Search the LACMIP Locality Register

This page enables the user to search the LACMIP locality register through several different data fields. The acronym LACMIP stands for Los Angeles County Museum, Invertebrate Paleontology. This acronym is still used even though the institution is now known as the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The LACMIP locality register search fields encompass a set of parameters that are most useful to paleontologists and geologists. The search fields are: LACMIP locality number (for either a single number or a range); Geography, with fields for city, county, state, and country; Geologic age, with pick lists for both the upper and lower limits of an age range; Unit, for stratigraphic nomenclature, with fields for member, formation and group; Collector and Field Number, the fields for the fossil collector's name and field number for the locality; Map Name, for titles of topographic, geologic or other map names that were used to determine or record the position of the locality; Accession Number (primarily for Staff use), which the Museum's Registrar assigns to each newly acquired collection of fossils; Alternate Locality Number, for locality numbers assigned to a particular site by other institutions or organizations; and Description, which may include information on the fossil locality, stratigraphy, access to the area, distribution of fossils, and any other information provided by the collector. Note that search terms are not case sensitive and partial matching is used. For example, a search for "luis" in the County field will show all localities in San Luis Obispo County.

A search of the LACMIP locality register may be made by entering a term into any of the search fields. The results of a search may be refined by entering additional search terms into any of the other fields. As more search terms are added, the search results will be further constrained to those locality records which contain all of the searched terms. However, it is recommended that the initial search be conducted by using the simplest and most specific set of search terms in order to get the desired results.

What is a LACMIP locality?

In the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology, each LACMIP locality represents a collection event, that is, a record for the fossils that were collected from a certain geographic place and geologic horizon during a site visit by the collector. This concept of a locality prevents different collections of fossils mistakenly assumed to be from the same place and horizon from being combined under the same previously existing locality number. Relocating you own fossil locality can be difficult and finding someone else's fossil locality can be challenging to say the least. Relocating the same fossil locality can be even more of a problem when many years separate the dates of collections because the places themselves can change through time: outcrops may erode, become overgrown or buried, and the change may be so great that the locality may not be recognized by the original collector. Modern GPS systems can help geologists to relocate the same positions in the field, but whether or not the same stratigraphic horizon or rock unit is still exposed at that site is an open question. This becomes even more of a problem in outcrops on steep slopes. To summarize, in order to prevent incorrectly combining fossils from different places or horizons, each LACMIP locality is considered to be and cataloged as a single collection event.

The Search Fields

LACMIP Locality

This field enables the user to search for a single locality or a range of localities. Enter either one LACMIP locality number or a range of numbers (00000-00000) into this field. Do not use a comma in the number(s). An entry in this field is not required to conduct a search that uses other fields on the LACMIP Locality search page.

The LACMIP locality number is used to designate a collection event that occurred at a specific place and time. In this sense, subsequent collections of fossils purportedly from the same place or horizon are assigned a different LACMIP locality number, even if the later collection was made by the same person(s). This concept prevents the merging of different fossil collections and helps to eliminate geographic and stratigraphic errors in the database.

A separate box adjacent to the LACMIP locality number field allows the user to limit the search results to include only localities with images by clicking the box. Locality images may include topographic maps, field notes, field photographs, and any other information provided by the collector(s).


The Geography search fields enable the user to limit the search results to the fossil localities within a specific area of interest using a political reference frame.


If the fossil locality is within the boundary of a city, then enter the name of the city. Otherwise, the field should be empty.


The County field is for the name of the county or other equivalent political unit in situations where they are not called counties. For example, in the state of Louisiana the equivalent unit is known as a parish. Partial matching is used in this field.


The State field is for the name of the state or other equivalent political unit in situations where they are not called states. For example, the provinces and territories of Canada are included in this search field. Partial matching is used in this field.


Names of countries are based on currently recognized political boundaries, but older names still exist in the database. For searches, spell out the name of the country, except for the United States of America which is searched as USA. Special situations occur where: 1) the jurisdiction of an area is in dispute; 2) the area is governed by more than one country; 3) simply entering the name of the country that governs the area would be misleading or not helpful to a paleontologist. In these cases, enter the name of the country that is most commonly recognized and used for that particular area. Partial matching is used in this field.


The age limits of the locality search are selected from two pick lists, one for the upper limit and one for the lower limit. The age or age range of any particular locality search is entered by selecting the latest (youngest) possible age and the earliest (oldest) possible age from the two pick lists, Upper (limit) and Lower (limit), respectively. Note that the pick lists contain the only ages that are acceptable as entries in these fields. The ages on the pick lists are from the Geological Society of America 1999 Geologic Time Scale and they are listed in stratigraphic order, oldest at the bottom and youngest at the top. For situations where there is only a single age, not a range, then enter the same age on both the Upper (limit) and Lower (limit) pick lists. If no age limits are selected, then the entire LACMIP locality register will be searched without regard for geologic age of the locality.

Unit (stratigraphic)

The Unit fields enable the user to search for localities that originate from a particular stratigraphic Member, Formation or Group. Note that partial matching is used. For example, if "Canyon" is searched in the Formation field, then the results will contain lots from all formations that have a name containing the word "Canyon".


The Collector field enables the user to search for localities that were collected by a particular person. The search field is actually for the last name of the collector. Localities with multiple collectors with the same last name will appear once for each time the same collector's last name appears on the same locality.

Field Number

The Field number field enables the user to search for localities by using the collector's number for the locality. This search field can be used when the only information known might be the field number written on a specimen. The field number search may consist of any combination of numbers, letters and punctuation, as provided by the collector. For example: RMW-JDS-342a.

Map Name

The Map field enables the user to limit the locality search results to those within the area of a specific map. In the database, maps are treated as publications. Most of the maps used in the database are USGS 1:24000 scale (7.5 minute series) topographic maps, but many other kinds of maps have been used by fossil collectors, including maps at various other scales, land use maps, city planning maps, geologic maps, and road maps. Partial matching is used in this field.

Accession Number

The Museum Registrar assigns an Accession number to each newly acquired collection of specimens. One accession (number) may, and often does, cover specimens from more than one LACMIP locality (collection event).

The LACMIP locality register can be searched by entering the NHMLAC Registrar's number that was assigned to a collection at the time it was accessioned by the Museum. The results of this kind of search would show all of the localities that have specimens that were acquired through any particular accession. This field is primarily for Staff use. However, Accession Numbers for certain collections may be provided to the public. Contact the Collections Manager for specific Accession Numbers.

Alternate Locality Number

The Alternate Number field enables the user to search for numbers that were used by another institution. Searches for Institutional Codes (acronym) and numbers can be made from this field. For example, the results of a search for UCLA in this field would show all LACMIP localities that originally were part of the University of California Los Angeles invertebrate paleontology collection. Other institutions and their acronyms include: California Institute of Technology (CIT), California State University Northridge (CSUN), and University of Southern California (USC).


This field enables the user to search for localities by searching the contents of the LACMIP locality descriptions. This field may contain additional information on the fossil locality, stratigraphy, access to the area, distribution of fossils, and any other information provided by the collector.

Search button

The Search button initiates a search for the entries currently shown in all of the fields.

Clear button

The Clear button clears the search entries from the screen.

Results of Locality Searches

Results of locality searches are presented in numeric order. Buttons at the bottom of the search results page allow the user to start a new search, modify the existing search, download data, and obtain LACMIP format locality cards. The downloaded locality data is in a text file (.txt) with the fields delimited by vertical bars. The file can be saved on your computer, opened in Notepad, and imported into Excel. The LACMIP format locality cards are downloaded as a pdf file that can be opened in Acrobat Reader. In the LACMIP format, one set of locality data is shown on each card or page, with any locality images, including maps and photographs, shown on the following page.