Art Daily posts an announcement of research at the Maya city of Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, suggesting fossils may be tied to Maya ideas of Creation. This new study notes the use of fossil-bearing stones in ritual and elite funerary contexts at Palenque, and combining historical and epigraphic evidence, suggests that the fossils hearkened back to a watery world at the dawn of Creation.
This would not be the first discovery of fossils in Mesoamerican ritual contexts. At La Venta (I believe, I don't have the original reports here at my fingertips) at least one fossil shark teeth was part of an Olmec ritual cache.
The idea of pre-19th century people conducting different forms of paleontology is a compelling and common sensical notion, one discussed by Adrienne Mayor in her books, as profiled in the New York Times.
I would need to see more about the Palenque research to comment further, but it raises a potentially fascinating possibility.