Division of Fossil Primates

The Division of Fossil Primates (DFP) houses rare and unique collections of vertebrates from around the world that document the complexity, diversity and evolutionary history of life over the past 55 million years. Over 27,000 specimens are housed at DFP and span time ranges from 55 to 48 million years (Wyoming), 37 to 19 million years (Egypt), 18 to 7 million years (India), and 10,000 to 500 years (Madagascar).

Gregg Gunnell directs the Division of Fossil Primates at the Duke Lemur Center. Photo by Jon Gardiner/Duke Photography

Gregg Gunnell directs the Division of Fossil Primates at the Duke Lemur Center. Photo by Jon Gardiner/Duke Photography

The primary focus of the DFP collections is on primates but many other mammals and vertebrates are also represented. Specimens range from nearly complete skeletons of subfossils from Madagascar, to skulls, dentitions, and isolated postcranial elements from Egypt, India and Wyoming. An extensive collection of comparative casts and recent primate skeletons is also included in the DFP collections.

We encourage study of DFP collections by both Duke and outside researchers and students through visits to collections, loans, and cast exchanges. In addition, we are actively making digital 3D images of DFP specimens available for download and research through MorphoSource. Our goal is to make virtually every DFP specimen digitally available as soon as possible.

Collection Use Policies

Research Proposal Form


The Division of Fossil Primates maintains an active field and laboratory research program. Ongoing field projects include work in the Eocene and Oligocene of the Fayum region of Egypt and collection of subfossil giant lemurs in the Pleistocene and Holocene of Madagascar. Read more about projects in Egypt, Madagascar, India and Wyoming.

Student Opportunities

The DFP employs 3-4 work study students each year to help with all aspects of collection management, curation and research. We also welcome volunteers and encourage anyone who is interested to contact us to explore possibilities (contact information below).

Contact Us

megaDivision of Fossil Primates
Duke University Lemur Center
1013 Broad Street
Durham, North Carolina 27705
Phone – 919.416.8420
Fax – 919.416.8584

Director: Gregg F. Gunnell, PhD

Staff Specialist: Catherine Riddle


Donations play a huge part in the curation, preservation, and field expeditions for our Department. If you wish to make a donation please contact our office. A special thanks to the following for their generous support:

Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation
Trish Kohler
Ben Freed

Related News

Fossils, Ancient Texts and … Moss? Unique Duke collections you may not know
Aug 7, 2013
Duke Today

Gregg Gunnell: Managing the Fossils Duke’s noted fossil collection is under new management
Oct 21, 2011
Duke Today






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