Paleontology in Idaho
Public lands in Idaho record a long history of life on Earth. BLM manages paleontological resources for scientific and educational values in conjunction with the Idaho Museum of Natural History. Vertebrate fossils discovered on lands managed by BLM cover a wide age range starting in the early Miocene (30.8 Ma) to the early Holocene (8,000 years ago). Fossils of animals found demonstrate a great diversity of life, most of these animals are not present in Idaho today. Fossils of giant tortoises, rhinos, camels, horses, giant ground sloths, sabertooth cats, mammoths, mastodons, fish and early forms of rabbits, rodents, squirrels, lizards, snakes and birds have been found. These fossil, along with the sediments, have allowed researchers from all the world to understand what life was like in Idaho’s past.
This cranium from a partial skeleton of scimitar sabertooth (Homotherium crenatidens) was discovered in Owyhee County by Jonena Hearst in 1991. It is approximately 2.8 million years old.
This giant camel (Megatylopus gigas) cranium from a partial skeleton was discovered in Elmore Country by the Idaho Museum of Natural History field party in 1964. It is approximately 6 million years old (Hemphillian Land Mammal Age).
This Teleoceras fossiger - rhino mandible was discovered in Owyhee County by the Idaho Museum of Natural History field party in 1983. It is estimated to be 5 to 23 million years old (Miocene).