This community of bottom-dwelling organisms was rapidly buried, providing a snapshot of marine life not normally seen in the fossil record. Such fossils allow scientists to ask questions that single fossils can’t answer, such as population densities or differences between adults and juveniles.
Fossil sea urchins are commonly found in Florida. However, usually we only find fragments or isolated spines. This rock contains tests of sea urchins that have been preserved amazingly well. Note that individual fossils represent complete, articulated tests — and spines are still present. The specimens represent the green sea urchin, Lytechinus variegatus. The rock also contains specimens of the bay scallop, Argopecten gibbus. This rock is of late Pleistocene age and comes from Cape Coral, Florida.
The amazing preservation of these fossils was made possible by rapid recrystallization of calcium carbonate skeletons with the urchin spines still attached. This type of preservation allows researchers to examine the anatomy of species in great detail. Such exceptionally preserved fossils are thus of tremendous importance to paleontologists and geologists by providing unique insights into the animals that lived a long time ago.
Curator, Invertebrate Paleontology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Green Sea Urchins (Lytechinus variegatus)
Calico Scallops (Argopecten gibbus)
From Lee Co., Florida
Lived ~120 thousand years ago (late Pleistocene)
Ancient Sea Life
- Read: Mollusk graveyards are time machines to oceans’ pristine past
- Read: Phantom fossils: ancient impressions of marine organisms