Fossil Resources on Public Lands
Did You Know?
99 percent of all organisms that ever lived are believed to be extinct.
Many of the fossils that you see in museums all over the country came from your public lands.
The BLM's Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is home to the largest concentration of large meat-eating dinosaurs ever found.
Paleontologists, both professional and amateur, as well as concerned citizens like you, make these exciting discoveries possible.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regards fossil resources as a fragile, nonrenewable scientific record. The history of life on earth is an important component of America's natural heritage. If these resources are damaged, destroyed or improperly collected, their scientific and educational value may be greatly reduced or lost forever. Learn More
What is a Fossil?
A fossil is any evidence of past life, including remains, traces, imprints as well as life history artifacts. Examples of artifacts include fossilized bird's nests, bee hives, etc.
What is Paleontology?
Paleontology is the study of fossils, the remains or traces of any ancient organism. Through the careful collection and study of our nations fossils, we can learn the story of nearly 4-billion years of the earths history.
Where Can I See Fossils on Public Lands?
Fossils can be found in every western state with BLM lands. To find out more you can contact one or our BLM State Offices . Many states also have areas that are open to the public for visitation and interpretation of fossil resouces. Check out BLM's Adventures in the Past web page for more information.
Can I Collect Fossils?
On private lands, fossils may only be collected with the permission of the landowner. However, on public lands, unless otherwise posted, collectors can collect a wide variety of fossils within certain restrictions. Learn More
How can I help preserve our fossil heritage?
You can help preserve fossils for everyone to enjoy by:
• looking, but not touching.
• Admire them, but don’t walk directly on them, or ride bikes or drive vehicles over them.
• Take photographs or make drawings.
• Measure them, but don’t draw on or around them with chalk or anything else.
• Never try to remove the fossil or take pieces of them.
• Never try to make a replica by putting anything in or on the fossil.
• If you find fossils you think may be new discoveries, record their location and pass your information on to your local BLM office. Specialists can then document your find, make scientific observations, and take photographs. Computers and special cameras can make three-dimensional digital images that will last forever, even after the tracks have eroded away.
If you see anyone attempting to damage fossils, please call a BLM law enforcement office. Rewards are offered for the arrest and conviction of individuals who damage, destroy, or steal vertebrate fossils from your public lands.
Your help is vital in preserving America’s natural heritage!
How Can I Learn More?
If you have questions check out these additional BLM web pages or contact your local BLM State Office.