The Department of Paleontology houses collections of fossil vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants collected primarily from Mesozoic- through Cenozoic-aged sites in southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. Information about these specimens can be accessed by searching our online collections database.
Important collections of Paleozoic invertebrates from the eastern United States are also part of the department's holdings. Especially important are the department's collections of marine vertebrates including one of the largest and most diverse assemblages of Pliocene (2-4 million years old, Ma) marine mammals (whales, dolphins, fur seals and walruses) in North America. Also significant are collections of Eocene (40-50 Ma) and Oligocene (28-30 Ma) land mammal fossils from southern California localities.
Presently the collections include over 137,000 numbered species lots. These lots vary in size from single specimens (e.g., an isolated mammal tooth) to suites of specimens (e.g., 300 shells of a particular species of marine snail), and represent over 1.4 million specimens. The specimens have been recovered from over 5,400 recorded collecting localities, primarily from southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. There are 574 primary and 730 secondary types
Significant contributions include the Anthony Vogdes collection of trilobites and his geological library in 1923; a purchase of fossil vertebrates from noted collector Charles Sternberg in 1920; and the Plio-Pleistocene mollusk collection of geologist U. S. Grant, IV.
The collections may be used by appointment only. Please contact us to arrange a visit to our collections.
Download the Paleontology Collections Access Guidelines (PDF).