San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[BRCC San Diego Natural History Museum: Paleontology]
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Photo of fossil shell

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.

Presently the collections include over 108,000 numbered species lots. The specimens have been recovered from a total of 2,890 recorded collecting localities, primarily from southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. There are 578 primary and 537 secondary types. Search the online Collection Database.

The collection is under the care of Tom Deméré, Ph.D., Curator of the Paleontology Department and Director of the Department of PaleoServices (PaleoServices). The curatorship of the Paleontology Department is endowed as the Joshua L. Baily, Jr., Chair of Paleontology.

Services Available

PaleoServices is a consulting arm of the museum specializing in the collection, salvage, preparation, and curation of paleontological resources (fossils) from development-slated acreage. Services also include paleontological resource assessment of property (residential, commercial, municipal), relevant to environmental impact studies. Contact Dr. Tom Deméré at 619.255.0232. Email: paleoservices@sdnhm.org.

Articles and Local Finds

 

Recent Proboscidean Discoveries —September 2007 Webcast (with Adobe Presenter™)
A Thousand Words —July/August 2005
Fossil Insects and Crustaceans—December 2005
Excavation site in Oceanside reveals fossils of mammoth, mastodont, and tapir—August 2002
San Diego's Ancient Shorelines—June 2002
Silent Beaches: Ancient Lake Cahuilla and its geologic setting—June 2002
The Elusive Pliocene Rocky Shore—June 2002
Unusual Eocene Invertebrate Fossils Found in Oceanside—August 2001
Fossil Walrus Remains Found at Otay Ranch —October 2001
Baleen Whale Skeletons and Columbian Mammoth—October 2001
Skull of Giant Pliocene Sea Cow Discovered at Otay Ranch—May 2000
Fossil Snake Discovered—May 2000
Pliocene Era Whale Uncovered—February 2000
Pleistocene Mammal Discoveries—November 1999
SDNHM excavation: Pliocene Fossils—April 1999
Balboa Park: Pliocene Clams—May 1998
Chula Vista: fossil whale skull—March 1998

Selected SDNHM Publications

DEMÉRÉ, T.A., M.R. McGowen, A. Berta, and J. Gatesy. 2008.
Morphological and molecular evidence for a stepwise evolutionary transition from teeth to baleen in mysticete cetaceans. Systematic Biology 57:15-37.

WALSH, S.L. 2008.
The Neogene: origin, adoption, evolution, and controversy. Earth Science Reviews 89:42-72.

WALSH, S.L. and J. E. Storer. 2008.
Cylindrodontidae; pp. 336-354 in C.M. Janis, G.F. Gunnell, and M.D. Uhen (eds.), Evolution of Tertiary Mammals of North America, Volume 2: Small Mammals, Xenarthrans, and Marine Mammals. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

DEMÉRÉ, T.A. and A. BERTA. 2005.
New skeletal material of Thalassoleon (Otariidae:Pinnipedia) from the late Miocene-Early Pliocene (Hemphillian) of California. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History 45(4): 379-411 (2.0 MB *PDF file).

DEMÉRÉ, T.A. 2006. Chapter 2, The Imperial Sea: Marine Geology and Paleontology, Pp. 29-41. In G.T. Jefferson and L. Lindsay (eds.) Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert. Sunbelt Publications, Inc., San Diego, CA (1.3 MB *PDF file)

DEMÉRÉ, T.A. and N.S. RUGH. 2006. Chapter 3, Invertebrates of the Imperial Sea, Pp. 43-69. In G.T. Jefferson and L. Lindsay (eds.) Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert. Sunbelt Publications, Inc., San Diego, CA (.4 MB *PDF file).

CASSILIANO, Michael L. 2002.
Revision of the Stratigraphic Nomenclature of the Plio-Pleistocene Palm Spring Group (New Rank), Anza-Borrego Desert, Southern California*, 30 April 2002. 30 p. illus., fold-out map. Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History #38. (*1.5MB PDF file)

WALSH, Stephen L. 2000.
Bunodont artiodactyls (Mammalia) from the Uintan (Middle Eocene) of San Diego County, California. 30 September 2000. 27 p. illus. Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History #37.

WALSH, Stephen L. 1998.
Notes on the Anterior Dentition and Skull of Proterixoides (Mammalia: Insectivora: Dormaaliidae), and a New Dormaaliid Genus from the Early Uintan (Middle Eocene) of Southern California. 31 January 1998. 26 p. Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History #34.

WALSH, Stephen L. 1997.
New Specimens of Metanoiamys, Pauromys, and Simimys (Rodentia: Myomorpha) from the Uintan (middle Eocene) of San Diego County, California, and Comments on the Relationships of Selected Paleogene Myomorpha. 30 June 1997, 20 p. San Diego Society of Natural History #32.

BERTA, Annalisa & DEMÉRÉ, Thomas A. 1994.
Contributions in Marine Mammal Paleontology Honoring Frank C. Whitmore, Jr., 1 May 1994, 268 p. illus. Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History #29.

Volunteer Opportunities

Specimen preparation and other routine collections management tasks are carried out by carefully selected, skilled volunteers. See our Volunteer pages to learn more.

About Paleontology

If you want to learn more about the paleontology and geology of our region, see our Resources page. You'll find a wide range of essays from the geologic history visible in the excavation for our museum expansion, to Dinosaurs of San Diego County, and How to Cast a T. rex.

*If unable to open the PDF document, please download Adobe Acrobat Reader.