Ancient Algae In The Snowy Range Are A Stop On PBS's "Prehistoric Road Trip"

Jun 16, 2020

Compound stromatolite dome near the head of the "Valley of Stromatolites" in the Snowy Range.
Credit Donald W. Boyd and David R. Lageson

This summer, PBS will air a documentary on the geology, ecology and environment of the Great Plains over billions of years. The first episode of the PBS documentary "Prehistoric Road Trip" features Kelli Trujillo, a Laramie County Community College professor and paleontologist.

In her contribution to the documentary, Trujillo discussed the fossils of a bacteria very similar to blue green algae, called stromatolites. Trujillo explained that studying stromatolites is important because they played a huge role in creating the world we see today.

"They've actually caused one of the biggest mass extinctions ever by putting all of this poisonous oxygen into the atmosphere, which changed everything. And so they're kind of a big deal, even though they're just these tiny little bacteria," said Trujillo.

Trujillo took the host and producers of the documentary up into the Snowy Range to show them Wyoming's very own stromatolites, which are 2.1 billion years old. For more information on the stromatolites in the Snowy Range, check out this walking tour. The first episode of "Prehistoric Road Trip " airs on PBS on June 17.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.