Life Takes Shape
500 Million Year Old Fossil Animals
Time Period: 485-541 million years ago, Cambrian
The USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum exhibit, is the first and only display of fossils from the Utah Cambrian Period 500 million years ago. You will be surprised to see these creatures look a lot like animals alive today.
Life Takes Shape displays over two dozen fossil from Utah. These animals rapidly evolved into complex animals during the Cambrian period. Western Utah happens to be one of world’s best places to find these early animals. Most of these fossils look small and insignificant, but these creatures paved the way for life as we know it!
During the Cambrian Period (485-541 million years ago) the main body plans for animals appeared for the first time in the fossil record. Pill-bug-looking trilobites are well known from this era, but all types of animals inhabited the shallow ocean of Utah; from giant shrimp, to hourglass shaped trilobites, spiny worms and sand dollar shaped sponges. This event has been referred to as the Cambrian Explosion, because there was a rapid radiation of life, which had never occurred before in the planet’s history. An illustration of the Cambrian ocean of Utah was produced to show the unique reef like ecosystem dominated by sponges, clams and arthropods.