The Carboniferous in Illinois, US

Carboniferous in Illinois map

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Carboniferous Fossils
Fossil photos from Carboniferous in Illinois

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Paleontology and geology

The majority of exposed bedrock in Illinois is Carboniferous in age. In the Early Carboniferous (Mississippian), changes in the size of glaciers near the South Pole caused sea level to fluctuate over Illinois. There were alternating periods when Illinois was underwater and periods when it was dry land. Limestones of the Early Carboniferous are found in the western and southern portions of the state, and yield marine fossils of crinoids, blastoids, bryozoans, corals, brachiopods, and sharks.

During the Late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian), Illinois was dominated by a large river delta. Swamps covered much of the state, producing the coal deposits found in Illinois today. These swamps were inhabited by a tremendous variety of plants and animals, now referred to as the Mazon Creek flora and fauna. The fossils from Mazon Creek include ferns, seed ferns, extinct relatives of spiders, millipedes, and giant dragonflies, as well as jellyfish, shrimp, horseshoe crabs, clams, sharks, brachiopods, bony fishes, and the Tully monster.

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Organizations | Education and Exhibits | Research and Collections


Museums (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Burpee Museum of Natural History: The mission of Burpee Museum of Natural History is to inspire all people to engage in a lifetime of learning about the natural world.

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Education and Exhibits

Virtual Exhibits (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Mazon Creek Virtual Exhibit- University of California Museum of Paleontology: This page has more detailed information and additional links on the fossils at Mazon Creek, as well as the rocks, environment, plants, and animals of the Carboniferous.

Mazon Creek Fossils: Hosted by the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, IL, this site is a great resource for information on the rocks, fossils, and history of the Mazon Creek area, including many excellent images.

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Research and Collections

Researchers (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Dr. Thomas W. Kammer: Specialty: Evolutionary paleoecology of Paleozoic crinoids, plus lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, and sequence stratigraphy of marine Mississippian rocks in the east-central United States. Field areas include West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa.

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