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Marine Fossils Found in Iowa

During the early Paleozoic, much of Iowa was covered by a shallow sea. Over millions of years the sea levels rose and fell with the Earth’s climate changes. During the millions of years that Iowa was covered by shallow seas, marine invertebrates flourished. The diverse marine life included a multitude of coral species: trilobites, brachiopods, gastropods, crinoids, bryozoans and cephalopods.

Northeast Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • Why are marine fossils found in Iowa?
  • Where are marine fossils found in Iowa?
  • How do fossils help us learn about changes in life and on Earth?
  • How has life in Iowa developed and changed over time?

Classroom Suggestions

  • Engage: In small groups ask students to compare and contrast Iowa marine fossils and modern sea shells/snail shells (Brachiopods can be collected at the Fossil & Prairie Preserve in Rockford.).
  • Explore: Share the phenomena and discuss the diversity of marine life in Iowa.  
  • Field Trip: Take students on a field trip to either the Devonian Fossil Gorge in Coralville or Fossil & Prairie Preserve in Rockford, Iowa.  Contact a local rock quarry and ask if they have fossils you could use in your classroom. You could also ask the rock quarry’s geologist if they would speak to your students

Related Resources

Iowa Core Alignment

Life Science
Disciplinary Core Idea
LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Credit Info

Submitted by Jill Kelly


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