Lagerstatten Investigation

Leigh Fall, SUNY College at Oneonta
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Students create a short presentation on a Lagerstatte.

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This activity is used in an undergraduate required course in paleontology (300-level) for geology majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students need to know Powerpoint and how to research on the Internet or in the library.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is a stand-alone exercise during a lecture series on taphonomy.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal of the activity is to compare and contrast the different Lagerstatten over geologic time.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  1. Investigate a Lagerstatte
  2. Create presentation to communicate findings
  3. Assess the different types of Lagerstatten

Other skills goals for this activity

This activity is helpful for a project later in the semester when students present a journal article summary to the class.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students create a short Powerpoint presentation on their Lagerstatte. They must include the following information: (1) geographic location, (2) geologic age of the deposit, (3) geologic setting (e.g., lithology, depositional environment), (4) type of Lagerstatte (concentration or conservation), (5) types of fossil preservation present, (6) pictures of fossils found in the deposit, and (7) an interesting fact about the deposit. I randomly assign students a Lagerstatte by writing the name of the deposit on a piece of paper for students to draw from a hat or bag. I try to be sure that there is a wide range of types and ages of Lagerstatten. Each presentation has to include a works cited slide. To wrap up, a short discussion on the differences and similarities among the deposits is helpful.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity is conducted after I lecture on preservation and Lagerstatten. I usually give students about a week (or a little less) to investigate their Lagerstatten. I'm usually close to or finishing my lectures on taphonomy when the students present. The length of their presentation can change depending on the length of time you want to spend on the topic. The hardest part of the activity for students is learning when and how to cite sources in a presentation. I upload all the presentations to Angel so the students can review them.


Students have met the goal if they include the required information in their presentation. Another types of assessments include a reflection on the differences and similarities among the Lagerstatten or an exam question.

References and Resources