Paleontological Research Institution
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (March 2008)|
|Paleontological Research Institution|
|Key people||Gregory P. Dietl
|Location||Ithaca, New York|
The Paleontological Research Institution, or PRI, is a natural history museum in Ithaca, New York with a mission including both research and education. PRI is affiliated with Cornell University, houses one of the largest fossil collections in North America, and publishes, among other things, the oldest journal of paleontology in the western hemisphere, Bulletins of American Paleontology.
PRI was founded in 1932 by Gilbert Harris, a professor of geology at Cornell University from 1894 to 1934. He founded PRI to house his collection of fossils and to publish research in paleontology - the study of the history of life on Earth. PRI began as a small building behind Dr. Harris' home in Ithaca, New York. Through various additions over the next two decades, the original building grew into a 20-room complex that housed the Institution's collections, library, laboratories, and offices.
PRI has continued to grow through the years, requiring a move to larger quarters in 1968. The present facility on West Hill, along Trumansburg Road (N.Y. Rte. 96), holds over 2 million fossils and shells, and a 50,000 volume research library. In 2003, PRI opened the 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) Museum of the Earth, a natural history museum that showcases PRI's specimens and takes the visitor on a journey through time.
The Education Department at PRI serves audiences in Ithaca, across New York State, and across the nation. These audiences include a diversity of individuals, from Museum visitors to teachers and college students to underserved urban school students.
PRI's Education Department offers programs in six major areas: Interactive Programs and Events, Teacher Development, Global Change Education, Evolution Education, Earth Research Partnerships, and National Education Networks.
PRI houses one of the eight largest American collections of fossils and Recent shells, with over 2 million specimens. Many of these specimens represent invertebrates - animals without backbones. The collection represents an extraordinarily diverse array of living things, from the tiny shells of single-celled organisms to dinosaur bones and woolly mammoth teeth. Many of their specimens are especially valuable, because they are from localities now destroyed or unavailable for study today. Among those specimens are over 30,000 type and figured specimens, the 5th largest such collection in the United States.
In 1994-95 the invertebrate fossil and Recent mollusk collections of Cornell University were transferred to PRI on long term loan.
PRI staff members have a wide range of research expertise, including mastodons, Earth science education, and gastropod mollusks.
Bulletins of American Paleontology
Begun in 1895, this journal is the oldest continuously published paleontological journal in the western hemisphere. It publishes longer papers in any area of paleontology.
Begun in 1916, the academic journal Paleontographica Americana publishes major illustrated works (longer than 200 published pages) in all areas of paleontology.
A quarterly newsletter of paleontology designed for everyone interested in fossils and the history of life. American Paleontologist is a benefit of membership of PRI and the Museum of the Earth, and features articles by experts in paleontology and related fields, regular columns, book reviews, a Museum calendar of events, and a children's section.