Fossil Collection

Fossils are traces of organisms preserved in rocks and minerals.

The Fossil Collection was started in 1924 by Dr. Merton Yarwood Williams, who was a founding member of what was then UBC’s Department of Geology. The collection began with the purchase of specimens from W.J. Sutton, a local mining engineer. It expanded substantially in the 1970s and 1980s with the curatorial efforts of Joe Nagel, curator from 1971 to 1995. The Fossil Collection is part of the Pacific Museum of Earth, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, UBC.

The collection contains over 20,000 specimens, ranging from recent shells and Neanderthal stone tools to traces of cyanobacteria, called stromatolites, that represent some of the oldest evidence of life on Earth. The collection includes specimens about 505 million years old from the famous Burgess Shale in eastern British Columbia, as well as fossils from all over the world. Part of the collection was used in the first-ever application of genetic analysis to fossils.


Using the Collection

If you would like to access the Fossil Collection for research purposes, please see our contact page.