What Type of Fossil Did My 5-Year Old Find?


Putting on my paleo-hat which grants me all the expertise of paleontologists around the world, I tell you that’s a shelled worm.

removes hat, looks around and runs away before the real paleoguys come around


Looks crinoid-stalkish.


I don’t know what it is - other than it is really cool! That’s an exciting find!



Can we get a photo with a coin next to the fossil for scale?

They are about 3 to 4 quarter lengths long, a couple inches.

That’s certainly in the right size range to be crinoid stalks, and those are among the most common fossils found in many places, so that wouldn’t be a surprising answer. Great little find! We went fossil hunting in eastern WA this weekend, in strata about 50my old – found a beetle wing, elm leaves, pine needles and some other bits…not crinoid country.


A FB friend says …

Nautiloid (orthocone) most likely. Less chance of being a crinoid.

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Can you provide us a general location?

If you have an Android phone check out the “Rockd” app. This will give you geological maps of your loction, and tapping the map areas will pop up a name and description of the formations.

I vote for Crinoid columnals, and some of the other debris around them seem to be fragments of Bryozoans.

Both are typical of shallow, relatively warm marine enviroments.

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While in the geology neighbourhood…

Hiking up Mount Temple in Banff National Park, on talus above tree line, I encountered this one off rock with 3 to 5 inch blisters. Anyone more versed in geology with any idea as to what they might be? Formation is Cambrian.

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Interesting suggestion. There are known Stromatolites, larger in size, about 20 miles removed to the north.

Some big stromatolites along the Tapeats Creek trail, Grand Canyon.

Google Photos

Funny thing, my brother was reviewing the guidebook during lunch and telling us to be on the lookout for stromatolites. I stood up to take some photos of the creek and realized I was standing on one.

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I concur with the crinoid stem idea.

Like this?

Large stromatolite mound in the upper Chuar Group (Neoprotozoic; ~750 mya) in the Grand Canyon. Cardenas basalts - top of the Unkar Group, base of the Chuar - in the background.

Detail of the stromatolites. “Domal” structures - lumps - seen in a decent exposure.


First Stromatolite: “Hey buddy, what are you doing today?”
Second Stromatolite: “Not much, getting stoned.”

Of course, the other thing this could be is rabbit, of the pre-Cambrian sort. Or perhaps the type of carrot which it ate.

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Yes, like that drawing down the page a bit, labeled “columnal”. If this was anywhere around St. Louis, there are Mississippian limestones that are very common in the area, chock full of crinoids (mostly isolated stem segments), brachiopods, and bryozoans. When I was a kid, the walls of my junior high athletic field, and many other things in the area, were built from it.

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