The Princeton University Collection
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Fossilized cone of the Jurassic conifer Araucaria mirabilis Cerra Cuadrado, Pantagonia Province of Santa Cruz, Argentina YPM 28339, 53182
Detail of a cross section of the fossilized trunk of Psaronius sp. from the Carboniferous Locality unknown YPM catalog no. 53178

A major portion of the Princeton University paleobotanical collection in the Division of Paleobotany was given to the Yale Peabody Museum in 1985.


This collection began with the activities of William B. Scott, the founder of Princeton’s Geology Department, and Henry Osborn, who together directed the Princeton University expeditions into the American West in the 1870s and 1880s. It was during the Princeton Student Expedition of 1877 that a fossil flora from the late Eocene lake deposits at Florissant, Colorado, was gathered and later sent to Leo Lesquereux for identification. Also at this time, Princeton acquired material from the I.F. Mansfield Carboniferous Collection, much of which was also identified by Lesquereux.


In 1928 Princeton hired Erling Dorf, who added valuable collections from the Devonian, Cretaceous and early Cenozoic Periods. With Dorf’s retirement from Princeton in 1974, use of this collection ceased until its transfer to the Yale Peabody Museum.