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Paleontology, the study of past life, is the primary emphasis of the Natural History Section of the Arizona Museum of Natural History. The Natural History Section explores, excavates, records, prepares, conserves, and researches the fossil resources in the collection at AzMNH. In addition to working with state, university, and municipal agencies, AzMNH is an official repository for specimens collected from State, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forest, and Fish and Wildlife lands throughout Arizona.


Exploration of Cretaceous rocks in southeastern Arizona.


Paleontological research began at the museum (then called Mesa Southwest Museum) in the mid-1990s, and our collections have been growing ever since. Since our inception we have steadily increased collaboration and professional associations with other research institutions around the world. Currently AzMNH paleontologists are involved in ongoing projects in Arizona and Sonora. Please click on the right menu to explore the individual project web pages to learn more about AzMNH paleontological projects.


(Left) Excavation of mammoth tusk and associated fossils in Gilbert, AZ.
(Right) Skull of Zuniceratops.



AzMNH is both a public museum and a research institution. AzMNH scientists actively study specimens and present our research in press and at international, national and regional scientific meetings. AzMNH and the affiliated Southwest Paleontological Society (SPS, see link below) have hosted several paleontology conferences, and produced the resulting research volumes. These are available for a nominal fee. Click the right menu to view museum publications and their contents.

Southwest Paleontological Society

The Southwest Paleontological Society (SPS) is a non-profit society devoted to promoting the science of paleontology. SPS was formed for the purpose of assisting the Arizona Museum of Natural History with collecting, documenting and preserving fossil material. Under the auspices of the Arizona Museum of Natural History, SPS strives to maintain the highest standards of conduct and proficiency in all its activities. It provides educational programs to its members as well as the community.

Annual Dues: $10.00 (Family membership available)

Further information can be found at or click on Southwest Paleontological Society on the right menu.

Happy workers
Volunteers in the AZMNH Paleontology Laboratory.

Tools for removing a fossil from the field.