The strength andorganization of the Paleontology Collection mirror thetraditional significance of fossils as aids in relative timecorrelation and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Although thecollection contains about 16,000 type specimens, its importancealso derives from large suites of geographically andstratigraphically well defined fossils (ca. 600,000 specimens).This stratigraphic collection continues to provide basic data formodern biostratigraphic, systematic, and paleoecological work,and it is the fastest growing part of the collection.
Although portions ofthe Paleontology collection were sold as a way to fund thepublication of scientific reports during the later years of JamesHall's tenure as State Paleontologist, the collection hasregained its stature as a key repository for Paleozoic fossils.It has grown since l900 through the research of staffpaleontologists J. M. Clarke (sponges, cephalopods, eurypterids),R. Ruedemann (graptolites), Winifred Goldring (plants,echinoderms), R. H. Flower (cephalopods, trilobites), and D. W.Fisher (Cambrian-Devonian faunas). Cornell University's type fossil collection wasacquired in the 1970's. Present growth reflects research beingconducted at the Museum on Cambrian-Ordovician conodonts andgraptolites and earliest Cambrian small shell faunas.
The PaleontologyCollection includes a wealth of fossil and collateral lithologicspecimens from New York State. However, stratigraphically andsystematically valuable material from the Paleozoic of Indiana,Wisconsin, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Quebec, MaritimeCanada, Brazil, and the Falkland Islands have been brought intothe collection through work involving broader scale geologicalsyntheses. Students of Precambrian and Paleozoic faunas areencouraged to deposit type specimens, illustrated thin sectionsand polished lithologic slabs, and all other materials that arethe basis of published reports, regardless of geographic place ororigin, in the Paleontology Collection of the New York StateMuseum.
Ed Landing, aspecialist on the biostratigraphic use and paleoecology of LowerPaleozoic conodonts and higher level systematics, provincialism,and paleoecology of earliest Cambrian faunas, is curator of thecollection.
The Geological Survey also maintains a comprehensive collection of minerals, rocks, anddrill core and cutting samples from throughout the state.