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Vertebrate Paleontology is the study of ancient animals that have backbones (a vertebral column) including sharks, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Vertebrate paleontologists study these fossils to understand how organisms and environments have changed through time.

The Natural History Museum’s Age of Mammals exhibit features Cenozoic fossils from the Vertebrate Paleontology collections. Behind-the-scenes our cabinets house over 150,000 cataloged fossil vertebrate specimens, representing every major group of vertebrates from around the world and spanning in age from the Ordovician (about 450 million years ago) to the late Pleistocene (10 thousand years ago).

In addition, the Vertebrate Paleontology Department is actively collecting fossils as near as downtown LA and as far away as Tibet.  Scholarly research employs cutting-edge technology like CT scans and photogrammetry, while painstaking laboratory preparation cleans fossils by hand.  All of these efforts require human and financial resources.  Your contributions are greatly appreciated.

Support the Vertebrate Paleontology Department by making a donation to the Museum Fund today!


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