Geology & Paleontology

layered badlands buttes reach into a cloudy sky above
Badlands buttes contain millions of years of history -- much of which can be unpacked with the sciences of geology and paleontology.

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Geology & Paleontology Portal

  • banded badlands buttes stretch far into the horizon with green prairie in valleys.
    Geologic Formations

    Curious about the geologic formations of Badlands National Park? Check out this article to learn more.

  • a green vertical line runs through a brown badlands peak
    Clastic Dikes

    What holds up Badlands peaks? Clastic dikes! These geologic structures have puzzled scientists and visitors alike. Learn more here!

  • an elevated patch of prairie, roughly cubic, stands above grasses and canyons.
    Sod Tables

    Why do some parts of the prairie stand above the rest? Read this article to learn more about what sod tables are and how they got there.

  • Revisiting The 1940 Badlands Expedition
    Revisiting The 1940 Badlands Expedition

    Revisiting The 1940 Badlands Expedition

  • badlands buttes form vertical cliffs and are capped by a grove of junipers beneath a blue sky
    White River Badlands Paleontology

    People have been finding Badlands fossils for hundreds of years. Learn more about the history of paleontology in this area here.

  • paleontologists stand, lean over, and crawl in a large pit where they excavate fossils
    The Big Pig Dig

    The Big Pig Dig took 15 field seasons and recovered over 19,000 fossils. Read more about this excavation and its story here.

  • a large marine reptile swims through blue water and closes its jaws around a squidlike creature

    Mosasaurs were marine reptiles that used to live in the Badlands area when it was covered by a shallow sea. Learn more about them here.

  • two halves of an enormous skull sit in a display box, both teeth side up.

    Brontotheres are the largest fossil mammals found in the Badlands. Learn more about these ancient "thunder beasts" in this article.

  • a fossil skull and rib bones sit in a styrofoam package with a diagram of the full skeleton

    Oreodonts are one of the most common Badlands fossils. Millions of years ago, herds of oreodonts would have grazed in the Badlands area.

  • a human hand holds a skull with long, sharp saber teeth in front of badlands buttes

    Nimravid, a cat-like creature, is one of the few carnivore fossils found in the Badlands. Learn more about this ancient mammal here.

Last updated: April 16, 2021

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