National Fossil Day

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Today is the first official National Fossil Day. Organized by the National Parks Service and the American Geological Institute, National Fossil Day was created to,

promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values.

Fossils, the petrified, preserved remains of plants, animals and other organisms, tell us what the world was like throughout deep time – the estimated 3.5 billion years that life has existed on Earth. You’d be surprised what can become a fossil: bone, tracks, impressions, burrows, eggshells, and even poop! The oldest fossils paleontologists know of so far are bacteria, fossilized mats of cyanobacteria called stromatolites – 3.4 billion years old. We even have fossilized stromatolites here in northern Colorado. Not quite as old, but just as cool. Fossils are the story of life recorded in the Earth, and if that’s not a reason to celebrate with a dinosaur cupcake, what is?




How else can you celebrate National Fossil Day? Here are some ideas:

Places to Visit

In Colorado, there are plenty of places to go and see fossils, including:

  • Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
  • Black Canyon of the GunnisonNational Park
  • Colorado National Monument
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Yucca House National Monument

If you can’t travel all the way to a park, stop by a natural history and/or science museum. The Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center has a great fossil exhibit for children, and just wait until you see the exhibit in our new museum!

And if you don’t live in Colorado, no problem! There are 230 Fossils Parks run by the NPS – chances are there’s one not too far from you.


Stegosaurus, Colorado's State Fossil


Books to Read

There are hundreds of books on fossils; here are just a few of the good ones. Be sure to check your local library for more.

For some Colorado-specific fossil books, try reading:

However you decide to celebrate National Fossil Day, be sure you understand the laws that protect fossils, and where collecting is legal before you try to find any of your own.

What would be your perfect way to enjoy National Fossil Day?

October 2010

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