All Things Cretaceous: Resource Collection

This page was written by Jen Aschoff as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education.

]Mississippi Delta, Half-dome of Yosemite, Big Horn Mountains Laramide uplift and Australian coastline (analogous to the Cretaceous Interior Seaway).These images are in the public domain.

What is the Cretaceous Collection?

The Cretaceous collection contains an assortment of digital resources relevant to the Cretaceous Period (145.5 - 65.5 million years ago). These resources cover a broad range of topics and include an array of media types. A variety of images, maps, visualizations, virtual field trips, databases, technical papers and general information are among the resource types found here. The Cretaceous collection was created to allow students and teachers alike to explore the complex relationships between physical Earth, changing climate and sea level, biota (evolving and extinct), and implications for modern society that are related to this amazing period of Earth's history.

Who is this Collection for?

The Cretaceous Collection was designed primarily for undergraduate and graduate level instructors and students. However, many of these useful resources are valuable teaching/learning tools for K-12 instructors, students and the general public alike.

How do I use the Collection?

To accommodate multiple teaching styles, resources in this collection are arranged into four searchable categories:

  1. Discovery Pathways
    Suggestions for learning about the Cretaceous in an earth system context.
  2. Browse Cretaceous Websites
    Use our handy search tool to quickly locate relevant information by subject area or type of resource (map, activity, etc).
  3. Key Cretaceous Topics
    Web resources are arranged in a topic-based hierarchy.
  4. Guided Student Activities
    Compelling questions about the Cretaceous Period are presented, along with embedded links for students to discover and synthesize new information.
    Questions Include:

This arrangement supports earth system science, investigative case-based, field-based, and traditional "topic by topic" pedagogies. For more information about these, and other teaching pedagogies refer to the Starting Point pages within SERC. It is possible to search for resources using several pathways to encourage inquiry and discovery in a variety of instructional settings.

Get Started!

Here are a few resources to show you a sampling of what is in the Cretaceous collection. Examples will get you going and provide some general background information about the Cretaceous.

  • Coalbed Methane in Wyoming. Coalbed methane (CH4) is a natural gas and valuable energy resource that occurs in coal beds. This site, hosted by an energy development corporation, explains the geology and stratigraphy of Wyoming in the context of the formation of coalbed methane and its occurrence in Wyoming. Maps, cross sections, stratigraphic columns and fence diagrams are provided to explain Cretaceous and Tertiary coalbed methane-plays in Wyoming. (more info)
  • Extinctions: Cycles Of Life and Death Through Time. As part of the Hooper Virtual Paleontological Museum this site provides a detailed summary of extinction events throughout time, hypotheses for their causes and the long-term implications of such events. The text describes all of the major extinctions, including the Cretaceous/Tertiary extinction, with scientific illustrations, photos and artistic renditions. Specific topics include major and minor mass biologic extinctions, temporal patterns of extinction, the demise of the dinosaurs, and all Phanerozoic extinction events. ( This site may be offline. )
  • Paleomap Project Earth History. The goal of the Earth History segment of the Paleomap Project is to illustrate global plate tectonic development, as well as the changing configuration of landmasses and seas during the past 1100 million years. An array of colorful paleogeographic maps for geologically significant periods of earth's history is provided. Each paleogeographic map displays the reconstructed positions of modern continental coastlines, shelf margins, major tectonic boundaries, active plate boundaries and seafloor spreading isochrones. The maps also include a short discussion indicating important geologic features and events for each period. (more info)
  • Regional Paleogeographic Views of Earth History. Regional paleogeographic reconstructions of North America, Colorado Plateau, SW North America, and Mesozoic terrane accretion. These beautiful reconstructions by geologist Ron Blakey (formerly Northern Arizona University) and Colorado Plateau Geosystems, Inc. ( This site may be offline. )
  • Some Representative Invertebrates from the Cretaceous Period. This site provides large, high resolution photos and information about a variety of Cretaceous invertebrate fossil specimens. Fossils are arranged taxonomically and can be viewed by clicking on the appropriate fossil group. Types of organisms covered on the site include Annelids, Jellyfish, Corals, Brachiopods, Echinoids, Gastropods, Crustaceans, Belemnites, Ammonites, and Nautiloids. (more info)
  • Sternberg Museum of Natural History: The Unofficial Virtual Tour. This virtual tour of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History covers a broad range of Cretaceous fauna with emphasis on marine life of the Western Interior Seaway. Topics include large marine fish (Xiphactinus), Inoceramid clams, mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, large turtles (Protostega), flightless toothed birds, dinosaurs (including Tyrannosaurus rex), flying reptiles (Pteranodons) and the Western Interior Seaway. (more info)
  • The Cretaceous Period. This resource discusses notable facts about the Cretaceous Period, the last portion of the "Age of Dinosaurs". The site covers Ceratopsians, such as the Tricerotops. It includes sections on stratigraphy, ancient life, localities and tectonics. (more info)
  • The Cretaceous Period: New Dinosaurs and Flowering Plants. This site forms a component of the Palaeos page, and provides information about several facets of the Cretaceous Period. The site supplies information about the paleogeography, paleobiology, plate tectonic framework and major seaways characterizing the Cretaceous with few supporting illustrations. Short descriptions and links to resources with more detailed information are supplied. Educators may find this site useful for creating lectures and compiling a reference list. (more info)
  • The Dinosauria: Truth is Stranger than Fiction. This historical background information discusses the myths associated with dinosaurs. The site contains links to sections entitled the Fossil Record, Life History and Ecology, Systematics, and More on Morphology. Additional links lead to special exhibits and detailed information about dinosaurs as well as sources for further reading. ( This site may be offline. )
  • Tour of Park Geology: Mountain Building. This site provides links to tours of National Parks, National Monuments, and Recreation Areas associated with major mountain building periods. The parks are divided into groups by mountain building events: Appalachian, Laramide, and others. Where appropriate, links are provided to park geology, maps, photographs, geologic research, related links, visitor information, multi-media, and teacher features (resources for teaching geology with National Park examples). The list includes places such as: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Shenandoah National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Mt. Rushmore National Monument, Yosemite National Park, and more. (more info)

About this Project...

Learn more about this project, Integrating Research and Education.