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Ever-changing Environments

Fossil Lake in the Past Worlds exhibit

From savannah plains to swamps to a lake-covered landscape, the area that would become Utah has featured many different environments throughout Earth’s history. These dramatic ecosystem changes happened slowly over thousands to millions of years, and with each change came a new chance for different animals to wander the lands. Explore the Past Worlds gallery to learn more about these changes and what they can tell us about how plants and animals survive in our continually changing world.

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Virtual Field Trip of Past Worlds

Walking through the Past Worlds exhibition, students will journey through millions of years of Utah’s ancient environments and their changing life forms. Stories of long-lost ecosystems and animal diversity, as well as those highlighting the work of Museum paleontologists, can be found along the way.

Explore Past Worlds


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Fossil Exploration

Determine what Utah looked like long ago through observations and inferences.

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Extinction Event Newscaster

Explore and engage student curiosity in creating and reporting on an extinction event.

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Design A Dino

Design a dinosaur and use household objects to create an impression fossil.

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Q&A with Paleontologist Dr. Mark Loewen

Mark Loewen is a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Utah. He specializes in research on Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs with an emphasis on the taxonomy, evolution, and biogeography of meat-eating, armored, and horned dinosaurs. Along with colleagues he has named 13 dinosaurs including Utahceratops.

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What does it mean to be a paleontologist? What happens when paleontologists find a dinosaur fossil? And how do we know what dinosaurs looked like? Find the answer to these questions and more with Dr. Mark Loewen.

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What structures help a dinosaur survive? How are dinosaurs named? Why do scientists compare dinosaurs to birds? Hear Mark answer these questions and more in an interview for 3rd-6th grade students.

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How is a dinosaur skull like a suspension bridge? Why do dinosaurs have so many holes in their skulls? Who are the closest relatives to dinosaurs? What does a dinosaur embryo look like? These questions and more are answered by Mark in his 6th-12th grade interview.

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