Seashells at Franklin Mountains tell stories nearly as old as time

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso’s history goes back to millions of years ago when the desert used to be at the bottom of the ocean, leaving us with carbonized reminders of the sea life that you can find to this day.

“A couple hundred million years ago, El Paso was completely under water. In different time periods, we were further out in the sea and closer to the shore,” said Amanda Labrado, a doctorate candidate for Geology Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Labrado began to tell the story, nearly as old as time, that takes us back to almost 500 million years ago. Plants and animals living in the ocean back then are now scattered around El Paso as fossils, especially in the Franklin Mountains.

“You can find different types of fossils, different types of shells, corals, brachiopods. El Paso group has trilobites, which are really cool and you can find them all over Franklins,” explained Labrado, adding that you can even find fossils of sponges and crinoid stems that look like tubes.

When taking a hike across the Franklins or strolling in El Paso parks, Labrado advises to look around for fossils, but warns to be mindful of the environment and to not destroy rocks in the area.

“We don’t want to damage any of the rocks because the more people take things from these places, the less we will be able to see in the future, so we need to try and preserve as much as we can,” explained Labrado.

She said that some fossils might be buried deeper in the ground and be connected to a rock, but some might be in visible places. If you can easily access without damaging the ground, she said it’s OK to keep it.

Some of these fossils collected over the years can be found at the Centennial Museum at UTEP, where Geology students study them.

Labrado said El Paso Geological Society offers hikes for everyone and anyone interested in digging deeper into the past of El Paso grounds.

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