Wyoming Spring Creek: Ancient Ecosystems

Knowledge of ancient ecosystems and modern ecological communities can allows us to better understand the earth system. Past environmental conditions and habitats reveal things about the current life of the area and how the planet changes over time. Although this post is about ecological processes, the geologic formations reveal a lot about this topic. When we examined the rock formations on the preserve, seeing ripples, burrows, or lines on the rocks can show how the water in that area flowed. For example, when there are larger ripples or lines the area may have been higher energy, with faster-moving water than in an area with smaller ripples. This can reveal the kind of animals living in this area, there probably were not as many shelled animals in a place having large ripples on rocks. The ability to recognize these things allows us to make connections to why the area is the way it is now.

Another example is when we find shelled animal fossils, fish scales, shark teeth, and dinosaur bones. Finding shelled animal fossils such as ammonites or clams reveals that the location may have been a beached area. The bedrock of the Wall Creek Formation is sandstone, which is thinly layered with crossbedding also revealing a beached area and why the formation looks the way it does. The rock layering, grain size, coloration, and erosion can reveal information about the current and past ecosystems. Finding fossils, and examining geologic formations shows evidence of past lives here and helps us to understand more about the ever-changing earth system and how things came to be today. Overall, the opportunity to look at this ecological evidence and understand why the area looks the way it does now is incredible. It makes me appreciate the earth’s abundant history, and how we’re just a speck on the timeline.

A fish scale from the Mowry Formation on the preserve.

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