Direct detection experiments have delivered impressive limits on the interaction strength of dark matter with nuclei. A large experimental program is underway to extend the sensitivity of direct detection experiments. However, such experiments are becoming increasingly difficult and costly. Recently, we proposed paleo-detectors as an alternative approach to the direct detection of dark matter: Instead of searching for dark matter induced nuclear recoils in a real-time laboratory experiment, we propose to search for the traces of dark matter interactions recorded in ancient minerals over geological time-scales. In this talk I will discuss this proposal, including ways to mitigate backgrounds and methods to read out tracks from ancient minerals. I will also discuss some possible applications of paleo-detectors beyond dark matter, e.g. for searching for neutrinos from core collapse supernovae.