Microfossils Lab (Labs 2 and 4)

Melissa Lobegeier
Middle Tennessee State University
Author Profile


Lab assignment in which students examine different types of microfossils and pick condont elements and foraminifera from sediments and then photograph their specimens using the SEM

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



undergraduate required course in invertebrate paleontology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Knowledge of the characteristics and terminology of the different groups of microfossils, knowledge of the paleobiology of the microfossil groups

How the activity is situated in the course

Two lab exercises completed early in the semester


Content/concepts goals for this activity

identification of condonts, foraminifera and radiolaria, shell types of different microfossil groups, picking microfossils from loose sediment

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

making paleobiological inferences

Other skills goals for this activity

operating the SEM, use of the Treastise of Invertebrate Paleontology

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity encompasses two lab exercises. In the first lab exercise students examine various different types of microfossils (conodonts, foraminifera and radiolaria) under the microscope and try to make paleobiological inferences about them based on their morphological characteristics. Students also pick different conodont elements and different foraminiferal species from sediment samples. Two foraminiferal specimens are selected for scanning electron microscopy. I mount the specimens to a stub for the students. Then in the next lab period students are given a guided tour of the SEM lab and work with the technician to operate the SEM and take photographs of their specimens. They then use the photographs in conjunction with the Treastise of Invertebrate Paleontology to make a generic identification of their specimens.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I compare the students lab answers to my handwritten answer sheet for the first lab exercise (Lab 2) and for the second I compare the photographs to the identification made by students.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials