National Fossil Day 2018: Art Contest Theme Announced “The Age of Reptiles—More than Just Dinosaurs”

National Fossil Day is still a few months away (October 17, 2018), but as I have mentioned before, now is the time for you and/or your museum or institution to start making plans to participate in celebrating fossil resources and heritage!

For the paleoartists out there (of any age and any skill, U.S. Citizens), you can get involved, too! The National Park Service is sponsoring an art contest as part of the National Fossil Day festivities, with the theme this year being “The Age of Reptiles–More Than Just Dinosaurs.” This gives you the opportunity to showcase the amazing diversity of reptilian organisms of the Mesozoic — any reptile that is NOT a dinosaur (including birds). As is often the case, amazing reptilian biota can often get overlooked in favor of more recognizable dinosaurs, or is more likely to be mistaken for being a dinosaur! As the mascot on this year’s NFD logo is the non-dinosaurian reptile Quetzalcoatlus, this is a fitting theme.

Full details regarding the NFD Art Contest can be found here, where you can download an entry form and obtain information about where to send your artwork, who can enter, deadlines for entry, and all other pertinent information.

I went through the past few years contest winners for the NFD art contest, and I was impressed! And I encourage any artist and aspiring artist to give it a go! Categories are based on age: 5–8 years old, 9–13 years old, 14–18 years old, and 18 and over. Artwork contest winners will be selected by a panel of judges, and winners will be highlighted on the National Park Service National Fossil Day website.

I’ve chosen my personal favorites from the past 5 years to highlight below. Enjoy these and use them as inspiration to draw your own reptile! Deadline is October 5!

From the 2017 contest, 5–8 years old category. Where can I get a shirt that says “Fossil are Fun”? Third Place (tie), Patric T. C. (Age 8), Santa Monica, CA. Public Domain.


From the 2014 contest, 9–13 years old category. Second Place, Jacqueline H. (age, 12), Orlando, FL Public Domain.


From the 2017 contest, 19 and up category. Second Place, Lisa Dublin, Henderson, NV. Public Domain.


From the 2016 Contest, 14–18 years old category. Second Place, Carley H. (Age 16), Waco, TX. Public Domain.
From the 2015 Contest, 5–8 years old category. First Place. Kevin W. (Age 8), Windermere, FL. Public Domain.


So, get those creative juices flowing, and get those art supplies to work!

National Fossil Day 2018 Art Contest

Featured Image: From the 2016 National Fossil Day Art Contest Category, 5–8 years old catergory, Honorable Mention, David H. (Age 8), Los Angeles, CA. Public Domain.

Published by Sarah Z. Gibson

Dr. Sarah Z. Gibson is a paleontologist and science communicator based in Minnesota. Her research focuses on the evolutionary history of ray-finned fishes from the Early Mesozoic.

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