The Dr. John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center is the repository for fossils and artifacts found within Orange County. Archaeology and paleontology are two very different disciplines, but share the same goal - to investigate the history of life. Archaeologists are concerned with evidence of past human cultures, while paleontologists are interested in the history of life on earth (exclusive of Homo sapiens). Together, the Cooper Center's archaeological and paleontological collections provide a fantastic chronicle of the history of life in today's Orange County. Environmental mitigation from construction in the county results in the recovery of artifacts and fossils that pertain to each of these disciplines, and is the source of the bulk of the material in the Cooper Center Collections.
Current estimates of the Orange County Collections are at around six million specimens. Less than 1% (over 25,000 objects) of the collections have been curated and cataloged into our database systems. The rest still await attention from the curators and remain in their original field packaging. There are many discoveries to be made. Collections are available to researchers by appointment.