Geologic Time Project

By Rachel Greif and Alyssa McCandlish

Sea Lamprey

Where Was this Fossil Discovered?

The Sea Lamprey fossil was discovered in a coal mine in Braidwood, Illinois.

How was the Fossil Brought From the Earth?

The fossil was able to be discovered because people were coal mining, and the fossil had been uncovered in the mine.

What Does The Fossil Look Like?

The Fossilization Process!

The Sea Lamprey's fossil is very rare because it is made mostly of cartilage. The most probable answer as to how the fossil was formed is by Carbonization. Carbonization is when gasses/liquids are pushed out, a layer of carbon that is very thin, also known as carbon film, is left behind as the only remains of the organism.

How Long Ago Did the Sea Lamprey Die?

There's truly no telling how long ago the Sea Lamprey that was fossilized (in the picture above) died. The Sea Lampreys today and the Se Lampreys that existed millions of years ago are exactly the same.

How Did a Sea Lamprey Get into a Coal Mine?

Sea Lampreys go into rivers during Spring and Summer to mate. When they mate, they go downstream, out of the sea and the male Sea Lamprey builds a sort of burrow. They go into the burrow with their heads sticking out (like in the picture below). Once the female has laid the eggs, they float downstream and die. For the Sea Lamprey that died in order to make the fossil, one Lamprey might have been able to get out of the burrow, but the other one may not have gotten out, making this fossil. Over millions of years, it is possible that the Sea Lamprey ended up in a coal mine this very way.


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