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Fossils of the Lake Champlain Region
Article from VGS files, 1990. Author unknown.

These animals lived here over 400 million years ago, when the area that is now Lake Champlain Basin was part of a shallow tropical sea. The fossils were formed when shells, other hard parts of plants and animals or traces of the organisms, such as worm borings or animal tracks, were buried in limey mud. Over time, this mud cemented into limestone and shale.

 





Brachiopods are one of the easiest fossils to find. A brachiopod shell looks like a clamshell, but has a distinct ridge running down the center. Brachiopods are still living today.





Bryozoans are commonly called moss animals because of their appearance. Like coral, they are tiny soft-bodied animals that live in colonies. Each animal lives in its own chamber, giving the colony a honeycomb appearance. The most common bryozoan fossils here resemble twigs and gum drops.




Cephalopods are related to gastropods. Cephalopods lack feet and their shells are chambered. The cephalopods fossilized here are related to the chambered nautilus of today.




Corals are tiny flower-like animals that live in colonies. They are soft-bodied but secrete hard outer skeletons that form coral reefs. The fossils found in Vermont represent the first known species of coral.











Crinoids are related to starfish and sea urchins. They look like plants because the animal lives in a cup atop a stalk of columnals. Most often, only the fossilized columnals are found.

















Gastropods or snails can be found in almost any habitat. All gastropods have a well-defined head with eyes and tentacles, a main body that houses the internal organs and a foot. Many of the gastropods in the rocks of the Champlain Valley are large. Sometimes all that remains is the operculum, a hard covering that protects the foot of the gastropod.





Trilobites, ancient lobster-like creatures, are true representatives of their time. They first appeared about 520 million years ago, reached their height about 440 million years ago, and were extinct 400 million years ago. Like lobsters and crabs, they shed their shell to grow, leaving behind many fragments to fossilize.





Article from VGS files, 1990. Author unknown.

For information on the Charlotte Whale, we recommend you visit The Whalepage at Perkins Museum

 

Generalized Geologic 
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