Quiz: Test your Fossil Gem Knowledge

You might be able to identify a velociraptor and a stegosaurus, but how well do you know your fossil gems?


They might not be as showy or recognizable as lapis lazuli, but take a closer look. An amazing array of fossilized bead, pendant, and cabochon options awaits you and your designs. Fossil gems are rich in history and for sale online or at gem shows. 


First, let’s cover the basics by knowing what is a fossil. Per gemologist Renée Newman, “a fossil is the remains or impression of a plant, animal, or other prehistoric organism. The word originates from the Latin word ‘fossils,’ meaning ‘dug up.’ Fossilization occurs when the fossil’s original substance is replaced with minerals from their surroundings or underground fluids.” Now let’s dig deeper into the world of fossil gems. 


Test your fossil gem knowledge to see how many you can identify correctly.

Arizona rainbow petrified wood necklace set by Wild West Rock Jewelry Co.; Photo: Renee Newman

An example of petrified wood is Arizona’s state fossil, which is what type of wood?

  1. Shaggy bark juniper
  2. Mesquite 
  3. Pine
  4. Palm
Fossilized algae in Cotham marble from Barlows Gems; Photo: Renee Newman

Another name for fossilized algae is what?

  1. Accretion
  2. Stromatolite
  3. Accratolite
  4. Echinolite 
Bamboo beads by Village Silver Smith

The form of fossilized (agatized) bamboo shown here is called what?

  1. Rough 
  2. Indonesian
  3. Garden
  4. Tube
Baltic amber bead necklace by Solo Bozenas Amber Design; Photo: Renee Newman

What is the common term for amber with something (such as insects) inside of it?

  1. Embedded amber
  2. Enveloped amber
  3. Amber with encapsulations
  4. Ambers with inclusions
Fossilized octopus from Tejas Beads; Photo: Renee Newman

According to livescience.com, why are octopus fossils so rare?

  1. When an octopus dies, it quickly decays and liquefies into a slimy blob.
  2. The body of an octopus is composed almost entirely of muscle and skin.
  3. Both A and B.
  4. None of these
Fossilized ammonite bead strand from Tejas Beads; Photo: Renee Newman

Ammonite is the fossilized shell of extinct mollusks, and gets its name from where?

  1. Canadian miner
  2. Greek demigod
  3. Celtic lore
  4. Egyptian god



“During the Late Triassic period, approximately 225 million years ago,  Northern Arizona had a tropical climate that supported a vast forest of conifer trees. The majority of these trees were of the species Araucarioxylon arizonicum, a type of conifer that grew up to 200 feet tall, with a trunk up to 5 feet thick. It likely would have resembled a modern pine tree.” — fossilera.com



 “Stromatolite, layered deposit, mainly of limestone, formed by the growth of blue-green algae (primitive one-celled organisms). These structures are usually characterized by thin, alternating light and dark layers that may be flat, hummocky, or dome-shaped. The alternating layers are largely produced by the trapping of sediment washed up during storms on some occasions and by limestone precipitation by the blue-green algae on others.” — britannica.com



Limited supplies are sold through VillageSilverSmith.



“Amber is fossilized tree resin, which is produced by some trees as a form of protection from disease and wood-burrowing insects. Of special interest to scientists are ambers containing insects, 

pollen, leaves, and occasionally frogs and lizards that were trapped millions of years ago as the sticky resin dripped down the tree trunk. Ambers with inclusions provide a rare look at plant and insect life of that time period.” — Renee Newman, June 2020 Bead&Button magazine



“The body of an octopus is composed almost entirely of muscle and skin. When an octopus dies, it quickly decays and liquefies into a slimy blob. After just a few days there will be nothing left at all. And that assumes that the fresh carcass is not consumed almost immediately by scavengers.” — livescience.com



“Ammonite is the fossilized shell of extinct mollusks, known as ammonites. The fossil shells have a spiral shape resembling tightly coiled rams’ horns. The name was derived from the Egyptian god Ammon, who was typically depicted wearing rams’ horns.” — Renee Newman, June 2020 Bead&Button magazine



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