The Science Museum of Minnesota worked with the San Diego Natural History Museum to produce Fossil Mysteries, This 10,000-square-foot permanent installation takes visitors on a walk through time, experiencing San Diego at various moments in geologic time. Highly interactive and fully bilingual (English and Spanish), this exhibit explores several big themes in science: evolution, extinction, ecology, and Earth processes. Numerous fossils, realistic models, engaging interactives, murals, and life-sized dioramas offer unique multi-sensory experiences for visitors of all ages.



Fossil Mysteries
The Fossil Mysteries exhibition traces the natural history of southern California and Baja California through the last 75 million years.


Fossil Mysteries
These specimens are part display, part interactive. Here, visitors can move or flex the part of the skeleton that demonstrates how that animal’s body adapted to changing environments.


Fossil Mysteries
Here, visitors explore how climbers, like this gibbon from the Oligocene epoch, rely on a wide range of motion in their wrists to climb quickly and deftly.


Fossil Mysteries
This large diorama immerses the visitor in San Diego County—45 million years ago. Enter a lush subtropical woodland bursting with unusual plants and animals.


Fossil Mysteries
Carefully displayed specimens, touchable fossils, and a mural help visitors explore fossil marine invertebrates from California and the Baja California peninsula.


Fossil Mysteries
Hanging over the atrium, visitors encounter the 40-foot Carcharodon megalodon—the largest predatory shark of all time.


Fossil Mysteries
In this area on the Miocene epoch, a series of interactives allows visitors to explore the dynamics of plate tectonics and their role in shaping southern California and Baja California.


Fossil Mysteries
In the glass case is the giant baleen whale specimen, as well as complimentary fossils. In front is an exhibit of microfossil plankton.


Fossil Mysteries
At the south entrance to the exhibit, a mastodon rears up to protect its baby from a lion poised to pounce. Models, mounted specimens, cased fossils, and interactives merge to create a rich, multimedia experience.
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