Lake community of diatoms plants and animal life
Geologic period: Eocene
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Ancient Lake Florissant was formed when two or more stratovolcanoes sent ash and lahar flowing across the mountain valley that is now home to the Florissant Fossil Bed National Monument.
The lake, lahar flows and ash falls created an outstanding environment for preserving evidence of the animals, insects and plants found in this valley. The National Monument provides an unparalleled look into this vanished landscape and the Eocene plant and animal inhabitants that were preserved.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is located in Colorado, USA, west of Colorado Springs. The fossils from this area consist mostly of plants and insects, and a few vertebrates, from lake deposits of the Florissant Formation. This formation is dated at 34.07 million years old, and it represents the latest Eocene Epoch of earth history.
Located 35 miles west of Colorado Springs, Florissant Fossil Beds N.M. is a 6,000 acre wonderland of meadows, forests, and wildflowers. At 8,400 feet of elevation, the Monument lies within the montane life zone. Ponderosa Pine, Aspen, Fir, and Spruce are the dominant trees. Wapiti (Elk), mule deer, coyotes, foxes, bears, mountain lions, are some of the large mammals that inhabit the area. Birds of prey scan the meadows for ground squirrels and mice.
Beneath the ground is one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Up to 1700 different species have been described. A majority of those fossils are fragile, detailed compression and impression fossils of insects and plants. The largest fossils are massive, petrified Sequoia trees. These are some of the largest diameter petrified trees in the world.