Vertebrate Paleontology is the study of fossil fishes, sharks, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals — animals with internal skeletons including a backbone composed of a series of vertebrae. The IMNH collection holds over 100,000 catalogued specimens of fossil vertebrates, ranging in size from the tiny teeth of bats, shrews, and rodents, to mammoths. Our collections are primarily from Idaho and the Intermountain West. They include representatives of every class of fossil vertebrates, but fossil mammals from the Cenozoic (the last 65 million years) form the bulk of the collections.
The Vertebrate Paleontology section explores, excavates records, prepares, conserves, and researches the fossil resources in the collection at IMNH. In addition to working with private, university, and municipal agencies, IMNH is an official repository for specimens collected from State, Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forest (NFSL), and Department of Energy (DOE) lands throughout Idaho.
Collection facilities have been completely renovated since 2004 through grants from the National Science Foundation. Most specimens are housed in fireproof and secure metal cabinets. The collection database has been computerized and the catalogue can be searched electronically.