Peale’s mastodon returns to the U.S. as part of this year's upcoming exhibition “Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Story of Charles Willson Peale’s Massive Mastodon

When a European intellectual snubbed the U.S., the well-known artist excavated the giant fossil as evidence of the new Republic’s strength and power

To 17th-century scholars, it made perfect sense that fossils on mountain sides and deep in the ground had been left there in the wake of the biblical flood (above The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge by Thomas Cole, 1829).

Why This 18th-Century Naturalist Believed He’d Discovered an Eyewitness to the Biblical Flood

Smithsonian paleontologist Hans Sues recounts a colossal tale of mistaken identity

At Agate Fossil Beds National Monument near the town of Harrison, Nebraska, visitors can view in the outcropping a curious spiral-shaped fossil called Daimonelix, also known as Devil's Corkscrew.

How Scientists Resolved the Mystery of the Devil's Corkscrews

Smithsonian paleontologist Hans-Dieter Sues tells the tale of a fossil find that bedeviled early 20th-century researchers

At right is a left front foot followed by the hind foot of the mysterious Chirotherium, or "hand beast." The tracks were first found in the German town of Hildburghausen.

The Long, Strange Tale of the Hand Beast Footprints

A Triassic creature left curious tracks in the sandstone; it took decades to unravel the mystery

Using heavy picks, Smithsonian researchers in 1923 worked on excavations in Dinosaur National Monument on the border of Colorado and Utah.

How to Discover Dinosaurs

Smithsonian paleontologist Hans Sues reveals some of his tips for finding and excavating a Mesozoic monster

In a fit of pique, according to one of Aesop's fables, the god Hermes made the animal carry its house forever on its back.

How the Turtle Got Its Shell, With Apologies to Aesop

Smithsonian paleontologist Hans Sues unpacks the complicated evolution of how this creature grew a home upon its back

"I’ve never lost the wonder," says Hans-Dieter Sues (above). "To be the first human to find and touch an extinct creature is a singular moment that cannot be easily put into words."

How Do Paleontologists Find Fossils?

Smithsonian’s Hans-Dieter Sues, who has collected fossil vertebrates in the U.S. and around the world shares some of his tips

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