San Diego Natural History Museum
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FOSSIL MYSTERIESGeologic Timeline: The last 144 million years of Earth's 4.6 billion year history.


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Fossil Mysteries: Overview - Opens July 1, 2006

Fossil Mysteries, a highly interactive exhibition, explores big themes in science: evolution, extinction, ecology, and Earth processes. Abundant fossils, models, murals, and dioramas offer unique multi-sensory experiences. You'll see the world—past and present—in a whole new way.

Pleistocene Epoch 1.8 million-10,000 years ago.
Pliocene Epoch 5-1.8 million years ago.
Miocene Epoch 24-5 million years ago.
Oligocene Epoch 34-24 million years ago.
Eocene Epoch 53-34 million years ago.
Paleocene Epoch 65-55 million years ago.
Cretaceous/Tertiary Boundary Rock, 65 million years ago.
Cretaceous Period 144-65 million years ago.
Earth's history began 4.6 billion years ago.
MYA = million years ago.

Explore! Touch!

  • Look at and touch real fossils and rocks—the clues to solve countless mysteries.
  • Assemble a story about a dinosaur's life, death, burial, and discovery.
  • Examine and identify microfossils.
  • Move like an animal or build an animal!
  • Make the Earth change shape by moving interactive models.
  • Imagine prehistoric plants and animals that lived in southern California and Baja California.
  • Find survivors of the past.

Ponder mysteries such as:

  • Where are the dinosaurs in our region?
  • How did prehistoric animals evolve?
  • How did they live, move, and interact?
  • What did they eat?
  • How did our region take shape?
  • How did mass extinction reset the world stage?
  • Why did some animals become extinct?
  • How do fossils relate to our lives today?

Discover a world full of change in Fossil Mysteries.

For a quick tour of the exhibit, visit our interactive map.
For more about the exhibition, see our in-depth description.

Exhibit photographs: François Gohier