David Temple

Associate Curator Of Paleontology

“My ultimate goal in any project is to inspire a love of science,” says David Temple. “Paleontology is a topic that universally gets students excited. It is also multidisciplinary, meaning that virtually all of the sciences contribute to our understanding of the ancient past. So, students are not only excited about dinosaurs but also chemistry, physics, math, statistics, biology and other fields they may not have previously thought of as ‘neato,’ ‘groovy’ or even ‘cool.’”

As associate curator of paleontology, David Temple leads the museum’s fossil preparation program. He oversaw the building of the fossil prep lab inside the Morian Hall of Paleontology which allows visitors to watch and interact with those working in the lab. Temple trains volunteers to work on museum projects, and also welcomes students of all ages to try their hand in the lab in fossil prep classes.

To learn more about the museum’s collections, Temple works with world-leading researchers to apply the latest technologies on fossils. Important discoveries have been made using specialized imaging techniques to uncover details hidden in plain light. Exciting discoveries include feathers on dinosaur specimens.

Temple developed the Museum’s current paleontology field program. His team excavates a Permian locality in North Texas, looking for fossils of Dimetrodon, the most fearsome pre-dinosaur predator, as well as every other sign of life, to more accurately reconstruct the 250-million-year-old ecosystem. The program is collecting display-quality Permian-era specimens and creating original scientific interpretation of these species. A goal of this work is also promoting the idea of “citizen science,” in which scientists collaborate with science-loving volunteers, students and teachers.

Formally trained as an archaeologist, Temple has studied a wide range of subjects, and has curated exhibitions ranging from Gold! Natural Treasure, Cultural Obsession and Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World to exhibits featuring topics like amber, lizards and snakes. He has created innovative interpretation techniques, such as using live actors to portrait passengers on the Titanic, and developed a short play about the discovery of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Prior to being appointed associate curator of paleontology, David Temple has served as HMNS curator of the education collections, director of education and director of volunteers. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Museum Studies, with an additional emphasis on paleontological collections and programming. He feels privileged to have worked with all previous paleontology curators on various projects, and to work with Dr. Robert T. Bakker, curator of paleontology.


Morian Hall of Paleontology


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