Fossils of Florissant

Fossil Earwig

Fossil Earwig on Display

The Florissant Fossil Bed National Monument near Florissant, Colorado is a destination for people interested in insect fossils. About 34 million years ago, a volcano in what is now Guffy, Colorado erupted spewing ash over the countryside to the east. Ash landed on the surface waters around Florissant. The injection of nutrients caused algal blooms. Insects that fell into the water and died were preserved by the algal mats and eventually fossilized.

Like many natural curiosities, the site was acquired by private interests who promoted it as a tourist destination. The site was visited by gawkers and collectors who removed many of the fossils on the surface, especially the petrified wood from the large tree trunks. The National Monument was created in 1969 and today houses a visitor’s center with many fossils of plants and insects on display. The site still contains many small fossils of insects that are under study by scientists.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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1 Response to Fossils of Florissant

  1. Christine Jones says:

    I was recently at Florissant with my Gem and Mineral club and found an insect at the Clare Fossil Quarry and got a good magnified picture of it. It is about 9mm long with a big 6 segmented abdomen, small thorax and head. You can see some of the legs but no wings are seen. I am thinking a small moth. I don’t think I can leave an attachment here but would be glad to send the picture if you would like to see it. Dr. Christine Jones

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