Our Butterfly Pavilion and Nature Gardens are now open, and tickets are sold out for the season. The inside of the museum remains closed. Advanced timed-tickets are required for members and non-members. See NHMLAC's response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Paleontology at NHM

pregnant plesiosaur in dinosaur hall

From Bone to Stone

Fossils are the evidence that paleontologists use to learn about life in the past. Fossils form only under very special conditions. Most animals and plants that die do not become fossils!

Fossils can form in many ways. Most dinosaur fossils were preserved through a process where bits of minerals in sediment fill in tiny open spaces in bone (or other organic tissue), slowly replacing the original material. Eventually, it becomes a rock in the shape of the bone!

Want to learn more? Click here to see how our Museum paleontologists excavate fossils in the field, as well as here at NHM!