Project Home The Project Identifying & Naming New Species Morphotyping References & ID Tools Credits & Links Quick Search 

Project Background

The Manitou Invertebrate Project is a web-based effort using the PaleoCollaborator software.  The project will help identify & record fossils of the Ordovician Manitou Formation of Colorado.  A primary goal of this project is to encourage collaboration between fossil collectors and enthusiasts of all kinds; including research scientists, museums, amateur collectors, commercial collectors, teachers, students, and land managers.

The project is designed to integrate public and private collections into a comprehensive digital library of the fossils of this formation.  If you have a better example of a given species or if you have a new species, please submit a digital image of your specimen for identification.  If your fossil is better or new, then it will be posted on the site and you will be given credit for finding the specimen.  This way you can participate in the science without giving up your fossil.  Ideally, this website will mix collectors and scientists in a digital environment that promotes learning, collaboration, and the understanding and preservation of an amazing fossil resource.

CALLING ALL COLLECTORS!  Many WIPS members have collected in the Manitou Formation.  I’m asking for your help!  Please review your specimens and compare them to the website.  If you have something new or more complete, please submit a digital image using the website.  If you don’t have a digital camera, please contact me and I will take the pictures.  You will be recognized on the website as the collector if your specimen is used.  At that point, it would be great if you could donate your specimen to the collection at DMNS, though this is entirely up to you.

Suggestions for image submittals

Donations:  Of course, donation of specimens is a goal of this project.  This is not absolutely necessary with your submittal of digital image(s) and locality information.  But, it would be very useful.  The desired permanent repository is the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS).  A very nice collection already exists at DMNS and upcoming donations will make it the premier collection.  I work closely with Dr. Kirk Johnson (DMNS, VP of Research & Collections).  He is very interested in the project and is ready to accept Manitou donations .  I will forward the DMNS contact information for donations as we find out more about your collections.

Some Background:  The trilobites of Manitou Formation of Colorado are little known and some are quite rare.  They are from the Ordovician period (~490 to 443 mya).  Specifically, the trilobites are found in the lower (basal) portion of the Fm. which includes the four lowermost Ordovician trilobites zones (B, C, D and E) of Utah described by Ross (1951) and Hintze (1952).  The Manitou trilobites are often difficult to find and are poorly preserved.  The most common genera are Leiostegium and Kainella.  There are noted differences between the published Kainella specimens and those at DMNS and in private collections.  Other published genera include Bellefontia, Symphysurina, Hystricurus and Gonioteloides.  I initially learned about the Manitou trilobites from Dick Boucher (WIPS) while taking a Paleo. Cert. Class at DMNS.  Tom Nelson (WIPS) and I first visited the site in Feb ’03, but we too only found partial trilobite specimens - until the end of the trip.  Then, we found a few complete trilobites!  This was exciting at the time.  But, it became much more exciting after reading the last known publication on the Manitou trilobites.  In 1959, R. Berg and R. Ross published “Trilobites from the Peerless and Manitou Formations of Colorado” (Journal of Paleontology, v.33, No.1, January 1959, pp. p. 106-119).  In this paper, the genus/species were identified based solely on partial trilobites - cephalon and pygidium.  They did not find any complete specimens.  I tracked down all the references from this paper to obtain the genus/species descriptions including Bridge/Cloud (1947), Clark (1935), Hintze (1952), Ross (1951) and Walcott (1925) – and they were all based on partial trilobites.  In the Berg/Ross (1959) paper, the authors clearly stated that  “further research is needed”.  I soon learned from Kirk Johnson (DMNS) that one of the authors (Reuben Ross) was alive and living in a retirement home in Denver.  I began dropping by Reuben’s home with specimens on my way to the museum.  Reuben was also identifying specimens at DMNS.  The DMNS specimens are the result of a fantastic collection donated by Ron Meyer which also includes many complete trilobites.

The primary focus of this project is trilobites.  But, other invertebrates will be surveyed such as brachiopods, cystoids, gastropods, trace fossils, etc.  Some exquisite cystoid specimens showing beautiful plates have been recovered by WIPS members.  Also, several researchers have published papers on the conodonts of the Manitou Fm.  These too will be added to the website along with conodonts found by private collectors.  The Manitou conodont fauna have been correlated with formations in Korea, Australia and Siberia (Seo, Ethington, 1993).

WIPS Manitou Field Trip:  In May ’04, Jerry Suchan led a WIPS field trip to the Manitou Formation.  Jerry is another contributing participant in this project.  During the field trip, members collected at two quarries and again found numerous complete trilobite specimens.  Jerry and I took pictures of as many specimens as we could, but most of the complete trilobites now reside in private collections.  I’m sincerely hoping that those of you on the field trip will submit specimen images via the website.

Excavation Permit:  I’m currently working on a Special Use Permit with the National Forest Service (NFS) which will cover additional excavations.   At some point, the NFS lost the details on these Manitou Fm. localities.  In 2003, I submitted GPS coordinates; specimen images; and historical research to Bruce Schumacher at NFS.  The Manitou permit will help NFS keep track of this important Colorado resource and the annual reports will provide the scientific results of this project.  Note: WIPS is identified as a contributing research organization in the permit.

Potentially Important Results:  All existing publications and known historical collections (e.g. Colorado College, Central Missouri State) include only partial trilobite specimens.  The compilation and study of our many complete Leiostegium and Kainella specimens may yield important results.  Also, the historical descriptions and images of Kainella sp. pygidia have relatively small pygidial spines.  A specimen recently donated to DMNS and another in a WIPS member’s collection exhibit very long (3 cm) pygidial spines.  It’s not clear at this time whether these belong to the genus Kainella or something new.  Finally, some of our specimens have not been confidently associated with published material.  Further research is needed to determine if they represent a new genus or species.

Future Publications:  In my search, I’ve identified three other universities researchers who are currently studying the trilobites of the Manitou Fm. and are interested in collaborating on this project and/or publishing new findings.  They are Dr. Paul Myrow (Colorado College), Dr. John Taylor (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Jim Loch (Central Missouri State).  They all have ongoing research that should compliment this project.  In the end, the scientific results will dictate the direction of future publications.  At a minimum, an informal survey of the Manitou invertebrates will be published (on my website and/or paper version).  But, formal publication(s) may also be merited.

A Huge Part of the Success of This Project Depends on YOU!!!
Please visit the website and compare your specimens to those already identified. 
If you have something new or better preserved, please submit it using the website!  THANKS!


1. 1959 Journal of Paleontology – “Trilobites from the Peerless and Manitou Formations, Colorado” (Robert Berg & James Ross).
2. PaleoCollaborator - Paleontology Collaboration Software.
3. See project bibliography.

back to top

© All rights reserved.Powered by: PaleoCollaborator, v1.2.2