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Fossils donated to Lehi museum

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LEHI — The Lehi Hutchings Museum will add 25,000 fossils to its collection — a half-million dollar gift from a Utah man who spent his life collecting the specimens.

The donation from Lloyd Gunther is the largest since the museum opened in 1955 with John Hutchings' own collection, museum director Susan Whittaker said.

Gunther, an 89-year-old retired wildlife manager, was introduced to fossil collection as a young boy by Hutchings himself.

"I was like John's adopted son. ... He used to take me down by the lake," he said.

Gunther spent his life traveling the United States for work and collected the minerals and fossils wherever he went. The whole collection has an appraised value $3.5 million.

The majority of his collection is housed at Utah State University, but thousands of other pieces are in the Smithsonian, the British Museum, Yale University, the University of Utah, and other museums, Gunther said.

"He is known worldwide for his collection," said Whittaker. "His collection is quite awesome. He is better known for his fossils but he has a wonderful mineral collection. He has given specimens to the greatest museums in the world."

Gunther's specimens, some of which have been in storage for 70 years, include crinoids, trilobites, nantiloids, petrified wood, othoceras and ammonites, and minerals.

He's now working on cataloging the items he's donated to the Lehi museum, which already has some Gunther pieces on display.

The new exhibit is expected to open in April, Whittaker said.