Fossils of Mazon Creek

Overview

This resource kit challenges students to observe fossils from the Mazon Creek ecosystem that existed 300 Million years ago in Illinois and to use their observations to form a hypothesis of what this environment looked like. The activities are intended to be completed in order of their appearance on the resource kit page right to left, top to bottom, as follows:

1. Fossils of Mazon Creek - Observe fossils from Mazon Creek to imagine what these creatures would have looked like.

2. Comparable Modern Specimen - Take a look at images and photos of extinct and extant creatures depicting what some Mazon Creek specimens would have looked like. Think about how scientists and artists use fossils and modern specimen to try to reconstruct what a creature from the past might have looked like.

3. Mazon Creek ecosystem design - Using observations from the past two activities, sketch out a representation of what you think the Mazon Creek ecosystem looked like.

4. Mazon Creek Forest Diorama - Explore a full-size diorama depicting the terrestrial environment of Mazon Creek. Identify familiar organisms and think about how the environment may have transformed from the one 300 million years ago to today's ecosystem.