BIO 113 — Dinosaurs
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Lab 2
Lagerstätte

See also Rocks Page
See also Fossils Page

Lagerstätte are fossil-bearing sites with extraordinary diversity and completeness or quality of preservation. They provide a detailed look into specific prehistoric environments. In lab we have a number of fossils representing various important Lagerstätte from around the world. They are presented below from oldest to youngest. Ma = Mega-annum or million years (ago).


House Range

Location: Western Utah
Age: Middle Cambrian Period, about 505 Ma
Description: A marine site that has a similar fauna to the famous Burgess Shale (though with less detailed preservation). Famous for its abundance of trilobites
Trilobite algae eocrinoid
The trilobite Elrathia kingi is the most abundant and famous of the fossils in this area. Some soft-bodied organisms, such as these disk-shaped cyanobacteria colonies (Morania fragmenta) and filamentous algae (Yuknessia simplex), are preserved as carbon films. The eocrinoid Gogia spiralis is a distant ancestor of sea lilies and sea stars (at Museum of Ancient Life, UT)

Mazon Creek

Location: Illinois
Age: Carboniferous Period, about 300 Ma
Description: This area was a heavily vegetated tropical swamp. Fossils occur primarily in ironstone concretions that are split to reveal delicate impressions.
fern horsetail shrimp
A fern, Pecopteris sp. Annularia sp., a relative of modern horsetails A shrimp, possibly Acanthotelson sp.

Holzmaden/Posidonia Shale

Location: Germany
Age: Early Jurassic Period, about 180 Ma
Description: Oil shales from a marine environment with detailed preservation of ammonites, crinoids, and marine reptiles.
Dactylioceras fossil Giant Roaming Crinoids Campylognathoides fossil
Dactylioceras ammonite shell Giant floating crinoids (sea lilies, a distant relative of seastars) (at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center) Campylognathoides liasicus pterosaur (flying reptile) (at the Arizona Museum of Natural History)

Morrison Formation

Location: Western United States
Age: Late Jurassic Period, about 150 Ma
Description: A "concentration" lagerstätte, meaning it is important for its large numbers of fossils rather than the quality of preservation. Contains large numbers of mineralized dinosaur bones from a large diversity of species.
radius bone bone slab dinosaur bones
Radius (forearm) bone probably from Camptosaurus Cut and polished dinosaur bone, showing internal structure Dinosaur bones, mostly from Apatosaurus, still in rock at Dinosaur National Monument

Solnhofen Limestone

Location: Germany
Age: Late Jurassic Period, about 145 Ma
Description: This site was a shallow salt-water lagoon that also trapped some animals from surrounding uplands. Most famous for the detailed preservation of pterosaurs and Archaeopteryx fossils.
shrimp Brittlestar Archaeopteryx
An unidentified shrimp A brittlestar, Ophiopetra sp. Archaeopteryx, the oldest known bird (actual fossil photographed at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center)

Yixian Formation/Jehol Biota

Location: Liaoning Province, China
Age: Early Cretaceous Period, about 125 Ma
Description: Excellent preservation, including impressions of soft parts. Most famous for its preservation of early birds and small feathered dinosaurs.
Hyphalosaurus Mayfly larva Microraptor
A juvenile Hyphalosaurus lingyuanensis, a semiaquatic reptile A larval mayfly, Ephemeropsis sp. Microraptor zhaoianus, a small, feathered dinosaur (at Wyoming Dinosaur Center)

Santana & Crato Formations

Location: Brazil
Age: Late Cretaceous Period, about 110-98 Ma
Description: A shallow inland sea that preserved fishes as well as plants, insects, and other animals from the surrounding lands. Some fossils are encased in limestone nodules that preserve even soft anatomy and 3-D shape. The Santana Formation is slightly younger than the Crato Formation; both are exposed in the same region.
Rhacolepis fish fossil Cockroach fossil Santanadactylus
A fish, Rhacolepis sp., preserved in 3D relief in a limestone nodule A cockroach from the slightly older Crato Formation Santanadactylus, a pterosaur (at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center)

Sahel Alma, Hajoula and Haqel, Lebanon

Location: Lebanon
Age: Late Cretaceous Period, about 95 Ma
Description: These three sites are all near each other and about the same age and mostly contain the same species. Abundant marine animals, especially fishes.
Armigatus fish Carpopenaeus shrimp squid fossil
A fish, Armigatus sp. A shrimp, Carpopenaeus sp. Squid, such as this Acaethoteuthis sp.. are soft-bodied and rarely fossilized (at Museum of Ancient Life)

Hell Creek Formation

Location: Primarily western Montana & eastern North Dakota
Age: Late Cretaceous Period, about 66 Ma
Description: Large concentrations of dinosaur bones and other vertebrate fossils, with some limited soft-part preservation (skin impressions, cartilage), also numerous microfossils. Covers the period up to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Thescelosaurus vertebra campsosaur scute Edmontosaurus skeleton
A vertebra from the dinosaur Thescelosaurus A scute (bone plate in skin) of a Champsosaur, a crocodile-like reptile An articulated fossil of the dinosaur Edmontosaurus.

Green River Formation

Location: Southwest Wyoming and adjacent states
Age: Eocene Epoch, about 50 Ma
Description: Formed from the sediments of several large lakes in a subtropical climate. Most famous for its abundance of fish fossils, but a wide variety of plants, insects, and other vertebrates are also preserved.
Knightia fish fossil march fly bird
A fresh-water fish, Knightia eocena A march fly, Plecia pealei fossil A primitive bird, Pseudocrypturus cercanaxius (at Fossil Butte Nat. Monument)

Baltic Amber

Location: NE Europe and Russia around Baltic Sea
Age: Eocene Epoch, about 44 Ma (though dating is controversial)
Description: Plentiful amber, a fossilized tree resin (chemical fossil), that frequently preserves trapped small animals (insects, spiders) and plant material in perfect detail.
amber w/ beetle amber with flies amber w/ spider
Amber with preserved beetle Amber with 3 unidentified flies and an aphid Amber with preserved spider

White River Formation

Location: Nebraska, South Dakota and nearby areas
Age: Eocene Epoch, 37-30 Ma
Description: A concentration lagerstätte with large numbers of mammal fossils, including many articulated skeletons.
Oreodont Skull Mesohippus Tooth Holophoneus & Hyracodon skeletons
The skull of an oreodont (sheep-sized grazing mammal), Miniochoerus gracilis Part of jaw and tooth of the ancient horse, Mesohippus sp. Skeletons of Holophoneus (prehistoric cat) and Hyracodon (prehistoric rhino) (at LA Museum of Nat. Hist.)

Florissant Formation

Location: Central Colorado
Age: Eocene Epoch, about 34 Ma
Description: Formed from volcanic ash that settled in a lake formed by a blocked river. Volcanic mud flows also burried tree stumps. Preserves mostly plants and insects (along with a few vertebrates) in great detail.
leaf fossil Chironomus midge tree stump
A leaf from an extinct beech tree, Fagopsis longifolia A non-biting midge, Chironomus sp. Petrified redwood tree stump, Sequoioxcylon pearsalli (at Florissant Fossil Beds Nat. Monument)

Rancho La Brea Tar Pits

Location: Los Angeles, California
Age: Pleistocene Epoch, between 50,000 and 11,000 years ago
Description: Naturally occurring pits of oil and tar trapped a diverse array of animals coming in to drink (and still do so today). The well-preserved but dark-stained bones provide a detailed look at life in California. Many of the same animals would have lived in Arizona.
Bird humerus fossil Water Beetle Dire Wolf skeleton
The humerus from an unidentified bird of prey. A water beetle, Hydrophilus sp. The Dire Wolf, Canis dirus is one of the most common fossils at the Tar Pits (at Page Museum, LA, CA)
This page last updated 15 July 2017 by Udo M. Savalli ()
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