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.
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.
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.
Last updated: October 17, 2023