Paleobotany and Micropaleontology
The Paleobotany & Micropaleontology Collection at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is named in honor of the late Dr. Leonard R. Wilson, so we are officially known as “The Leonard R. Wilson Collection of Micropaleontology and Paleobotany.” However, in addition to micropaleontology and paleobotany specimens, the Collection is also the caretaker of the museums Mineralogy Collection, consisting of not just minerals, but also the rocks and meteorites the museum owns.
The Collection holdings comprise approximately 3,800 samples with associated palynological preparations (ca. 50,000 microscope slides), 8,000 macrofossil specimens, and comparative modern plant material. The approximate number of type and figured specimens in the Collection numbers over 1,000. This conservative estimate does not take into account that an individual sample or slide may contain more than one fossil of interest. The Collection was built largely through the work of the late Dr. Leonard "Dick" R. Wilson who was curator from 1962-1977 and an active emeritus curator for 21 years until his death in 1998. In addition, the Collection incorporates many of the samples and specimens, including type material, collected during his previous academic appointments from 1934-1962. Some of the additional contributors include: Dr. Gilbert “Gil” A. Leisman, Dr. Robert “Bob” F. Lundin, Richard W. Hedlund, James Bartel Urban, and Logan L. Urban.
The Collection is international in scope, ranging from the Proterozoic to the Pleistocene, and including samples from more than 50 countries. The primary strength of the Collection is Pennsylvanian (Late Carboniferous) palynology (pollen and spores) and macrofossils (leaves, seeds, etc.) floras from Oklahoma and surrounding states (see distribution of collection maps). Wilson’s research focused on determining the composition and paleoecology of coals (peat swamps) and the Collection extensively documents the palynology of 11 of the 17 coal seams in Oklahoma. In addition to formally published papers, the paleopalynology and paleobotany collection holds samples collected and studied as part of 31 master’s and Ph.D. theses conducted under Wilson from 1960-1976. Many of these theses describe localities that are no longer accessible either through mine abandonment or reclamation, new construction, or flooding for irrigation. The Collection is also strong in aquatic microfauna. Overall, the Collection documents the palynology (including aquatic microfauna) and paleobotany of sediments from the Proterozoic to the Pleistocene and represents a significant source of data for comparative paleobotanical and paleoecological studies to compare with other collections from other geographic regions.
The Collection is maintained by two full-time staff members: an assistant curator and a collection manager. For further information or to arrange for examination of particular specimens in the Paleobotany and Micropaleontology Collection please contact either the collection manager or curator (contact information is on the right side of the screen).
Dr. Richard Lupia, Assistant Curator
Margaret Landis, Collection Manager email: paleocatstar(at)ou.edu