Fossils

Marine fossils come in many shapes and sizes. They range from early whale and dolphin bones to megaladon teeth that help us learn about the first sharks, and even small single-celled foraminifera.

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On a beach in Piña, Panama the tide is rolling out. Faint outlines of skeletal remains rise above the sand. Smithsonian scientists Nicholas Pyenson and Aaron O'Dea along with a team of students descend...
Smithsonian curator of fossil marine mammals Nick Pyenson and a team of...
Blog entry MORE STORIES Blog entry MORE AUDIO / VIDEO
The whales that we see in today's world can broadly be split into two groups:...
Blog entry MORE STORIES Blog entry MORE AUDIO / VIDEO
One of the ocean's tiniest organisms often does the most harm. Microscopic...

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Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi , unnamed protocetid, Ocucajea...
How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from...
This well-preserved fossil is the only intact partial skull ever found of a...

DIVE DEEPER

When you're standing in a museum surrounded by fossils, you can almost imagine drifting through time to when long-extinct...
Opabinia was a strange looking creature: it had five mushroom-like eyes that allowed it to see predators approaching from many directions.
Paeleobiologist Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), set out with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NMNH Research Student and Ph...
These deep-sea sediment cores were drilled from beneath the seafloor, and hold information about millions of years of ocean and atmospheric chemistry. As dirt, dead organisms, and other particles...
Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi ,...
Paeleobiologist Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), set out with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NMNH Research Student and Ph...
The evolution of whales represents one of the great stories in macroevolution. It's a narrative that has mostly benefitted from an extraordinary series of fossils recovered from rocks around the...
When you're standing in a museum surrounded by fossils, you can almost imagine drifting through time to when long-extinct creatures swam the ocean. Found all over the world, these fossils can be read...
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