Become a Wyoming Junior Paleontologist

The Radical Rock Cycle

Becoming a Wyoming Junior Paleontologist wouldn't be complete without learning about rocks too! That's why we are going to introduce the Rock Cycle.

When you're looking at a rock, you're actually looking at a snapshot of history that reflects ancient environments and conditions in the past. All the rocks in the world used to be melted rock (what we call molten rock, or igneous rocks) just like the rocks that ooze or shoot out of volcanoes.

Sometimes these rocks can get pushed deep underground and squished, squashed, squeezed, and swirled together by heat and pressure. When they blend together, it forms a new type of rock called a metamorphic rock.

Wind and water (like rain or rivers) moving over the Earth's surface can break rocks down into small pieces. Sometimes, enough water will mix the broken rock around and then harden them together, making what we call sedimentary rocks.

Take a look at the picture of this "Rock Cycle" below. Check out how each type of rock can turn into the other two. Doesn't that rock?!?

The Rock Cycle showing the formation of each rock type, and how they are all connected.

Of the three rock types, what type of rock do you think fossils are most commonly found in? Would it be igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary?

(Here's a hint: fossils can't form in molten rock because it's just too hot, and fossils can't form deep underground becuase the pressure is too high).

Good Job! Move on to complete your last challenge before becoming a Wyoming Junior Paleontologist!