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UO Condon Collection

The Department of Earth Sciences continues to foster a long-standing link with the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The personal fossil collection of Thomas Condon, first professor of Geology at UO, formed the nucleus of the Condon Fossil Collection, which currently numbers around 100,000 specimens. Currently, several Earth Sciences faculty and emeriti are involved in the growth and curation of the Condon Collection. As a living research collection, new specimens are constantly being added, both through fieldwork by department faculty and through donations from both professional and amateur paleontologists.

Through its continuous growth, the Condon Collection is steadily becoming a better representation of Oregon’s natural history. Fossil vertebrates and plants from the John Day region in the eastern part of the state have been famous worldwide since Dr. Condon’s collections were published in the 19th century; but new collections made over the past ten years at several late Pleistocene sites at Woodburn, Oregon, in Marion County, have yielded a trove of bones of vertebrates such as camel, bison, and rodents, along with plants and seeds. These fossils come from organic-rich silts and peat layers, a bog setting that is unique within Oregon and, indeed, to the west coast.

The Condon Collection is the only professionally curated university museum fossil collection in Oregon, ranking twelfth in the United States in number of specimens of fossil vertebrates. Historic photographs, field notebooks, a library, as well as skeletons of many recent animals are also maintained by the Condon Collection.

As we move further into the 21st century, the Condon Collection will have an increasing web presence. Currently under development are a web database for searching the collection, using Specify, and a series of web galleries featuring important fossils from both Dr. Condon’s original collection and from our extensive collection of type specimens.

For information about the Condon Collection, call or e-mail Greg Retallack (541-346-4558, or Edward Davis (541-346-3461, , and visit the Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

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