Upon approval from the staff of the Division of Paleontology, we typically loan original catalogued fossil specimens only for use by qualified, accredited, responsible scholars of educational and research institutions, and to staff and students from other sections of AMNH, with the additional requirement that these will be used to generate published results in a timely fashion. Loans are made to the borrower's institution, with the care of the specimen(s) in the hands of a permanent staff member; i.e., the institution is responsible for the care and return of the specimens. Loans for students are made out to their advisors or to another responsible staff member of the institution. If an individual is known to have lost or mistreated specimens in the past, that individual may be denied further use of the collection. Normally loans will only be made to institutions with a collection manager (or similar responsible collections position) who will be responsible for managing the loan.

Applying for a Loan

Requests for loans may be initiated by e-mail or telephone call, but must be immediately followed by a formal request. Requests for loans usually require a formal hard-copy letter, on institutional letterhead, which can be faxed or e-mailed. In the case of regular borrowers, an e-mail alone may suffice. Under certain circumstances, for example where borrowers are not known to the institution, a supporting reference may be requested. Loan requests should be sent to the appropriate curator-in-charge.

Specimen Availability

Only accessioned and cataloged specimens can be loaned. In general, the Division of Paleontology does not loan Type specimens. Under certain circumstances, and at the discretion of the curator-in-charge or Division Chair, Type specimens may be loaned; in such cases, restrictions may be placed on the duration of the loan and the method of shipment, and the borrower may be required to insure the specimen during transit.

Additional Conditions

In some cases, for example where the borrower works for a non collections-holding institution or for extremely rare or valuable specimens, they may be asked to provide suitable evidence that the specimen(s) will be handled adequately, and that suitable and secure environmental and storage conditions will be provided for the specimen. 


Loans typically will be for no less than one year, and will not normally be made for periods of more than three years. Loans are considered due for return once the period of the loan has elapsed. Persistent failure to return overdue loan material may be grounds for the withdrawal of the borrower's right to use the collection. Under extreme circumstances, such as failure of the borrower's home institution to act to ensure the return of the material, and at the discretion of the Divisional Chair, withdrawal of privileges may be extended to cover all staff and students of the borrower's institution. Further action, including legal proceedings, may be undertaken if necessary. 

Loans Contacts

Dr. Mark Norell

Fossil Fish
Dr. John Maisey

Fossil Invertebrates
Dr. Neil H. Landman

Fossil Mammals
Dr. Jin Meng

VP Archives
Dr. Mark Norell