Puzzling the Past: Puzzles, Fossils and Meteorites

People solving prehistoric puzzles at Flandrau

Travel back in time and discover the secrets of Ancient Earth! Flandrau’s new Puzzling the Past exhibits highlight puzzles, fossils, and meteorites to tell the story of our planet’s geologic history, from the dawn of life to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs! As you tour through time, you can also test your wits with our hands-on puzzles. Explore!

Hands-On Puzzles
Have a seat and spend some time searching for solutions to a variety of mind-bending puzzles. Developed in collaboration with the UA Department of Mathematics, these brain teasers offer challenges for a wide range of puzzle seekers, from beginner to advanced.

Geologic Timeline
Did you know that the planet Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago? Incredibly, scientists have put together the puzzle of Ancient Earth by studying rocks and fossils to understand how minerals formed and life evolved over vast spans of time – the Geologic Time Scale. Explore our 24-foot long Geologic Timeline, and learn about Earth’s dynamic and tumultuous past as life emerged in the oceans, changed our atmosphere, and transformed our rocks. And don’t miss the giant life-size replica Tyrannosaurus rex skull, the most famous of dinosaurs!

Meteorites are rocks from space, and they hold clues to understanding our Solar System and the cosmos. You’ll see the difference between an asteroid, a meteor, and a meteorite, and you’ll discover how asteroids are different from comets. Learn about the University of Arizona’s leadership in asteroid science, and the breakthrough NASA mission, OSIRIS-REx, that UArizona leads for NASA!

Trilobites ruled the seas for 250 million years! These long extinct arthropods left behind thrived in vast array of shapes and sizes, and they left behind a fascinating fossil record. See the amazing fossils and learn about the unique adaptations that enabled these creatures to survive through so much of Earth’s history.

Fossil Corner
Did you know that dinosaurs once roamed Arizona? In our Fossil Corner exhibit you’ll see dinosaur bones found near Tucson, you’ll see amazing fossils of ancient creatures, and you’ll travel back in time gazing at our “Paleo Reef” display that shows what life in the oceans looked like millions of years ago. Then play our “how to become a fossil” game and discover how many things have to happen just right for creatures to become a fossil in sedimentary rock. Dig into Flandrau’s Fossil Corner and discover the treasures of Earth’s past.