Top Left: Fossilized seashell, NPS photo
Top Right: Eupachydiscus, NPS photo
Bottom: sciaenidae, NPS photo

The national parks within Coastal Southern California have a unique and diverse assemblage of fossil materials that illuminate the natural history of the California coastal region. The diversity of the fauna alone, both marine and terrestrial, is extraordinary with some of the best Cenozoic fossil records in the National Park System and many specimens in remarkable preservation.

  • At Cabrillo National Monument, many discoveries have been found along the sea cliffs where the Point Loma and Cabrillo Formations are exposed. Fossils represent the Cretaceous deep-ocean deposits and contain marine fossils, including mollusks, gastropods and other invertebrates, sharks, fish, and armored plant-eating reptiles.
  • Paleontological resources from the Channel Islands, especially from the Pleistocene era, represent one of the best collections of marine avifauna on the Pacific coast, as well as several extinct species including the pygmy mammoth, flightless goose, vampire bat and two species of giant mouse. These resources offer opportunities to study speciation, evolution, and the effects of human colonization.
  • At least 2,300 known fossil localities occur in the Santa Monica Mountains. These localities represent over a dozen fossiliferous geologic formations, containing invertebrate, vertebrate, paleobotanical, protista and trace fossils, and range in age from the Late Jurassic to Pleistocene.

In all, 58 genera, species, or subspecific taxa have been named from park fossils here in Coastal Southern California, including seaweeds, mollusks, crabs, sea urchins, bony fish, mice, and mammoths.