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County of San Bernardino

Geological Sciences

How to Excavate a Fossil - Online Exhibit

The Barstow Fossil Beds - Online Exhibit

Geological Sciences Research

The Division of Geological Sciences encompasses paleontology, mineralogy and geology,  and a library of geological references, periodicals, journals, and gray literature.

The Division of Geological Sciences holds more than half a million fossils of extinct vertebrates and invertebrates, primarily from the southwestern United States with an emphasis on San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The Division has nearly 200,000 specimens recorded in a computer database with associated contextual information, and is currently in the process of upgrading this database. Collections of particular interest include:

  • late Pleistocene fossils from Diamond Valley Lake outside of Hemet in Riverside County, as well as other sites throughout the inland valley area;
  • later Pliocene to late Pleistocene fossils from throughout the Mojave Desert, including Kokoweef Cave, Antelope Cave, the Fort Irwin region, the Piute Valley, Valley Wells, Daggett, and the Victorville/Hesperia region of San Bernardino County;
  • middle Pliocene to middle Pleistocene fossils from the San Timoteo Badlands along the San Jacinto Fault Zone in Riverside County;
  • early Pliocene and early to middle Pleistocene fossils from Murrieta and Temecula along the Elsinore Fault Zone in Riverside County;
  • middle Miocene vertebrate fossils and fossil trackways from in and around the Barstow Fossil Beds, type locality for the Barstovian North American Land Mammal Age;
  • later Jurassic dinosaur trackways from the easternmost Mojave Desert.

Fossils from these sites have greatly expanded knowledge of the fossil animals and plants that roamed southern California thousands and millions of years ago. Studies of these fossils by the Division of Geological Sciences have resulted in the discovery and description of new taxa, as well as the expansion of our knowledge of the geographic range and morphological variation of established species. These investigations have also enabled the staff of the Division of Geological Sciences to advance new interpretations regarding the sequence and timing of deposition of fossil-bearing strata throughout southern California.

The Regional Paleontologic Locality Inventory (RPLI) is a computer database with positional and contextual data for more than 3,000 fossils localities from throughout California and the southwestern United States.  For the protection of the resources, and in accordance with the guidelines of applicable agencies, access to the RPLI is  available only to qualified researchers.

Mineral collections are from the southwest: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Baja California, with a strong worldwide component for comparison. Collections are organized by mineral chemistry (modified Dana system) and by locality suites. The Dana suites have strengths in carbonates, sulfates, borates, arsenates, phosphates, vanadates and molybdates. Localities are well represented in San Bernardino County, southern Nevada and Arizona. The mineral collection includes 55,000 specimens and 10,000 micromounts.

The Geology Library centers on the geology of the three western states. The library contains about 500 volumes, 34,600 serial publications, and 150,000 pages of reprints.

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San Bernardino County Museum - (909) 307-2669 - 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, California 92374

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The information contained in the following pages was valid at the time of publication. The County of San Bernardino, Museum Department reserves the right to make changes and improvements at any time and without notice, and assumes no liability for damages incurred directly or indirectly as a result of errors, omissions or discrepancies. Please contact the webmaster with comments or suggestions.
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