Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline Comes to Oregon Coast Aquarium

Newport, Oregon – Travel back in time when you visit the Aquarium’s newest exhibitCruisin’ the Fossil Coastline! Opened June 11thCruisin’ takes guests on a journey through Earth’s geological record, introducing them to species and environments that existed millions of years ago.

Featuring artwork by Alaska artist Ray Troll, the exhibit is based on the book of the same name written by Troll and Dr. Kirk Johnson, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Troll and Johnson logged more than 10,000 miles and 250 days traveling the North American coast in search of fossils and the stories they tell. They visited museums, dove into research collections, collaborated with fellow scientists and artists, and visited active dig sites via automobile, airplane and boat.

The all-ages exhibition features life-size sculptures, models, and images of prehistoric creatures and authentic fossils. The exhibit also features paintings, hand-drawn maps, and light and audio installations by Troll. Footage highlighting Troll’s fossil excursions can be viewed in the Aquarium’s theater.

Troll’s artistic depiction of Oregon’s fossil record.

Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline covers the evolutionary history of the west coast of North America, reaching from Baja, California, to Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska. The exhibition highlights the coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.

A spike-toothed salmon fossil is featured in the Oregon portion of the exhibit.

The Oregon-focused portion of the exhibit features fossils found in both Lincoln County and across the state. Oregon’s geologic record, extending back approximately 400 million years ago to the Devonian period, before which time the state’s landmass was likely submerged under water. The state’s earliest fossil record includes plants, corals, and conodonts. Oregon was covered by seaways and volcanic islands during the Mesozoic era, and fossils from this period include marine plants, invertebrates, ichthyosaurs, pterosaurs, and traces such as invertebrate burrows. During the Cenozoic era, Oregon’s climate gradually cooled and eventually yielded the environments now found in the state. This era’s fossils include marine and terrestrial plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, turtles, birds, mammals, and traces such as eggs and animal tracks.

Compare your shoe size with that of a gastornis, a massive flightless bird that roamed the coastline ages ago. Examine the teeth of a desmostylia, an extinct order of herbivorous aquatic mammals. See eye-to-eye with a life-size model of pachyrhinosaurus, a relative of the triceratops. Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline is an immersive experience, bound to fill all viewers with awe toward the world that once was.

Tickets can be purchased on-site or in advance via aquarium.org.

A life-size model of pachyrhinosaurus “bursts” through the exhibit wall.


About Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Oregon Coast Aquarium creates unique and engaging experiences that connect you to the Oregon Coast and inspire ocean conservation. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. aquarium.org, 541-867-3474. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates.