Strengths/Scope of Collections
The most researched and utilized collections are the Lower Paleozoic fossils acquired over the last 150 years. Invertebrate fossil collections are stored by age and geographic locations (about 50,000 records). All fossils from each locality are stored together rather than separated into taxonomic groups. The intention is to preserve the composition of entire faunas for studies of relative abundances of all species and analyses of community changes through time. Databases are available that allow taxonomic workers to locate fossils of interest within the storage areas.
A large collection of Cambrian fossils of Wisconsin was amassed by Gilbert Raasch during the early half of the 20th century. These collections are impressive for their field documentation and extremely good locality data. Raasch studied the trilobite collections and produced several unfinished monographs. The Cambrian fossil collection includes about 45,000 specimens.
The Ordovician fossil collection numbers about 65,000 specimens. The large collection of Ordovician fossils from Wisconsin has received relatively little research attention to-date. There is also a substantial collection of Late Ordovician fossils from the Great Basin obtained by curator Peter Sheehan.
Silurian fossils are the largest (more than 122,000 specimens) and most diverse collection with representation from early quarrying operations, substantial collections by Peter Sheehan in the Great Basin, and representative collections from Sweden. These are further supplemented by the Greene Museum collections at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Curator Rodney Watkins published important studies of Silurian faunal assemblages from Wisconsin.