Several hundred million years ago during the Paleozoic era, the geologic conditions in Arizona were much different than they are today. The state was covered by a warm, shallow sea that was home to different kinds of marine organisms - corals, crinoids, bryozoans, mollusks, fish and plants - to name a few. At that time (~500-300 million years ago), prehistoric animals we consider today like dinosaurs and land-dwellers were not yet around. Life thrived in the ocean, and Arizona was no exception. Today, evidence of Arizona's ocean life and once-abundant marine flora and fauna is preserved in fossils found across the state. Most of those fossils are found in sedimentary host rock, their organic material buried in the seafloor and replaced by minerals over time.
The AMMNRE Museum mineral collection contains several fossil specimens along with our minerals, ores, and mining artifacts. Since fossils tell us information about prehistoric life and environmental conditions, they are an important part of Arizona's history and we plan to showcase them in our future exhibits.
Until then - to learn more about Arizona fossils, check out the following websites:
- National Park Service: Fossils at Grand Canyon National Park
- National Park Service: Geologic Formations at Petrified Forest National Park (newer Mesozoic fossils here like petrified wood and fossil reptiles!)
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: The Geologic Origin of the Sonoran Desert
- Arizona Museum of Natural History: Arizona Through Time
- Southwest Paleontological Society
- Fossilsites.com: Arizona Fossil Sites and Collecting Localities
We've highlighted a few of our specimens below.
To learn more about the AMMNRE Museum mineral collection, click here.