Welcome to the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life

Identify fossils and explore the diversity and history of life on Earth


What's new?

American Paleontologist Newsletter!

April 4, 2024

Interested in learning more about paleontology and paleontologists? Become a member of the Paleontological Research Institution to receive the new electronic American Paleontologist Newsletter. The first issue is free for everyone.

American Paleontologist Newsletter

August 12, 2022

A new page on Nearest Living Relative methods has been added to the paleoecology chapter. NLR methods use the nearest living modern relatives of fossil plants in order to estimate paleoclimate.

Explore here
Photograph of the cycad Dioon spinulosum in a greenhouse. The photograph shows a palm-like plant with a single columnar trunk and flush of elongate, pinnately compound leaves. The trunk is covered with leaf bases.

June 24, 2022

A new page on Leaf Margin Analysis (LMA) has been added to the paleoecology chapter. LMA is a technique used to estimate mean annual temperature using fossil leaves of flowering trees and shrubs.

Explore here
2-panel image showing photos of Green River plant fossils. Panel 1: Photograph of a display of plant fossils made up of a series of rectangular blocks of rock with fossils mounted on a wall. Right: Photograph of a fossil Macginitea leaf, a palmately lobed leaf with five lobes and a toothed margin.

May 23, 2022

Undergraduate students at the University of Kansas have created a series of videos that explain the idea of punctuated equilibrium and stasis, as well as its connections to macroevolutionary theory.

Image showing a model of punctuated equilibrium.

We need your support

Continued development and maintenance of the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life and the Paleontological Research Institution's (PRI's) broader Earth@Home project depends on support from visitors like you.

Donations of any amount are welcome.


Regional field guides to fossils

Logo for the Ordovician Atlas of Ancient Life Fossils Paleontology
Logo for the Pennsylvanian Atlas of Ancient Life Fossils Paleontology
Logo for the Cretaceous Atlas of Ancient Life Fossils Paleontology
Logo for the Neogene Atlas of Ancient Life Fossils Paleontology

Need help identifying your fossil discoveries?
Access Digital Atlas field guides to fossils from particular time periods and regions by selecting from the guides above, or by downloading Version 2.0 of the free Digital Atlas of Ancient Life App, available now for iOS and Android devices.

Interactive, 3D models of fossil and modern specimens. 

Virtual Exhibits

Explore virtual museum exhibits about different topics in natural history

New: Our first virtual exhibit, "Survivors: Up Close with Living Fossils," is online now. Explore here.

Logo of the "Survivors: Up Close with Living Fossils" exhibit

Classroom lesson plans, activities, and associated materials that relate to the Ordovician, Cretaceous, and Neogene Atlases. All of these resources may be freely accessed and downloaded here.