Digital Atlas of Ancient Life App version 2.0 now available for free download

Digital Atlas App

The Digital Atlas of Ancient Life App takes the content from the web versions of the Digital Atlases of Ancient Life fossil field guides and translates it to those handheld devices humans seem to be increasingly tethered to: our smart phones.

The creators of the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life recognized that the general public and educators might sometimes want to identify fossils in the field, where they likely don't have wi-fi or cell service. The Digital Atlas of Ancient Life App was developed to address this problem.


The App provides a version of the content available online, but abridged and adapted for what computer folks refer to as the ‘handheld device environment.’ On the App, images of species are available just as with the online version, split up by taxonomic category starting at the level of phylum. Options are available to browse groups of species as well; the maps that are available on the App are somewhat more detailed than those in the online version.


Screenshots from the Neogene portion of the Digital Atlas App.

Further, the App provides content for major groups of invertebrate fossils from four major time periods and geographic regions in the United States: the Ordovician of the Cincinnatian region, the Pennsylvanian of the Mid-Continent, and the Neogene of the southeast, as well as invertebrate and vertebrate groups for the Cretaceous of the American Midwest and High Plains, just as the website provides.

The App is free and available for both iPhone and Android.

Download now

iPhone (iOS)

The development of the Digital Atlas App was supported by National Science Foundation grants through the Emerging Frontiers and Advancing the Digitization of Biological Collections programs that created the PALEONICHES – Thematic Collections Network (TCN) and the Cretaceous World TCN, respectively. It was programmed by Rod and Zach Spears of Lawrence, KS.

Images of species and information about their distribution comes from collections at the American Museum of Natural History, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Fort Hays State University, the Miami (Ohio) University, the Ohio Univesity, the Paleontological Research Institution, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, the University of Colorado, the University of Florida, the University of Kansas, the University of New Mexico, the University of Texas, and Yale University.

For media interviews and stories about the Digital Atlas App check out:

KU professor helps develop app that identifies fossils”, write up and interview on fossil app, Lawrence-Journal World, Lawrence, KS, March 2, 2020.

There are millions of fossils in Kansas. Here’s how you can find one”, article and radio interview on fossil app for KMUW 89.1, Wichita, KS NPR station, March 2, 2020.

Dig It”, interview about work on Digital Atlas of Ancient Life “App” featured, KCUR 89.3 Kansas City, MO, on Central Standard, NPR radio show, premiered November 19, 2015.

“App for Finding Fossils”, interview and work on Digital Atlas of Ancient Life “App” featured, 6News Lawrence, local television show, premiered October 19, 2015.

“Free App Empowers Public to Locate, Recognize Ancient Fossils”, work on Digital Atlas of Ancient Life “App” mentioned,, column covering physics, astronomy, and biology topics of broad public interest, premiered October 15, 2015, and also at Mental Floss.