For further information about the Invertebrate Paleontology Department, contact
The Invertebrate Paleontology Department (LACMIP) promotes the study of fossil invertebrates (animals without backbones). We maintain collections of fossils from all major invertebrate groups including Porifera (sponges); Cnidaria (corals, jellyfish); Arthropoda (trilobites, insects, crustaceans); Mollusca (clams, snails, chitons); Bryozoa (moss animals); Brachiopoda (lantern shells); and Echinodermata (starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea lilies). We also have collections of trace fossils, including the tracks, trails and burrows of ancient organisms. Invertebrate fossils are the primary evidence for discovering the rich history of life on Earth and provide important clues to understanding the world's geology. The vast majority of animal species that ever lived are now extinct, and these forms can only be studied as fossils. Study of the diversity and distribution of ancient animals provides a unique window into the past and allows us to determine how life has responded to climate change throughout time.
The Invertebrate Paleontology collections hold approximately 3.5 million specimens from over 27,000 world-wide localities. The collections currently rank seventh or eighth in size in the world and second in the Pacific Rim. To search the collections database, click here.
Mary joined the Department in 2003. She earned a Master's Degree in Geology from California State University at Northridge, studying Late Cretaceous gastropods from the Simi Hills in Southern California.
This specimen of the Late Cretaceous ammonite Pachydiscus catarinae Anderson and Hanna, 1935, is from Point Loma in San Diego County. It was collected in 1975 by Museum staff from a rocky beach at the foot of steep shoreline cliffs. The ammonite was contained in a concretion weighing over 500 pounds and required a helicopter to lift it off the beach. For more information on the "Flying Ammonite", click here.