Club Corner: Kentucky Paleontological Society

By Dan Phelps, President

The Kentucky Paleontological Society (KPS) was founded in 1993 for the purpose of promoting interest in and knowledge of the science of paleontology. It is intended that the Society be a network for the exchange of data between professionals and serious amateurs in Kentucky and surrounding states.

Fayette County Science Fair

Meetings of the Society are held once a month and usually feature a speaker on some aspect of paleontology and geology. December’s meeting is usually a party and auction. Visitors are always welcome.


National Fossil Day celebration at the Cincinnati Zoo

National Fossil Day celebration at the Cincinnati Zoo


A newsletter is published monthly, and 10 field trips are arranged annually. There are no field trips in January and February’s trip is usually a behind the scenes tour of the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Geir Research Center.

The KPS also participates in the Kentucky Geological Survey’s annual open house held during Earth Science week in October. Additionally, the KPS has displays during various county and regional science fairs. Several KPS members participate in local public school science nights.  The KPS has a fossil display that is shown in several regional public libraries.


Displays at the annual open house.

Aerial view of open house attendance and tabling.


In 1998, the KPS revived the annual February Darwin Lecture at the University of Kentucky. In recent years, the Kentucky Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists have taken over the lead in these lectures, but the KPS is still a major participant. Past Darwin Lecture speakers have included Bruce MacFadden, Jack Horner, Philip Currie, and Eugenie Scott.

The KPS and its members have worked with world-class paleontologists on exciting research projects ranging from the discovery of new genera of extinct echinoderms, and the excavation of a rare early land vertebrate in Kentucky to helping excavate dinosaurs and other vertebrate fossils in New Mexico and Montana. Our mission is to advance science by bringing untapped talent into the field, and to help create a more scientifically literate public through our educational efforts.

The KPS has also taken a role in the advocacy of good science education in Kentucky. KPS members testified in favor of the Next Generation Science Standards in public hearings in Frankfort. Additionally, the KPS was a major sponsor of the 2017 March for Science in Lexington. The KPS’s President, Dan Phelps, is well known for his public opposition to creationism. In 2017 he was awarded the National Center for Science Education’s “Friend of Darwin Award” for his activism against Kentucky’s Creation Museum and Ark Park. His struggle to stop Kentucky’s government from giving the Ark Park an $18.5 million dollar tax rebate incentive is featured in the new documentary film “We Believe in Dinosaurs.”


A portion of a display in the library curated and showcased by KPS members

Another display in the library curated and showcased by KPS members

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