Fossils that are millions of years old arrive at Chicago's Field Museum

The dinosaurs that reign at the Field Museum are perhaps looking a bit younger, compared to some new roommates moving in.

On Monday, the Field Museum held an unpacking party, carefully unwrapping fossil meteorites — perfectly preserved space rocks that slammed into Earth hundreds of millions of years before dinosaurs showed up.

"That was one of the first that fell about 467-million years ago, then about 200-thousand years later this one fell," explained Philipp Heck, Field Museum Curator of Meteorites, as he pointed to fossils during the unpacking.

They almost look like great countertops, which would've likely been their destiny when workers pulled the slabs from a limestone quarry in Sweden. But any plans for a kitchen renovation went out the window when it was discovered that these rocks were formed out of this world. They're remnants of a giant collision in space.


These rocks make up the largest collection of fossil meteorites and are being added to the vast research collection at the Field Museum where scientists hope they're ready to spill ancient secrets.

"These meteorites allow us to study how the solar system evolved. Without these meteorites, we wouldn't know that because the meteorites that fall today, that fell in the last 100 years, last thousand years, some of them are recovered from ice that are maybe up to a million years. But here we have meteorites that fell almost 500 million years ago. This is super exciting," said Heck.

Heck says besides meteorites, there are also fossilized sea creatures giving us a glimpse of our planet 500 million years ago — and perhaps embedded here, answers about how the climate has changed.

"We think actually there was so much meteorites, but mainly dust coming down from space that helped cool Earth's climate and change the environment," said Heck.

Another bonus, they're pretty to look at, so some will be on display at the Field Museum eventually.