and illustrating their knowledge for use by students and avocational and professional paleontologists for present and future generations. Further, we assemble that information into publishable form, and distribute it to libraries and individuals. The Treatise provides expert vetted data on the morphology, systematics, phylogeny, temporal, and spatial distribution of tens of thousands of fossil taxa that span hundreds of millions of years of geological time. The Paleontological Institute is a part of the KU Biodiversity Institute.

Each director of the Paleontological Institute has also served as editor of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology: R. C. Moore (1953–1969), Curt Teichert (1969-1978), Richard A. Robison (1978–1985), Roger L. Kaesler (1986–2007), Paul A. Selden (2007–2020), William I. Ausich (2020–2022) and Bruce S. Lieberman (2022–present). Starting in 1953 there have been 53 volumes published (with the next two volumes to be printed in 2023) consisting of more than 20,000 pages of text and more than 12,000 figures derived from the work of hundreds of professional paleontologists.

In addition to the Treatise, the Paleontological Institute also publishes the KU Paleontological Contributions.

Paleontological Contributions is an online-only, open-access, rapid publication journal that currently contains papers and articles published from 1947 to the present. It is a monographic journal that has published on the taxonomy, systematics and phylogeny of invertebrate, vertebrate, and plant fossil remains both from Kansas and beyond, and by KU researchers and those from other institutions both within and outside the United States. We have also produced special publications that cover various topics including stratigraphy, fossil collecting, and the history of paleontology and geology at KU.

Over the years we have significantly benefited from the support of various professional societies, and we especially acknowledge the Paleontological Society for their extensive and consistent support.