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Austin's First Science Museum

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About Our Collections

  • TNSC's collections form the basis of some of the most significant research at The University of Texas at Austin.
  • Our holdings are predominantly Texas in origin, and probably are the single largest and most diverse representation of living and past Texas natural history.
  • Our collections represent an irreplaceable record of changes in Texas’ natural environment. They are irreplaceable because many of the find sites no longer exist due to natural changes or man-made changes in the environment.
  • Our collections provide specimens to a number of The University of Texas at Austin's undergraduate and graduate courses, touching more than 1,000 students per year.
  • Our collections are divided into three main groups:
    • Texas Natural History Collections (TNHC). The single largest and most diverse combined representation of living and past Texas natural history. Approximately 570,000 fishes, 750,000 arthropods (500,000 general invertebrate and about 250,000 insects), and 58,000 reptiles and amphibians. 95% of the counties in Texas are represented in this collection.
    • Vertebrate Paleontology Lab (VPL). Holds the 7th largest vertebrate fossil collection in North America and a large comparative skeleton collection of modern animals. The VPL is home to more than 250,000 cataloged specimens. The Lab supports one of the largest professional instruction programs sponsoring training in vertebrate paleontology in association with The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geological Sciences.
    • Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab (NPL). Is home to the sixth largest non-vertebrate fossil collection in the U.S., with more than 4 million specimens of non-vertebrate fossils, rocks and minerals. It boasts fossils from 95% of Texas counties and houses a small collection of Recent comparative materials (shells, corals, etc.). The collections include ammonites and a significant group of rudists, as well as other mollusks, paleobotanical specimens, and microfossils. Completing the collections are a wealth of recent comparative mollusks, gems, minerals, and other rock specimens, meteorites and other impact-related materials.