Ongoing Exhibitions :: Ancient Life of New York - A Billion Years of Earth History

Ancient LifeCome see numerous ancient life forms from the Museum's exhaustive fossil collection, many are unfamiliar to the casual visitor. The youngest specimens date back 100 million years, when dinosaurs were in their heyday, the oldest are over a billion years old. New York State has the oldest animal fossils in the eastern United States. In this exhibition, visitors will see billion-year-old blue-green bacteria, fossilized tree stumps and spiders from Gilboa, trilobites, and armored fish - just to name a few.

Many of the life forms culled from the State Museum's exhaustive fossil collection will be unfamiliar to most anyone who views them at this exhibition, curated by the Museum's paleontologists. That is because the youngest of the specimens dates back 100 million years, when dinosaurs were in their heyday.

The most ancient of the fossils, from blue-green bacteria found in shallow seas located in what are now the Adirondacks, are more than one billion-years-old. New York State, in fact, has the oldest animal fossils in the eastern United States. With this exhibition, viewers of all ages can get a glimpse of not only how old old can be, but also of the massive changes in animal and plant life that take place over geologic time.

Included are fossilized tree stumps and spiders from Gilboa, Schoharie County, home to 380 million-year-old forests, the world's oldest. Also displayed are trilobites, best described as ancient relatives of the horseshoe crab, retrieved from muddy seas of Utica, Oneida County 450 million years ago, and the armored fish that roamed the state's waters through the Devonian Period, 420 to 360 million years ago.

In addition to shedding light on life that existed long before most people can imagine it, Ancient Life in New York shows the important role Albany has played for the last 165 years as a center of North American fossil research.

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