Photograph of a trilobite fossil.

Fossils of the United States

What used to live here?

From trilobites to dinosaurs, the United States has an incredibly rich fossil record that tells the story of how ancient animals and plants evolved, lived, and went extinct.

Click on the maps below to find out more about the fossils that have been found near where you live or places that you have visited. These are divided by physiographic province (regions unified by their topography and geologic history). More regions will be added in the near future, so check back again soon!


Map showing the major physiographic regions of the contiguous United States.

Major physiographic regions of the United States.

Fossils of the Western United States, including Hawaiʻi

Explore the fossil record of California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaiʻi.

Photograph of the rear end of the trilobite Nevadia parvoconica from the Cambrian of Nevada. The sides of the animal has a series of spines that curve backward. The spines are orange in color and stand out from the gray rock matrix.

A trilobite (Nevadia parvoconica), Indian Springs Lagerstätte, Early Cambrian Poleta Formation, Esmeralda County, Nevada. Photo by Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) on GBIF.org (CC0 1.0 Universal/Public Domain Dedication).




Fossils of the Southwestern United States

Explore the fossil record of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

Photograph of a juvenile sauropod skeleton in a death pose partially embedded in rock. The sauropod has a long neck, a small head and is quadrapedal (walks on all fours). The tail is arched upward.

Skeleton of a juvenile Camarosaurs lentus, a type of sauropod, from the Carnegie Quarry, Jurassic Morrison Formation, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah and Colorado. Photo by James St. John (flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, image cropped and resized).



Fossils of the South-Central United States

Explore the fossil record of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.

Photograph of a short-necked plesiosaur skeleton on display at the Sternberg Museum, Kansas.

The short-necked plesiosaur Dolichorhynchops osborni from the Cretaceous Smoky Hill Chalk of Logan County, Kansas. Specimen on display at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Ft. Hays, Kansas.



Fossils of the Southeastern United States

Explore the fossil record of West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

Photograph of the fossil nautiloid Aturia alabamensis.

Internal mold of the nautiloid Aturia alabamensis (Eocene, Florida) on display at the Florida Museum of Natural History (UF 418).