For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.
Paleontology in the National Parks
The principal mission of the National Park Service is the preservation, protection, and stewardship of natural and historic resources "in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Fossils and the natural geologic processes which form, preserve, and expose them are included in this mission.
Paleontological resources, or fossils, are any remains of past life preserved in geologic context. There are two main types of fossils: body fossils and trace fossils. Body fossils arethe physical remains of ancient organisms (shells, bones, teeth, plant leaves, etc.) while trace fossils preserve evidence of an organism's activity or behavior (footprints, trackways, burrows, coprolites, etc.). Fossils are non-renewable natural resources that possess great scientific, educational, and interpretive value.
More than 240 National Park Service areas are known to contain fossils either in the rocks of the park, in the park's museum collections, or in cultural contexts (such as petrified wood projectile points). Only 14 of these parks were established specifically to preserve fossils. Fossils from parks collectively span every period of geologic history from stromatolites one billion years old at Glacier National Park to Ice Age fossils in various Alaskan parks. Many of these fossils represent rare, specimens and assemblages which are often nationally or globally significant..
More than 243 National Park Service areas preserve fossils. Learn about the fossil parks and the NPS fossils through geologic time. Learn more...
NPS Paleontology Program
The NPS Paleontology Program's core function is to provide parks the guidance and tools necessary to understand and manage their paleontological resources. Coming soon...
Learn about our nation's fossils and fossil parks at home or in the classroom with lessons, activities, and graphics developed by education specialists in the National Park Service. Learn more...
National Fossil Day is a celebration organized by the National Park Service and the American Geosciences Institute to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values. Learn more...
The NPS Paleontology Publications page compiles research volumes, articles, park surveys, thematic surveys, and network surveys relating to NPS paleontological resources. Learn more...
NPS Paleontology Interns have a unique opportunity to contribute to a variety of important research, resource management, interpretation and education projects. Learn more...
- Paleontological Resources Preservation Act
- Links to Paleontology Museums and Partners
- Geologic Heritage Preservation in the NPS
- Geology Parks Tour
- Official State Fossils
- Historic Documents Collection—NPS Geology
- Other Useful Resources and Links
Last Updated: December 09, 2013