When people of think fossils two things generally come to mind. First they think BIG: big dinosaurs! big mammals! big fish! Second they think HARD: hard bones! hard teeth! hard tusks and hard shells.
Which is why for today’s #FossilFriday we’re subverting the narrative by checking out some small, soft fossils in our collection!
Specifically, a feather and a fly from Utah’s Green River Formation.
The Green River formation dates back 50 million years ago during the Eocene Epoch when Utah, Wyoming and Colorado were covered in large intermountain lakes. If you’ve ever stopped at one of Utah’s many Rock shops along our scenic byways and seen Plant or Fish fossils displayed, you’ve probably seen fossils from the Green River Formation!
This feather is only one of a handful of fossilized feathers in our entire collection and probably belonged to a bird! (“No, duh!” you might be thinking to yourself, but consider this, our other feather in collections could easily have belonged to a dinosaur!)
Insects with hard caprices are far more likely to fossilize than those with soft bodies, like this fly, which why it’s so special to our collection. Fossilized insects and animals of all types help tell us the long and interesting evolutionary history of life on earth.