Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University home


Paleobotany is the scientific study of ancient plants. Paleobotanists learn what plants were like long ago from fossils found in sedimentary rocks. These fossils can be impressions or compressions of the plants left on the rock’s surface, or “petrified” objects, such as wood, which preserve the original plant material in rocklike form. Still other specimens are found in calcified lumps called coal balls, so named because they are usually found in or near coal deposits.   The Paleobotany collection contains over 1400 specimens mainly from Idaho.