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New York, US



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State Fossil:
State fossil from New York

Eurypterus remipes
This “sea scorpion” was a terrifying predator of the Silurian (~ 430–415 million years ago), hunting the trilobites and cephalopods living in sea covering most of North America. Eurypterus could grow up to 2 m in length, making it the largest arthropod that ever lived.

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Paleontology and geology

The Precambrian: Precambrian rocks are exposed in the Adirondack region of New York. These rocks are mainly metamorphic and igneous and contain few fossils.

The Paleozoic: Paleozoic rocks are well represented in the state of New York. During the late Cambrian and Ordovician, sea level rose, covering the state with a shallow sea. Cambrian sedimentary rocks are preserved in patchy areas around the Adirondack Dome in northeastern New York. Ordovician rocks are more extensively exposed around the state. Fossils of trilobites, brachiopods, clams, and other marine organisms can be found in these rocks. Late in the Ordovician, an episode of mountain building (the Taconic Orogeny) buckled the crust and raised mountains in what is now southeastern New York. These mountains had eroded away by the Silurian, and sea level had dropped. The sea covering the western part of the state had become extremely shallow and salty, and rapid evaporation led to the formation of Silurian-age salt deposits. Marine fossils can be collected from Silurian rocks exposed between Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes region.

Devonian-age sedimentary rocks are exposed in central and southern New York. Mountains formed by the Acadian Orogeny during this time eroded rapidly, providing huge amounts of sediments to rivers and streams. This sediment was deposited on the Catskill Delta and into the inland ocean to the west. Plant fossils indicate that some of the earliest forests flourished on the delta sediments. Erosion has removed all Carboniferous and Permian rocks in New York.

The Mesozoic: There are very few Mesozoic rocks exposed in New York. Rift basins formed along the margin of North America during the Triassic/Jurassic as the supercontinent Pangea broke apart. The reddish-brown sedimentary rocks and basalt resulting from these tectonic activities can be seen in a few localities in the far southeastern part of the state. Cretaceous sediments of the Coastal Plain Province can be seen on Long Island. Many Cretaceous deposits had not yet been cemented or compacted into rock and were eroded from highlands to the west and transported by rivers to the coast.

The Cenozoic: Most Tertiary sediments deposited from the newly uplifted Adirondacks were scraped up by Pleistocene glaciers and pushed south. Thus, the Cenozoic is represented in New York mainly by Quaternary sediments. A series of terminal moraines and other Quaternary glacial deposits across New York record the repeated advances and retreats of enormous ice sheets across the state. The ice sheets also helped to shape the topography and drainage characteristics of New York today, including the Finger Lakes. Recent Quaternary deposits also make up most of the sediment adjacent to modern estuaries and streams.

Links to more on New York paleontology

Collecting and Legalities | Organizations | Education and Exhibits | Research and Collections | Resources

Collecting and Legalities

Where to Collect Fossils (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center: A natural history center, where visitors can collect their own trilobites. The web page includes information on how to get to the site, fossils which can be found there, and other information.

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Societies and Clubs (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Rochester Academy of Science - Fossil Section: The Fossil Section is open to all who have an interest in the collecting, study, preparation and display of fossils. Active participation by members in the program to collect, preserve, and study paleontological material is encouraged. The Section is pledged to work, in cooperation with scientific institutions, for the preservation of the geologic record. Several field trips to fossil collecting sites in New York State are held each year. Talks by professional paleontologists or knowledgeable collectors are coupled with interesting displays of fossil finds.

New York Paleontological Society: The New York Paleontological Society, founded in 1970, was established to promote the dissemination of knowledge in paleontology and related fields. In addition to the regular meetings, the Society offers field trips in the fall and spring to fossil sites both far and near.

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Colleges and Universities (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Stony Brook University Vertebrate Fossil Preparation Laboratory: Information on the people and research projects at Stony Brook University; also includes general information on fossil preparation techniques.

Geology Department at Colgate University: provides information about people and research in the Geology Department at Colgate University, including paleontological projects on ancient reefs in Alaska, Russia, and Mongolia and on the taphonomy of dinosaur eggs

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Museums (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Museum of the Earth: PRI's natural history museum explores the history of life on Earth.

Garvies Point Museum official website: Garvies Point Museum and Preserve is located on Long Island's north shore in New York State. We are a center for regional geology research. Our exhibits deal with regional (Long Island and New York State) geology, fossilization and minerology and the ehnography and archaeology of northeastern Native Americans. Our exhibit "Drifitng Lands and Ancient Seas" details the geology of New York State coordinated with plate tectonics. 

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Education and Exhibits

Physical Exhibits (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Fossil Halls: One of the major attractions in NYC is the Museum's series of fossil halls, including its two famed dinosaur halls. The fossil halls display specimens according to evolutionary relationships, dramatically illustrating the complex branches of the tree of life, in which animals are grouped according to their shared physical characteristics.

Robert M. Linsley Museum at Colgate University: The Robert M. Linsley Museum exhibits fossils, minerals, rocks, and the geology of New York State. We are fortunate to have some exceptional specimens on display, including eurypterids, Dipleura trilobites, gems, large mineral clusters, and scores of Herkimer "diamonds." A mural painted by local artist Rachel Amann depicts life in Hamilton during the Devonian period when local shales and siltstones accumulated. The museum is open during regular business hours (8 am- 5 pm) Monday-Friday.

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Virtual Exhibits (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Colgate's dinosaur egg: Through an improbable and fortuitous set of circumstances, Colgate University came to possess one of the first dinosaur eggs ever discovered, yielding the first definitive evidence of how some dinosaurs reproduced. Our 80 million-year-old specimen is from the first clutch of dinosaur eggs found at the Flaming Cliffs during Roy Chapman Andrews’ 1923 expedition to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. This virtual exhibit, which amplifies the small physical exhibit of the egg on display in the Linsley Museum (Lathrop Hall at Colgate University), explains the historical, cultural, and scientific importance of our Oviraptor egg.

Eurypterids.net: This image-rich website provides a description of eurypterid fossils, sites, and museums. It also includes fossil scorpions and invertebrates often associated with eurypterid faunas.

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Research and Collections

Ongoing Research Projects (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History: The Division of Paleontology is home to one of the largest fossil collections in the world. This database includes fossil specimen data, specimen photos, and archive information.

Geologic Overview of the Trenton Group at West Canada Creek, New York: This is an NSF funded website that focuses on Charles Walcott's and Tom Whiteley's collections from the Trenton Falls area that are reposited in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. The website covers the Social History, Geology, and Paleontology of the area. The geologic setting and the sedimentary geology are covered in detail and the paleontology section includes descriptions and photographs of fossil specimens.

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Curriculum and Classroom Resources (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Teacher-Friendly Guides to Geology: Provides teachers with an intuitive and jargon-free review of the geology of different regions of the United States. 

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