Dr. Tykoski and Dr. Contreras at Big Bend

Research and Collections

The Perot Museum research and collections teams work to understand the paleontological story of our region. From reconstructing ancient ecosystems to working out the evolutionary relationships of fossil plants and animals, the team is committed to the study and preservation of our natural history and heritage.

Our Projects
Tylosaurus fossils in Paleo Lab

Bones of an 80 million year old marine lizard in the Perot Museum Paleo Lab.


Ellie May

In summer 2014, an incredibly pristine and nearly complete Mammuthus columbi skeleton was excavated from a gravel pit in Ellis County. “Ellie May” has now made her way to her new permanent home in the Rees-Jones Dynamic Earth Hall on Level 3 of the Perot Museum, where she awaits your visit!


Cretaceous sauropod rib in North Texas creek bed

110 million year old dinosaur rib being excavated from a creek bed in North Texas.



Ellie May

Early Cretaceous dinosaurs


Dave Humphries, Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Ron Tykoski | Vice President of Science and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology

Dr. Tykoski oversees the Museum’s collections, research program, and the Gems & Minerals Hall. His research mainly focuses on the anatomy and evolutionary relationships of different reptile groups, from dinosaurs (including birds!) to crocodilians and beyond. From his undergraduate days at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, to graduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin, he’s spent years working with collaborators making discoveries and investigating paleontological questions from the southwest, Alaska, and Texas.


Dr. Dori Contreras | Curator of Paleobotany

Dr. Contreras oversees the Museum’s collections of fossil plants and runs an active program to discover new fossils that answer questions about how Earth’s vegetation has changed through time. She studied botany as an undergraduate at Texas State University and earned her PhD in Integrative Biology at the University of California Berkeley. Her research focuses mainly on plant communities of the southwestern US during the Mesozoic period (the age of dinosaurs). Additionally, she works with a worldwide network of collaborators to develop new digital technologies for studying the fossil record of plants and their environments.

Paleo Lab

The Perot Museum has some of the largest and most active fossil preparation labs in the region, staffed with a team of skilled fossil preparators and volunteers who work to extract and preserve fossils of plants and animals for research and exhibition.

  • Mariah Slovacek,  Paleo Lab Manager
  • Tabatha Gabay, Fossil Preparator
  • Brianna Smith, Fossil Preparator
Perot Museum Paleo Lab
Permian Fossils

Collections Staff

  • Karen Morton, Collections Manager
  • Devorah Hale, Collections Assistant

Submit Your Discovery

North Texas has a rich geological and paleontological history. Many of the specimens in the Museum’s collections were discovered by everyday folks who found something odd and wanted to have it identified. Our research staff can usually identify a specimen based on a few clear photographs.