George D. Stanley, Jr.

Professor & Director UM Paleontology Center

Office: C.H. Clapp Building 302

Department of Geosciences
The University of Montana
32 Campus Drive #1296
Missoula, MT 59812 USA

Voice: 406-243-5693
Fax: 406-243-4028

B.A. The University Tennessee
Ph.D. The University of Kansas


George Stanley

Research Interests

    * Field paleontology and collection management
    * Cambrian fossils of the Chengjiang Biota, China
    * Paleontology, and evolution
    * Paleoecology and taxonomy of Triassic reefs
    * Use of fossils in assessing plate tectonics and paleogeography
    * Coral reefs and reef evolution
    * Early Mesozoic fossils in displaced terranes of Western North America
    * Mass Extinction at the Triassic - Jurassic boundary

Courses Taught
  * Paleontological Techniques and Field Methods
  * History of Life
  * God, Darwin, and Dinosaurs (Creationism, Science & Evolution)
  * Mass Extinctions and Catastrophism
  * Paleobiology

Stanley with a class on the Great Barrier Reef of Belize

Casting in the Paleotechniques Class

Paleo field trip in Montana

Current Activities / Grants

My research and training is international and field oriented, dealing with paleobiology, paleoecology and paleogeography and with a focus on Mesozoic stratigraphy and marine Triassic fossils (vertebrates, invertebrates and plants). I am working with collaborators and students on recent and ongoing projects:

  1. Paleo Exploration Project (PEP). Cretaceous rocks of northeastern Montana as part of a co-authored NSF-ITEST grant with middle school teachers and students from rural Montana. Paleo Exploration Project uses GIS techniques from the field with fossils to answer research questions. web site:

  2. Research on upper Triassic fossils (vertebrates and invertebrates) from Alaska and western cordillera: assessing paleogeography and tectonic ideas. (NSF- sponsored)

  3. Research on Triassic marine fossils, reefs, and their recovery from mass extinctions of early Mesozoic era. (NSF- sponsored)

  4. Stratigraphic geology and paleontology of northwestern Sonora, Mexico. (NSF- sponsored workshop)

  5. Geology and paleontology of Triassic rocks and fossils in western Canada and Alaska (NSF-sponsored)

  6. The origin and evolution of modern corals and their ancient history

  7. Collections Development of the UMIP Research collections. (NSF-sponsored)


I am director of The University of Montana Paleontology Center and I supervise the paleontology research collection. I also work with students on collection management and automation of collections and teach an intern course "Curation Techniques". I collaborate with researchers at the Smithsonian Institution as a S.I. Research Associate. My taxonomic experience is with Mesozoic corals and sponges and Triassic reef-building fossils and I apply paleontological data to solve geological problems in both practical (field oriented) and theoretical situations. In my ongoing study of Cordilleran terranes, I'm using fossils to assess the paleogeography of some displaced terranes and trace the evolution of Triassic reefs. As an adjunct professor in the UM Division of Biological Sciences, I interact with biology students. My current interest is the early evolution of Mesozoic corals and the evolution and extinction of Triassic reefs.


Some of my recent UM students were Sarah Schlichtholz (UM McNair Scholar) who completed a database for scleractinian corals; David Goodwin (M.S., 1999), on paleoecology and depositional setting of coral and sponge biostromes in northwestern Sonora, Mexico; Jeannette M. Yarnell (M.S. 2000), on fossils from a carbonate reef complex of Triassic age in the Yukon and a site near Denali National Park, Alaska; and Thomas Andres (Masters Degree in Teaching) a high school teacher, who is exploring Triassic corals from Nevada. Erik Katvala (M.S., 2004) Triassic conodonts in southeast Alaska and Andrew Caruthers (M.S. 2005) is investigating the paleogeography of Triassic silicified invertebrates in Alaska.

Megan R. Rosenblatt (M.S. 2011) Triassic corals, reef paleoecology and microfacies microfacies from strata in the Wallowa Mountains, northeastern Oregon.

Joseph A. Garcia (M.I.S., 2008) Masters in Interdisciplinary Study.  Developed a scientific methodology for making artistic reconstructions and shell coloration from Triassic fossils of Peru.



Erik Katvala standing on a Triassic reef in southeast Alaska

Sarah Schlichtholz doing field work in Denali National Park


Andrew Caruthers

Andrew Caruthers

Honors, Awards, and Activities



Facilities for paleontological research include a fully equipped preparation laboratory, including thin section and acid laboratory, digital cameras and photomicroscopes. Nationally recognized paleontology type and research reference collection currently being electronically automated.


Recent and ongoing research projects

  • Soft-bodied jelatinous fossils from the Chengjiang Biota, China.
  • Ancient Oceans
  • Mesozoic marine faunas and their recoveries from mass extinctions.
  • Triassic-Jurassic stratigraphy of fossils and strata in northwestern Sonora, Mexico
  • Reef evolution and extention between Triassic-Jurassic time.
  • Faunas from displaced terranes of Cordilleran North America and Japan.
  • Conservation and ecology of the Belize Barrier Reef.
  • Early Mesozoic corals and their evolution.
  • Paleontology and stratigraphy of Mesozoic rocks in Oregon and Idaho.
  • Biostratigraphic and paleontolgic studies at Kuiu Island, Southeast Alaska.
  • Mesozoic silicified faunas from terranes in Alaska.

Collecting vertebrate fossils

Books and Monographs Published Coral Bleaching
  • Corals and Reef Crises, Collapse and Change. Paleontological
    Paper 17, The Paleontological Society, Boulder, Colorado, 160pp. (Edited by G. D. Stanley, Jr.) (online)

  • The Terrane Puzzle: New Perspectives on Paleontology and Stratigraphy from the North American Cordillera, 2008 Geological Society of America. Special Paper 442, 326pp. (co-edited with R.B. Blodgett)
  • The History and Sedimentology of Reef Systems, 2001 Kluwer Academic/Plenum, N.Y., 458 p.
  • Stanley, G.D., Jr. and Gonzalez-Leon. 1996. Paleogeographic and tectonic implications of Triassic fossils and strata from the Antimonio Formation, northwestern Sonora. [Chapter contribution In] Jacques-Ayala, C., Gonzalez-Leon, C., and Roldan-Quintana (eds.) Studies on the Mesozoic of Sonora and Adjacent Areas. Geological Society of America Special Paper 301.
  • Stanley, G.D., Jr. (editor). 1996. Paleobiology and Biology of Corals. Paleontological Society Papers, v. 1, 296 p.
  • Stanley, G. D., Jr., Gonzalez-Leon, C., Sandy, M. R., Senowbari- Daryan, B., Doyle, P., Tamura, M., and Erwin, D. H. 1994. Upper Triassic Invertebrates from the Antimonio Formation, Sonora, Mexico., Paleontological Society Memoir 36, 33pp.
  • Stanley, G.D., Jr. (editor) 1994. Paleontology and Stratigraphy of Triassic to Jurassic Rocks in the Peruvian Andes. Palaeontographica Abteilung A, Band 233, 208pp. + 46 pls.
  • Stanley, G. D., Jr. 1992. Tropical reef ecosystems [chapter contribution]. W. A. Nierenberg (ed.), Encyclopedia of Earth System Science, v. 4, p. 375-388. New York, Academic Press.
  • Kotaka, T., Dickins, J. M., McKinzie, K. G., Mori, K., Ogasawara, K. and Stanley, G. D., Jr. (eds.) 1991. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Shallow Tethys 3, Saito Ho-on Kai Special Publication no. 3, 550 p.
  The Terrane Puzzel

Some Selected Published Papers




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