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Chris Norris

Christopher A. Norris

Senior Collections Manager


Division of Vertebrate Paleontology



1992: D.Phil., University of Oxford
1990: MA, University of Oxford
1988: BA, University of Oxford


Museum Career

1997-1998: Assistant Curator, Zoological Collections, Oxford University Museum of Natural History
1999-2002: Curatorial Associate, Department of Mammalogy, American Museum of Natural History
2002-2009: Director of Collections & Archives, Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History

2012-2014: President, Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections

I completed my Ph.D. in Zoology at the University of Oxford in 1992 and after, brief periods as a civil servant and university administrator, the remainder of my career has been spent in collection management, covering both Recent and fossil specimens. By training I’m a mammal systematist, but much of my work today concentrates on increasing the accessibility of the vertebrate paleontology collections at Yale, both directly and through the on-line provision of collections data and images, while ensuring the physical well being and long-term stability of the objects in the collection. I’m active in the development of “best practices” for the collection management community and am involved in a number of ongoing projects relating to the delivery of training and other collection management resources via the worldwide web. I was one of the developers of MuseumSOS, a website which provides collection management and conservation professionals with information on emergency response and salvage procedures for natural history collections, and I’ve also produced educational ‘modules’ covering collection management and fossil preparation for the Paleontology Portal website. I’m a founder member of the Integrated Pest Management Working Group (IPM-WG), an ad-hoc group of collections professionals developing pest management tools and resources for distribution via the web. More recently I’ve been working with colleagues at the American Museum of Natural History on developing streamlined collection assessment methodologies for incorporation into collection improvement projects at Yale, AMNH, and in the wider natural sciences collections community.


Recent Grant Support

NSF DBI-1305027

Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: Fossil Insect Collaborative: A Deep-Time Approach to Studying Diversification and Response to Environmental Change.


NSF DBI-1601884

Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: The Cretaceous World: Digitizing Fossils to Reconstruct Evolving Ecosystems in the Western Interior Seaway


NSF DBI-1622772

Workshop: FutureProofing Natural History Collections: Creating Sustainable Models for Research Resources


NSF ICER-1540984

EarthCube IA: Collaborative Proposal: Enhancing Paleontological and Neontological Data Discovery API


NSF OCI-1064422

Workshop on a Scientific Software Innovation Institute (S2I2) for Biological Collections Digitization


IMLS - Save America's Treasures

Conserving the 19th Century Dinosaur Collections of Othniel Charles Marsh


Selected Publications

Norris, C.A. 2018. The future of natural history collections. 13-28 in Dorfman, E. (ed.), The Future of Natural History Collections. New York, Routledge.


Norris, C.A. and Butts, S. 2014. Let your data run free? The challenge of data redaction in paleontological collections. Collection Forum, 28(1-2): 114-119.


Campos, P.F., Willerslev, E., Sher, A., Orlando, L., Axellson, E., Tikhonov, A., Aaris-Sørensen, K., Greenwood, A.D., Kahlke, R-D., Kosintsev, P., Krakhmalnaya, T., Kuznetsova, T., Lemey, P., MacPhee, R., Norris, C.A., Shepherd, K., Suchard, M.A., Zazula, G.D., Shapiro, B. and Gilbert, M.T.P., 2010. Ancient DNA analyses exclude humans as the driving force behind late Pleistocene musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) population dynamics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.0907189107


Crosby, K. and Norris, C.A. 2003. Periotic morphology in the trichosurin possums Strigocuscus celebensis and Wyulda squamicaudata (Diprotodontia, Phalangeridae) and a revised definition of the Trichosurini. American Museum Novitates 3414; 1-14.

Delson, E., Harcourt-Smith, W.E.H., Frost, S.R., and Norris, C.A. 2007. Databases, data access, and data sharing in paleoanthropology: first steps. Evolutionary Anthropology, 16: 161-163.


Elkin, L.K., Norris, C.A., and Golpinar, G. 2010. Development of best practices for integrated pest management and a best practices model for the wider museum sector. Collection Forum, 24 (1-2): 62-71.

Flemming, C., Norris, C.A., and Bell, S.K. 2005. Re-revealed: vertebrate paleontology archives in the American Museum of Natural History. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25 (suppl. 3): 57A.

Norris, C.A. 1993. Changes in the composition of the auditory bulla from populations of the grey cuscus, Phalanger orientalis breviceps (Marsupialia, Phalangeridae) from the southern Solomon Islands. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 107: 93-106.

Norris, C.A. 1994. The periotic bones of possums and cuscuses: cuscus polyphyly and the division of the marsupial family Phalangeridae. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 111: 73-98.

Norris, C.A. 1999a. The cranium of Bunomeryx (Artiodactyla: Homacodontidae) from the late Eocene Uinta deposits of Utah, and its implications for tylopod systematics. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 19(4): 742-751.

Norris, C.A.1999b. Phalanger lullulae. Mammalian Species, 621: 1-4.

Norris, C.A. 2000. The cranium of Leptotragulus, a hornless protoceratid (Artiodactyla: Protoceratidae) from the middle Eocene of North America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 20(2): 341-348.

Norris, C.A. and Harrison, D.L. 1998a. A possible omomyid periotic (Primates: Omomyidae) from the Eocene deposits at Hordle, Hampshire. Acta Zoologica Cracoviensa, 41: 61-68.

Norris, C.A. and Harrison, D.L. 1998b. Mammalian periotics from the Eocene deposits of Hordle, Hampshire. Acta Zoologica Cracoviensa, 41: 69-77.

Norris, C.A. and Musser, G.G. 2001. Systematic Revision within the Phalanger orientalis complex (Diprotodontia, Phalangeridae): a third species of lowland gray cuscus from New Guinea & Australia. American Museum Novitates, 3356: 1-20.

Norris, C.A. and Pickering, J. 1994. Catalogue of specimens of Monotremata and Marsupialia in the Zoological Collections of the Oxford University Museum. University Museum, Oxford. 83pp.

Pickering, J. and Norris, C.A. 1996. New evidence on the extinction of the endemic murid Rattus macleari from Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Australian Mammalogy, 19: 35-41.