Ancient Wisconsin

500,000,000 years ago. Near Mosinee in north central Wisconsin is a flagstone quarry laden with perfectly preserved late Cambrian
Period fossils. Among the fossils found in this quarry are numerous jellyfish impressions set in layers of rippled sandstone where there
once was shallow tropical seashore. The huge Scyphozoan medusae jellyfish are not only one of the fiercest predators of their time but
are also the largest jellyfish ever to be part of fossil record. The quarry contains different layers with densely populated impressions -
likely result of a mass-stranding of these jellyfish by a series of tropical storms over a long period of time. Such strandings frequently
still occur on Earth, but in the Cambrian, there were no land predators. The medusae jellyfish fossils have so far been found in seven
layers in the quarry - 12 vertical feet of rock, a time span of about one million years. I love imagining ancient landscapes, and
Wisconsin's was extraordinary. It's hard to drive by the Mosinee area in Marathon County without thinking about the great island dotted
shallow seas that dominated our landscape for so long.

Compiled by Mary Sutherland


815 367 1006

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