Gateway Science Museum

Fossils & Formations

Visitors to Gateway Science Museum are welcomed by our saber-tooth cat and short-faced bear fossil replicas. These ancient California mammals guide us through our new paleontology exhibit! This exploration is a collaborative effort between Gateway Science Museum, the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at California State University, Chico, and designer Bart Hays.

Learn more about these exciting fossil finds and how you can pursue a career in paleontology on the Chico State GEOS website!(opens in new window)

Journey with us into the rich fossil record of this region!

Through fossil evidence, observe the transformation of California's landscapes over millions of years. Dive into deep waters from when California was submerged in an ancient sea and uncover whales, sharks and marine reptiles. As time passes the shoreline recedes, revealing shells and plants where freshwater rivers meet the sea. Millions of years later, California's shoreline is similar to today's and megafauna roam the state - camels, horses, and mammoths.

Visitors to “Fossils and Formations” experience a hands-on learning experience as we explore the evolutionary and geological history of the region. Interact with displays of fossil specimens from the Chico State Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences and participate in fossil preparation activities. We can look closer with our Micro-Eye to view tiny fossils and observe greater detail.


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Photos by Jason Halley


Fossils Lab

Watch live fossil prep and chat with our scientists in residence!

Fossils Lab Hours Fall 2022:

Fridays 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Sean Nies preparing fossil

Fossils & Formations T-Shirts!

 fossils and formations shirts on display in the museumShow your support for your favorite fossil friend with Gateway's new Fossils & Formations shirts! Are you team ammonite, ichthyosaur, mastodon, or short-faced bear? Available in small through x-large, also available in youth sizes.

MWOW Archive

Learn more about this discovery and the history of our region by watching this fall's Museum Without Walls Lecture series "Fossils, Formations & Extinctions" in our MWOW Archive.

Blue Dot Ep. 217 Presented by NSPR

A Conversation with Russel Shapiro

Dave talks to Russell Shapiro, a geology professor at California State University at Chico. Dr. Shapiro has a fascinating array of interests and adventures from seeking evidence for ancient life on Earth to helping NASA craft science goals searching for evidence of ancient life on Mars.

Shapiro is also a seasoned paleontologist who regularly works in the field and recently helped uncover one of the great fossil finds in California history, unearthing Miocene period mammals that dominated the California landscape sometime between 5 and 20 million years ago.


Show your fossil fascination by supporting this exhibit!

This exhibit is made possible through generous donations from our community. Consider supporting Gateway(opens in new window) as we develop this one-of-a-kind exhibit!

Exhibit Sponsors

Mastodon: $10,000

  • Butte Agricultural Foundation

Smilodon: $2,500

  • Cheryl & Jeff Armstrong
  • Sarah Blackstone

Ichthyosaur: $1,000

  • David & Hilary Hassenzahl
  • Diana & Jeffrey Lobosky
  • Judy Sitton
  • Kathryn Colburn & Peter Magnusson
  • Marcia Moore
  • Ron & Sharon Whitman
  • Thomas & Andie Motta
  • Walter & Dawn Kusumoto

Ammonite: $500

  • Darrel & Susan Cresswell
  • Joan Stewart-Thorpe
  • Joe & Brenda Crotts
  • John Nock
  • Landa & Bill Carson
  • Rena Duhl & Steve Robinow
  • William & Melina Patrick

Trilobite: $ 250

  • Albert & Bonnie King
  • Alex & Sara Pallas
  • Brady Haynes
  • Candy Solari
  • Carol & Monroe Sprague
  • Cheryl & Michael Babler
  • Chris Mitchell
  • Elisabeth Stewart
  • Francine Sherman
  • Holly Sitton
  • Jackie & Thomas McClain
  • Jan Cooley-Dilg
  • Janet & Stephen Pearce
  • JoAnn Morgan
  • John & Lauree Asarian
  • Kory & Jennifer Honea
  • Makel Engineering, Inc.
  • Marcie Nelson & Kenneth Gall
  • Northern California National Bank
  • Richard Fish
  • Steven Hirsch
  • Teresa & Mark Davis
  • Tom & Marsha Martin
  • William & Paula Rich

Crinoid: $100

  • Adrienne McGraw
  • Allen Lunde
  • Damon Fadale
  • Elizabeth Cadd
  • Fernando & Stacie Corona
  • Florin Barnhart
  • Greg Liggett
  • Gwen Grifal
  • JaNae & Matthew McLaughlin
  • Janice Keating
  • Jeanne & Todd Greene
  • Michael Schaeffer
  • Ken Fleming
  • Lori & Ken Rice
  • Mike Donelly & Mary Anne Pella-Donnelly
  • Michael & Robin Cook
  • Michelle Powers
  • Spencer Doty
  • Tammy & Raymond Barnett
  • Veronica Burke

As of October 2021