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Geology/Paleontology Collections

The geology collections's over 200,000 specimens include 60 type and figured invertebrates, 6 fish types, and over 600 type and figured plant fossils. Also represented is a strong collection of Carboniferous fossils from the scientifically and nationally significant Mazon Creek and Rock Island areas of Illinois. Rocks and minerals in the collection number over 6,700 specimens.

The vertebrate paleontology collection is one of the best Late Quaternary mammal fossil collections (50,000+ specimens) in North America. It is especially rich in Pleistocene-aged fossils from the American Midwest.

Geology Collections Online

Explore the Ice Age Midwest
This site provides information about the Wisconsinan glaciation, also known as the "last Ice Age" in the Midwestern U.S. Here, you will find information about the plants and animals that lived in the Midwest between roughly 110,000 and 13,000 years ago. You will also learn more about what glaciers are, how they operate, and how they change the landscape. Finally, you will learn more about how scientists reconstruct the past using evidence from fossils, isotopes, plant remains, and changes in the landscape. 

Illinois State Museum Geology Flickr Gallery
This gallery of images features identified fossils and minerals, as well as photographs of Illinois State Museum research on two Illinois Mammouth discoveries. 

Making a Giant Ground Sloth
Learn about the Jefferson’s Ground Slothand how the Museum fabricated a replica skeleton of this Ice Age giant for its Changes exhibition.

Mazon Creek Collections Database
Explore the Museum’s online Mazon Creek fossil database. Mazon Creek fossils are named for the collecting area in northeastern Illinois where many of the best specimens are found. They are an important source of information about the plants and animals that inhabited this part of North America around 300 million years ago.