Layers

trilobite 2

Tiny trilobite graveyard preserved between the layers of a Cambrian Shale.

There’s a spot on the Conasauga River in northwest Georgia where you can visit a late Cambrian ocean preserved in a 500-million-year old shale. Shale is a relatively soft mudstone that splits easily along laminar planes, so with just a Swiss army knife or flathead screwdriver, you can split the pieces of stone that litter the river bank and often find the remains of some of the oldest complex life on Earth.

trilobite 5

These trilobites lived half a billion years ago when multicellular life was brand new to the oceans (and long before it had colonized the land).  They died 200 million years before the Earth dreamed of dinosaurs or assembled all the continents into one big Pangea-shaped piece. Their little carcasses then drifted to the bottom of the Iapetus Ocean off the coast of Laurentia and were buried in all the soft silty stuff on the sea bottom which eventually became shale liberally salted with their flattened fossils.

 

If you’d like to learn just a little more about trilobites, check out this link:

http://www.trilobites.info/triloecology.htm

Or if you’d like to learn a lot more about the fossils from this site, here’s an excellent paper:

http://ldsp01.columbusstate.edu:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11075/388/schwimmer.d._2012_anaphelaspiszone_southeasterngeology.pdf?sequence=3

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11 Comments

  1. What’s up, stranger? Good to have you back.

    Reply
  2. Welcome back, indeed…and how nice to see your appreciation of this view of life. 🙂

    Reply
    • Not nearly as beautiful as your views of life, but I get pretty enthusiastic about old rocks.

      Reply
      • Was quietly alluding to how you apparently don’t subscribe to the belief that life is between 6,000 to 10,000 years old on the planet….”there is grandeur in this view of life.”

        But yes, old rocks can inspire a bit of enthusiasm. 😉

  3. I’ll join the chorus: Welcome back!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Elyse. I’m not so sure I’m back as just visiting because I miss my WordPress friends. But I’m going to make time to try to catch up on my blog-reading before I go again.

      Reply
  4. Sherrie

     /  November 20, 2013

    Cool Tori. When did you go to Georgia? Remember when we found fossiled sharks teeth near Bryan, TX? And remember the snake in the tree?

    Reply
    • Yes, of course I remember that, Coppertop! I had a great time that day. And I thought you were very brave (once you stopped running and screaming). Thanks for humoring me and going fossil-hunting with me. I always felt bad about your scary snake encounter.

      Reply
  5. Charles Gallagher

     /  November 25, 2013

    I wonder how we are related to trilobytes; perhaps 34 degrees of separation whatever that means. Do they have two eyes?

    Reply
  6. Chris Bruno

     /  December 30, 2015

    Would you mind sharing the location of these finds? Have 2 young fossil hunters who would love to find some fossils!

    Reply

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