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Release: June 11, 2002

(Photos: Glenn C. Crossman; part of an Eoparisocrinus crossmani fossil)

UI's nationally ranked paleontology program receives 10-ton gift

The University of Iowa Paleontology Repository in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences department of geoscience has received a 10-ton bequest in the form of an extensive fossil collection from the estate of the late Glenn C. Crossman of Riceville, Iowa.

The collection, valued in excess of $100,000, primarily documents three eras of Midwestern geological history. These are: the Ordovician era (450 million years ago) reflected in formations of northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota; Devonian era rocks (375 million years ago) of northern Iowa; and Mississippian era (325 million years ago) of north-central Iowa. The collection itself consists of more than 10 tons of rock stored in some 900 cardboard trays, 250 slabs (mostly 1-by-2 feet rectangles), and 150 bags, buckets and boxes of various sizes containing wrapped specimens.

Julia Golden, repository curator, says that the material is a valuable addition to the UI Paleontology Collection -- among the top 10 research collections in the U.S. -- and the UI paleontology program, ranked 7th by U.S. News and World Report for the third consecutive year.

"The material in the Crossman Collection expands and complements the Strimple, Levorson and Gerk collections already held by the university. This new acquisition will draw specialists to the university," she says. "A collection of this size and breadth is an invaluable source of material for systematic, paleoecological, biodiversity, and morphological studies."

In connection with the Crossman donation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the department of geoscience a $9,556 support grant to defray the costs of moving the collection from Riceville to Iowa City as well as summer salary for two graduate assistants to sort and curate it. The support grant supplements a major two-year, $255,149 NSF grant to reorganize the Paleontology Repository and purchase new museum storage cases.

Crossman was a Riceville accountant and an avid collector for more than 35 years, amassing a huge collection, predominantly from sites within Iowa. Over the past 10 years, Crossman donated a considerable number of echinoderm specimens to the university collection. The bequest consists of the remainder of his collection and represents a valuable resource for research, display and education.

Crossman's favorite fossils were echinoderms, especially crinoids related to the starfish that live in today's oceans. His association with the department of geoscience dates back to the mid-1960s when he formed a friendship and collaboration with the paleontologists, especially Harrell L. Strimple (repository curator from1962-1980) who helped him identify the fossils he found.

Over the years, Crossman donated more than 300 rare and unusual specimens that have been used in scientific papers. Dr. James Brower of Syracuse University has described many of these specimens and named two new crinoid species in honor of Crossman (Cupulocrinus crossmani and Eoparisocrinus crossmani). Crossman also donated collections to other institutions also, including the State Historical Society of Iowa and the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution. He was also well known in Iowa naturalists’ circles. For example, one of the first properties donated to the Iowa Nature Conservancy was the Crossman Prairie, land he saved from the plow many years ago.

Crossman died Sept. 8, 2001, and a memorial service was held June 7 at Crossman Prairie, east of Riceville.