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National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

National Fossil Day 2014: Art and Photography Contest

"Fossil Neighborhoods"

NFD Sketch
Submit your National Fossil Day artwork or photograph to the 2014 contest. (Sketch by Tom Conant for NPS.)

About the Contest

The theme for this year's National Fossil Day Art and Photography Contest is Fossil Neighborhoods.

Imagine you could travel back in time with any fossil, and have it show you around its neighborhood. What might that have looked like? What other ancient organisms did it live with? Use your knowledge of the fossil you choose to reconstruct the ancient ecosystem—its home—in which it thrived.

There are many clues you can discover that tell a story about the ecosystems that existed in the geologic past. The rocks tell you about the environment they were deposited in, and the fossils are the remains of the plants and animals that inhabited them!

Use your detective skills as a paleontologist to piece together what your fossil's neighborhood might look like.

Click here to download the art contest entry form. Entries must be received by October 8th, 2014.

Contest Guidelines

Who can enter?

The contest is open to any U.S. resident of any age. Entries will be judged by a panel consisting of National Fossil Day partners and paleontologists.

What should my artwork include?

Your artwork or photograph should focus on the contest theme "Fossil Neighborhoods". Use the information above and the questions below to get started!

The artwork can be in the form of a sketch, painting, watercolor, photograph (black/white or color), or computer-generated image. All artwork must be 2D (two dimensional) and flat.

Be sure to include a sentence or two on your submission form explaining your ancient ecosystem.

Questions to help you get started...

  • What fossil would you like to travel back in time with?
  • How far back in time would you go with that fossil?
  • What would that fossil's neighborhood look like?
  • Would the neighborhood be underwater? In a forest? On the beach? Somewhere else?
  • Who would be that fossil's neighbors (other animals or plants)?
  • What would that fossil eat or need to survive?
  • Do you think ancient ecosystems were similar to ecosystems today?

How large should the artwork be?

All artwork should be able to fit inside a 13"x 17" envelope or smaller, or if submitting a digital photograph, the image should be no larger than 5 Mb.

What do I need to submit?

A valid submission will contain the following information:

  1. An original copy of the artwork. Each piece must be original, authentic, unpublished, the sole property of the entrant, and not previously submitted in any other contest. Make sure to include a sentence or two on your submission form (or on your artwork) explaining your ancient ecosystem and fossil neighborhood.
  2. Your personal information, printed on either the back of your artwork or on a separate sheet attached to your artwork:

    First and last name (as it appears on your entry form)
    Mailing address
    Phone number
    E-mail address

  3. A completed and signed entry form. Print out the entry form here and send it to us when you send your artwork. Entries cannot be accepted without a signed entry form (if under 18, a parent, guardian, or teacher must sign).
  4. Optional - If you would like to submit a digital photograph, send your personal information, along with your attached photo to with the subject line: NFD 2014 PHOTO CONTEST. You must also mail in a signed entry form.
  5. All mailed entry forms must be sent to:

    National Fossil Day 2014 Art Contest
    American Geosciences Institute
    4220 King Street
    Alexandria, VA 22302-1502

If you have any problems or questions regarding the art contest, please contact the National Fossil Day staff at

When is the deadline?

All submissions must be postmarked by 5 p.m. EST, Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 (one week BEFORE National Fossil Day). Entries postmarked later will not be eligible. Entries cannot be returned. American Geosciences Institute cannot confirm receipt of entries.

How will the artwork be judged?

The artwork will be judged by a panel on originality, creativity, quality and, most importantly, relevance to the topic. Submissions will be separated into and judged based upon the following age groups:

  • 8 years old or younger
  • 9 to 13 years old
  • 14 to 18 years old
  • 19 years old or above

Winning Art and Photographs?

The winning artworks and photographs for each category, and the 6 entries chosen to be National Fossil Candidates, will appear on the National Fossil Day website starting on or after October 15th, 2014. Check the National Fossil Day website to see if your work has been selected! To see last year's winners, click here.

If you have any problems or questions regarding the art contest, please contact the National Fossil Day staff at We look forward to your feedback!

Disclaimer: By submitting an entry, the entrant agrees to allow the National Park Service to use his or her name to post on the NPS's National Fossil Day Web site, without compensation unless prohibited. All entries and all rights of ownership in and to the entries, including all rights to use, reproduce, publish, modify, edit, and distribute the same will become the exclusive property of NPS and will not be returned. NPS reserves the right to edit, modify, copyright, publish, use, and reproduce any and all entries without further compensation. The National Park Service, its agents and contractor, are not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, incomplete, or postage-due entries. Contest void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Last updated: April 23, 2014