Between 99–140 million years ago, this heart-shaped sea urchin lived in the region that is now the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.
You may be wondering how a sea urchin could be found in the mountains. Fossilized creatures can sometimes tell us more about what happened after they lived than while they were living.
At this time in Earth’s history, all of the continents formed a single supercontinent called Pangaea. As Pangaea began to break up due to continental rifting, an inland sea formed and continued to grow as the landmasses moved further apart, eventually becoming the Atlantic Ocean.
This urchin lived and died in this sea, and its calcium carbonate body, called a test, remained underwater until sometime within the last 65 million years when the European and African land masses collided near present-day Morocco. This collision caused the formation of the Atlas Mountain range, which raised these fossils out of the sea.