Invertebrate Paleontology

John A. Harper, P.G.

Research Associates

John A. Harper, P.G. 

In Residence, Invertebrate Paleontology
Carnegie Museum of Natural History


Research Interests 

  • Subsurface geology, Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale, Local area geology
  • Paleozoic gastropods and ophiuroids

John received a set of toy dinosaurs for Christmas when he was nine years old, and that simple gift instilled in him the desire to spend his life in the back room of a dark, dusty museum, working on dinosaurs. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in Paleontology and Paleoecology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1977, John went to work for the Pennsylvania Geological Survey researching Pennsylvania’s oil and gas and subsurface geology. Over the next 35 years, as head of the Pittsburgh office, he managed the staff in their research and development of the state’s oil and gas well database, as well as taking an active role in informing the public about fossil collecting, general geology of western Pennsylvania, geological hazards such as landslides, and other topics. When he retired from the Survey in 2012, he was actively participating in research on geological sequestration of carbon dioxide and on the geology of oil and gas from shales such as the Marcellus and Utica. John has been a Research Associate in the Section of Invertebrate Paleontology since 1983 and now, in retirement, he spends time in the Section fulfilling his long-time dream, only working on fossil snails instead of dinosaurs. Over the years, he has published numerous professional and popular articles on many aspects of geology, paleontology, and petroleum history, and continues to do so in retirement. He still loves dinosaurs, though!