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Paleontology at the Burke

Paleontology is the study of past life forms, based on plant and animal fossils and their geological contexts. Paleontologists use fossil remains to trace the evolutionary history of extinct and living organisms and to study past climates.

The Burke Museum's paleontological collections contain more than 3 million specimens of fossil invertebrates, vertebrates, plants, single-celled protists, trace fossils, and modern mollusks. A portion of these collections is on display in the museum galleries.

Explore Paleoentology Collection
Skull of Hoplophoneus
Skull of Hoplophoneus sp. (UWBM 87094) Oligocene, ~30 million years old.

Featured in Paleontology

Palebiology at UW

Paleobiology at UW, which began in 1907, has undergone significant expansion in recent years

Puget Sound Foram Research Project

Single-celled organism that feed on minute particles in the sound


Northwest Origins: The Geologic History of Washington State
This online resource provides an excellent overview of Pacific Northwest geology.

The Burgess Shale: Evolution's Big Bang
The Burke Museum brings the Smithsonian exhibit, The Burgess Shale: Evolution's Big Bang to Seattle November 20, 2004 – March 7, 2005. Burgess Shale tells the story of the most important fossil site discovery in western North America, including mysterious and still controversial creatures unlike any known today.

Dinosaurs of Darkness
See recently discovered dinosaurs that lived in the extreme polar regions of the globe—where darkness reigned in winter and temperatures plunged below freezing.

Life and Times of Washington State
A hands-on adventure through time, including skeletons of a stegosaurus, mastodon, and saber-toothed cat.