Mammoth Cave

National Fossil Day

A small white ruler is held next to a dark brown jagged fossil sicking out of a lighter brown rock.
The brain case of a shark is preserved in the walls of Mammoth Cave. Mammoth Cave National Park preserves fossils from two different time periods in Earth's past: Paleozoic bedrock fossils and Cenozoic cave fossils.

NPS Photo

Join paleontologists, educators, and park guides to celebrate National Fossil Day at Mammoth Cave National Park on Monday, Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take part in hands on activities, scientific presentations, and a fossil themed cave tour that highlight the extensive fossil history of Mammoth Cave, the newly discovered shark species Strigilodus tollesonae, and all things fossils.

All National Fossil Day activities are free and do not require advance reservations. Meet at the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center to start your fossil journey!

Two people wearing helmets, headlamps, and kneepads stand in a dark rocky cave and write in notepads.
J.P. Hodgett, paleontologist with the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, and Rickard Toomey, Mammoth Cave National Park Cave Resource Specialist, make notes on various shark fossils found during a research trip inside Mammoth Cave.

NPS Photo

Scheduled Activities

10 a.m. - Get to Know Your Shark Fossils

John-Paul (JP) Hodnett, paleontologist of the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, will present his research on the extremely diverse Mississippian marine fossils found at Mammoth Cave including the newly discovered Strigilodus tollesonae shark. 45 minutes.

11 a.m. - Mammoth Mammal Fossils

Did you know there are more than just aquatic fossils found inside Mammoth Cave? Rickard Toomey, Mammoth Cave National Park Cave Resource Specialist, will discuss fossils of bats, sabretooth cats, and other mammals that have been discovered in the dark passages beneath your feet. 45 minutes.

12 p.m. - Mammoth Cave Shark Mural Painting Donation

NPS Paleontology Program will present a specially created painting for Mammoth Cave National Park by Paleoartist Julius Csotonyi to park officials. The painting depicts some of the Mississippian shark and invertebrate fauna from Mammoth Cave that have been discovered through a Paleontological Resource Inventory (PRI). 15 minutes

1:15 p.m. - Mammoth Passage: Fossil Tour

Join ranger Kelli Tolleson as she guides you on a special Mammoth Passage Cave Tour to discover where ancient fossils are hidden amongst the rocks. Tickets for this tour are first come first served and may be purchased in the visitor center on Oct. 23. Tickets cost $11 for adults, $9 for youth, and $5.50 for Senior Pass or Access Pass holders. The ¾ mile Mammoth Passage Fossil Tour is limited to 70 people and requires participants to walk down and up a steep ¼ mile path to the Historic Entrance and 160 steps to enter the cave. Total tour time is 1 ¼ hours.

Junior Paleontologist, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Resources Division. Activity Book Ages 5-12. Image of hands drawing a picture of a palm tree in a notebook with dinosaur bones, rock fossils and magnifying glass.

All Day Activities

Get Hands on With Fossils!

Explore displays of real fossil specimens including corals, crinoids, brachiopods, gastropods, sharks, mammals, dinosaurs and more. Scientists from the National Park Service (NPS) Paleontology Program, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky Geological Survey, and Dinosaur Park in Laurel Maryland will be on hand to show off their fossils and tell you all about them

Become a Junior Paleontologist

Earn your official Junior Ranger Paleontologist badge as you complete fun and educational activities about Earth’s history, ancient life and what it is that paleontologists do. Booklets are available in English and in Spanish at the visitor center or on the Junior Paleontologist website.


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A fossil in a rock wall inside the cave.

Life before the cave.

A painting of ocean life including sharks, fish and coral.
Sharks, Fossils, and Caves

New paleontological research in Mammoth Cave.

Last updated: October 17, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259-0007


270 758-2180

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