For the more information about the geologic resources of the National Park Service, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/.
More than 260 National Park Service areas preserve fossils. At a national park, you can stand in the exact spot where a fossil tree was rooted or where a fossil animal walked millions of years ago. Some parks also preserve fossils in building stones or in association with American Indian artifacts.
Since 1916, The Organic Act has directed parks to "conserve the scenery" and natural objects, including fossils. In 2009, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act was signed into law, requiring parks to manage and protect fossils for scientific and educational values.
Fossils are irreplaceable! Fossils are non-renewable—we are not making any more Tyrannosaurus rex fossils. Park staff and paleontologists work together to maintain fossils for scientific study and public education. It is exciting to find a fossil, but important to protect it. If you find a fossil in a park, leave the fossil where it is, take a photo, and share your discovery with a park ranger. Removing fossils from the sites where they were found will result in most of the interesting and valuable information about that fossil being lost forever.
National Park System units with documented paleontological resources include sites where fossils occur in-place in the rock (in situ), in museum collections, and/or within a cultural context. Learn more...
The Geologic Time Scale is a way of organizing Earth's 4.5 billion-year history. The time scale is divided into four large periods of time—the Precambrian, Paleozoic Era, Mesozoic Era, and Cenozoic Era. National parks preserve fossils from each of these time blocks. Learn more...
Many National Park units have made information about their fossils and paleontology programs available on the Internet. Follow these links to learn more about educational programs and fossil resources in the National Parks. 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...
- 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: April 17, 2014