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> Mazon Creek Fossil Exhibit

Mazon Creek Fossil Exhibit

The plants and animals found in concretions recovered from the Francis Creek Shale are some of the most exciting and important fossils that have been found in the state of Illinois. These fossils are known as the Mazon Creek fossils because they were originally found along Mazon Creek in northeastern Illinois.

The quality and diversity of fossils recovered in Mazon Creek nodules makes these localities important worldwide. In most fossil deposits only the hard parts of organisms (shells, bones, teeth, etc.) are preserved. This means that in most fossil deposits only animals that have hard parts are preserved.

Because of the unique conditions of fossilization, Mazon Creek fossils frequently have both hard and softer parts preserved. In addition, many soft-bodied organisms that do not usually fossilize are preserved.

These factors mean that the fossils from Mazon Creek provide scientists with an extraordinary view of biodiversity 300 million years ago.

The Mazon Creek deposit is an example of a Lagerstätten.

This exhibit shows some of the more interesting and dramatic types of fossils recovered from these remarkable deposits. The exhibit also contains a link to the searchable Mazon Creek Fossil Database and a link to activities suitable for interested individuals as well as teachers and their students.

Copyright 2003, Illinois State Museum Society