Be a Fossil Detective

Fossils evoke what has changed so much in the world but also what has remained the same. An ancient sea creature found in a desert testifies to long-lost oceans, a world topsy-turvy from what we see now. But a shell fossil from hundreds of thousands of years ago may look the same as a snail found down the beach today.

Take a look at the photos below from the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum, and guess, which is which?

Which is petrified wood, where water seeped through buried wood and left behind preserving quartz?

Which might have the delicate imprint of a leaf?

Which is a snail?

Which two look like scallops that must have once clapped their shells to skitter-float through the water, but have ended up silenced in stone?

Which fossil is a statue zoo of mixed invertebrates?

And my favorite, which shows clam homes, that the industrious mollusks bore into rock? These have lasted longer than any of our skyscrapers.

Scroll down for answers....

Scroll down a bit more...

Any guesses on how old these are? Between hundreds of thousands of years and 6 million years for the stone with many invertebrates!

Thanks for visiting the past and trying out being a fossil detective!

Home Wildlife Viewing Tidepools Ocean Animal Database