Category Archives: Invertebrate fossils

Fossil Friday – pea clam

While the Diamond Valley Lake fossil fauna is best known for its mammals, there were also thousands of mollusks recovered. These are mostly minute freshwater species, and even though we have thousands of them the all fit easily in a single specimen case. Continue reading

Fossils of my youth

Inspired by the #GatewayFossil hashtag on Twitter, I’m reposting this piece that I originally published at “Updates from the Paleontology Lab” on June 9, 2009.

My first exposure to fossils in the field (as opposed to in a museum) occurred when I was around 5 years old. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Foerstephyllum vacuum colony

Western Science Center has a relatively small collection of invertebrate fossils, but we’ve been working over the last two years to increase our holdings of invertebrate specimens. 
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Fossil Friday – Pupilla muscorum


To human eyes, the most noticeable┬áparts of every ecosystem are the big, charismatic organisms; there’s a reason the blog is called “Valley of the Mastodon”. But in terms of numbers of individuals and, usually, total biomass, small organisms actually dominate ecosystems. That’s often reflected in the fossil record as well. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Isorthoceras sociale

IMG_4043During the Mastodons of Unusual Size road trip, Brett and I made several stops to collect fossils for WSC. Since I was 20 years old, I’ve made several visits to the small, well-known (to paleontologists) roadcut in Graf, Iowa (the photo below was from a trip I made there in 2007): Continue reading

Capitan Reef Complex

DSCN4446As Brett and I headed east over the weekend on our way to collect mastodon data, we made a few detours to examine geologic features and collect fossils for the museum. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – ram’s horn snail

DSCN1998During the Pleistocene, Diamond Valley seems to have been quite a bit wetter than it is now (at least, than it was before it was turned into a reservoir). A fair number of organisms associated with standing water were collected in these deposits, including snails. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Carboniferous mollusks

As Brett, Tim, and I headed back to Virginia after our fossil plant collecting trip to Beckley, West Virginia a couple of weeks ago, we made a second brief collecting stop in Princeton, WV. Several years ago, Tim and I stumbled onto a fossiliferous outcrop while fixing a flat tire of my field truck, so we revisited this site to collect some specimens for WSC. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – nautiloid cephalopod

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Because I’m still at the SE GSA conference today’s Fossil Friday post will have to be a short one. Last week Brett and I were in Chicago for the NSTA conference, after which we started driving to Chattanooga for SE GSA. The drive across the intervening states of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky took us through some of richest fossil deposits in the world, the Ordovician rocks of the Cincinnati Arch. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – amber snails

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Worldwide, easily the most common fossils are from marine invertebrates. Most sedimentary rocks are formed in the ocean, invertebrates are present in vast numbers, and the ocean is an excellent place to be buried in the mud, increasing the likelihood of being preserved. In contrast, the fossil collections at the Western Science Center are dominated by terrestrial deposits from Riverside County, so most of our fossils are land vertebrates. We do, however, have a pretty good collection of terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates in the collections. Continue reading