Welcome! We know great science teaching is challenging, demanding of your time and resources. The Paleontology Portal can help you efficiently enhance or launch a high quality paleontology explanation. What follows is a quick summary of what you can find here:
An interactive map that provides an overview of the paleontology and geology of each state, province, and region of the United States, Canada, and Mexico through geologic time
A map showing the shapes and positions of land masses and oceans during that time period
Descriptions of the world geography and climate, and North American geology and paleontology, for that time period
Images of fossil organisms from a specific taxonomic group, state and/or time period
Information on significant fossil finds in North America
Links to general resources, information on careers and upcoming events, and data from fossil collections
Access to a searchable database that includes data from multiple museum collections
In addition, we recommend:
Prerequisites for student use
Students should be familiar with several topics before beginning an exploration of this site.
Evidence for Plate Tectonics
Understanding Geologic Time
Getting Into the Fossil Record
Cladistics and phylogeny:
What Did T. rex Taste Like?
Background information for teachers
Map Layer Info
Colors of the geologic time scale:
USGS Tapestry of Time and Terrain: explanation of the legend
Nature of science:
Understanding Evolution's Nature of Science
Sample activities for using the PaleoPortal
A set of inquiry-based activities that make use of the data within the PaleoPortal
- The Life Story of a Fossil (for grades 6-8)
In this lesson, students select an organism that existed during a specific geologic period in a specific
state in the United States. Students then imagine themselves as that organism and use resources to write
a story that describes their life, death, and entry into the fossil record.
- A Cross-Country Trip in the Old Days (for grades 6-12)
In this lesson, students examine the fossil and geologic records across a transect of the United States
during a single period of time. By examining the evidence, they make inferences as to the paleoenvironment
of that time and predict what additional evidence they might find in neighboring states.
- Paleoenvironmental Booklet (for grades 6-12)
In this lesson, students will use information about rock types and fossils found in a particular state to
make inferences about the paleoenvironment of the location throughout Earth's history. Students will produce
a booklet with information about the paleoenvironment during each Period, as well as an illustration of the
location during that time.
About the Paleontology Portal
Take a Tour of the Paleontology Portal