Our paleontological collections focus largely on North Texas, but also include notable collections from other areas of the southwest and Alaska, as well specimens from around the world. The Museum is also a repository for fossils from lands managed by multiple Federal agencies. Some examples from the paleo collection are shown in the images below:
Texas Cretaceous marine invertebrates
Texas cretaceous vertebrates
Alaskan dinosaurs and other vertebrates
Texas Permian terrestrial vertebrates and plants
Ornithology, mammalogy, and entomology of Texas
Mudge Rare Books Library, with an emphasis on ornithology
Frequently Asked Questions about Specimens
Are the collections in the Perot Museum building in downtown Dallas?
No. The vast majority of the Museum’s collections are housed in the Museum’s state-of-the-art Research and Collections facility in West Dallas.
When were the museum’s collections started?
The Museum’s first official specimen acquisition was on October 22, 1935 when the Museum’s first Director, Frederick W. Miller, purchased five bison. These bison became the Bison diorama inside the Dallas Museum of Natural History when it opened its doors for the first time on June 6, 1936, with the opening of the Texas Centennial Exposition in Fair Park. The oldest specimens in the collections are actually stromatolites from the Precambrian Period collected in Wyoming. The first specimen to be cataloged into the collections, however, is that of a Cretaceous oyster (Exogyra ponderosa) from Kaufman County.
Are most of the Museum’s collections on display?
No. What you see on public exhibit is only the tip of the iceberg. At any given time, there are around 275 specimens on exhibit out of our >130,000 cataloged specimens. The Museum’s large collections are needed to preserve a record of the diversity of life in our region through time.
Can I leave a specimen at the Perot Museum to be identified and then come back for it later?
We do not allow drop-offs or store specimens for identification purposes. Instead, please submit pictures of your specimen to us via our identification form. We can often identify a specimen from pictures alone. If specimens are of particular interest or scientific value, one of our team may reach out with additional questions or comments.
If I bring in a specimen, will I find out how much money it is worth?
It is the Museum’s policy that we do not give monetary appraisals for specimens. We can, however, tell you the scientific and natural significance of the specimen.
Can anyone loan a specimen to, or borrow a specimen from, the Perot Museum?
The Museum can only facilitate specimen loans between itself and other institutions such as museums or universities, and unfortunately cannot loan to or borrow from individuals.
I am considering donating one or more specimen(s) to the Perot Museum. What types of specimens do you accept?
We accept a wide variety of specimen organisms that have been found all over the world, and will accept a specimen donation as long as it meets all of the following conditions:
- It has been legally obtained and is owned solely by the donor.
- It can provide an insight to science and the natural world by having pertinent data included. The bare minimum data required for a specimen to be accepted is the precise place at which the specimen was found and who the previous owner(s) were (if applicable).
- It is donated without conditions or restrictions.
- Proper care of the specimen will not place a significant financial or logistical burden on the Museum.
- The curator makes the final determination if a specimen is to be accepted into the Museum’s collection.
What do I need to provide with a fossil donation?
To accept a fossil donation, we also need the following:
- Its provenance, meaning the entire ownership history of the fossil.
- All available data concerning the fossil (e.g. organism type, place it was found, rock layer from which it was excavated, etc.). Fossils that have more data are stronger candidates for acceptance into our collection, as these are the fossils that are more useful for research and education.
- If available, a copy of field notes pertaining to the fossil during excavation.
- If applicable, a copy of the permit obtained for collection of the fossil, or a copy of the receipt of purchase of the fossil.
If my donation is accepted, can I or my family ever come back in the future and retrieve it?
When a specimen is donated, it permanently becomes property of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. This way, the specimen can be cared for and preserved for decades to come so that future generations have the opportunity to learn about the natural world from the object.
Are specimen donations tax-deductible?
Yes! Each donation is deductible to the extent allowed by the IRS. If your donation is valued above $500.00, please provide the Museum with IRS Form 8283 as well as an appraisal receipt from an independent company to obtain a tax deduction.
What happens to specimens after they are donated?
Newly acquired specimens have their data recorded into the collection catalog, and then are found a permanent home within protective storage. Specimens can be used for study and research, be published in new scientific literatures, and/or be displayed in Museum exhibits. Please note that it is not guaranteed that your specimen will be displayed in an exhibit, but will nonetheless serve a vital role in scientific progress and education as a research specimen.