The Story of Paleozoic Pals™

Paleozoic Pals™ are the Paleontological Research Institution’s line of plush fossils. The Paleozoic is the era before dinosaurs, during which animal life first diversified in the seas, and eventually came ashore to become land vertebrates. Upstate New York, where PRI is located, hosts thick sequences of well-preserved Paleozoic rocks. Many of these rocks contain a rich fossil record of marine invertebrates, from which our first Paleozoic Pals were selected.

Though PRI is known locally to some children as the “dinosaur museum,” in fact our research collections and local fossil record are primarily rich in fossil invertebrates. The public in Central and Western NY State are often familiar with local fossils, especially trilobites. In 2009 we decided that, instead of carrying just the standard dinosaur paraphernalia, we ought to create a product that has been missing from natural history gift shops: trilobite plushies!

We made small gray plush trilobites that look a bit like the trilobite Calymene, and sold them in our Gift Shop, but decided to see if our academic colleagues would be interested in buying a few at a conference booth we host every year at the Geological Society of America. To see our booth in the hours immediately after opening you might think we were giving away gold nuggets. We sold all 200 immediately and left a lot of colleagues disappointed until we could add another shipment at the conference the following year.

Later, we developed a plush sea scorpion — a eurypterid, New York's state fossil. In 2015, to raise the capital to make a new plush Greenops trilobite, we started a Kickstarter campaign — and raised over 5 times our goal! The wild success of the campaign and excitement from the global community led us to the 2016 campaign for an ammonoid — and future, forthcoming campaigns, as well as throngs of excited attendees at the conferences we attend.

PRI is proud to produce Paleozoic Pals™, the world's premier line of Paleozoic fossil plushies!