Why do some of these fossils look like nothing that exists today?

Many of the fossils in the Zinsmeister Collection represent animals that no longer exist - they have become extinct. They may have been unable to compete for food, survive changes in temperature, or even been too slow or too unprotected to avoid being eaten by some new predator! In some cases, an event like e.g., a volcanic eruption can cause changes in the environment that causes the extinction of a group of organisms. Even though these animals no longer exist, their fossils provide a record of when they lived and died, and can even help us learn what caused them to become extinct.

This Kitchinites laurae is an example of an ammonoid - a group that became extinct shortly after the end of the Cretaceous Period.