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Fossil Examples and Identification for the Devonian of Western New York - Trilobites, Brachiopods, Corals, and More!


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Printable Fossil Identification Sheet for the Devonian of Western NY



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Trilobite

Devonian Fossil Examples from the Ludlowville and Moscow Formations at the Lake Erie Cliffs on the mouth of 18 Mile Creek and surrounding area in Western New York

~385 Million Years Old
Middle Devonian, Givetian
Hamilton Group, Ludlowville and Moscow Formations


Click on the image to go to the specific type of fossils, or scroll down to browse.
TRILOBITE
Eldredgeops milleri
(Phacops rana)
TRILOBITE
Greenops sp.
Spiriferid Brachiopods
Non-Spiriferid Brachiopods

Gastropods

Corals

Crinoids

Cephalopods

Bryozoan



Trilobites

Trilobites are probably what most people are after when they fossil hunt in Western NY. There is a trilobite bed exposed in the Hamilton Group. It requires a slight bit of digging at the Pen Dixie Site, but it's worth it as pristine specimens can be found.

Trilobites that can be found in this area include: Eldredgeops (Phacops) rana, Greenops sp., Dechenella (Basidechenella) rowi, and Trimerus (Dipleura) Dekayi.

Eldredgeops rana (Phacops rana) Trilobite

Why do some people not call these Phacops anymore?

In a nutshell... It all started with a research paper by Struve in 1990, he found some slight differences between Phacops species in Europe and North America and Phacops in Morocco, particularly in the eyes and lenses. He found enough differences that he erected a new genus, Eldredgeops, for Phacops rana of North America and Europe.

However, others say there needs to be more research done before erecting a whole new genus for the rana species.
So for now, and probably the next dozen or so years, this trilobite will have an identity crisis... Phacops rana and Eldredgops rana.

This isn't the first time Phacops has been broken up into different genera. The slight differences in the eyes is also why we have the genera "Paciphacops" and "Kainops" for Phacops looking trilobites.
(Struve, W. 1990. [Paläozoologie III (1986-1990)]. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 127: 251-279)


Anyhow, Eldredgeops/Phacops is by far the most abundant trilobite in the Devonian of Western New York. It is very easy to identify, as it has the famous "Frog Eyes" and large glabella (nose like thing). Besides for these two features, it is a rather plain looking trilobite.

Click on the image to go to the Trilobite Fossils for more examples.

phacops rana trilobite fossil from new york; devonian


Greenops sp. Trilobite

Greenops barberi , Greenops grabaui
(Formerly Greenops boothi)


Greenops trilobites are small, usually no more than 1.5 inches in length. They have spines coming from the cephalon, and an ornamented pygidium (tail) fringe.
G. barberi has shorter, more triangular fringes, while G. grabaui has longer fringes.

Click on the image to go to the Trilobite Fossils for more examples.

greenops fossil trilobite from the devonian of new york


Spiriferid Brachiopods

Brachiopods are similar to mollusks, like clams, however, they are not closely related.

Unlike most present day mollusks, the two shells of a brachiopod were different sizes.

Brachiopods were the dominant form of life in the seas in most of the Paleozoic, including the Devonian. Therefore, they are a very common fossil of the Devonian coral reefs in Western New York. Dozens upon dozens of species and genera can be found in the fossilized Devonian coral reefs.

Spiriferid Brachiopods refer to a few genera that have a similar shape. They are hemi-elliptical in shape, in that their shape is a very wide half-arc. The shell hinge is generally very long, and usually straight. They are also often radially striated.

Many genera and species Spiriferid Brachippods occur in the Devonian of Western New York.

Specimens on this page include: Mucrospirifer Mucronatus , Mediopirifer Audaculus , and Spinocyrtia Granulose.


Mucrospirifer Mucronatus


M. Mucronatus is a small to medium sized brachiopod fossil. It is very beautiful in that the hinge line is straight and very long, ending in a spine-like point. The term Mucronate means to end abruptly in a point.
Unfortunately, the mucronate ends are often broken off.

They are very wide, usually 3 or 4 times wider than the height. They have radial striations, and often numerous growth lines are visible.

Devonian fossil shell Brachiopod plate from New York; Mucrospirifer mucronatus
If you can find one still in the matrix, the long mucronate spines can still be preserved.
Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
Age: Middle Devonian
Location: Western NY
Size: The larger one is 2 1/8" (54mm)
Devonian fossil shell Brachiopod from New York; Mucrospirifer mucronatus
Devonian fossil shell Brachiopod from New York; Mucrospirifer mucronatus
This specimen is inflated, but a little squished.
Formation:
  • Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age:
  • Middle Devonian
    Location:
  • Western NY
    Size:
  • 1 7/8" (48 mm)

  • Mediopirifer Audaculus (Spirifer Audaculus)

    These fossil brachiopods are more robust looking than M. mucronatus. Also the hinge line is not as straight as in M. mucronatus, and they are less elliptical, in that their width and height are not in as extreme proportions as M. mucronatus. They have more of a semi-circle shape.

    Devonian fossil shell Brachiopod from New York; Mediospirifer audaculus
    Devonian fossil Brachiopod from New York; Mediospirifer audaculus
    This specimen is inflated, but again, a little squished. They are a more convex than M. mucronatus.
    Formation:
  • Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age:
  • Middle Devonian
    Location:
  • Western NY
    Size:
  • 1.5" (38 mm)

  • Spinocyrtia Granulose
    (Spirifer Granulosus)


    This is a very large spiriferid brachiopod fossil. It looks like a large, more robust, version of M. audaculus. It is very rounded, and the hinge line is not straight, but is slightly concave. It's called spinocyrtia because of fine spines (almost like tiny hairs) that cover the brachiopod. These spines are only preserved on exceptional specimens.

    Devonian fossil shell Brachiopod Spinocyrtia Granulosa from New York; Hamilton Group
    This specimen is a little squished, as the top shell is partially slid into the bottom one.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size: The larger one is 2 3/8"" (60mm)


    Non-Spiriferid Brachiopods
    This simply refers to the brachiopods that do not have the spiriferid shape.

    Fossil specimens on this page currently include: Athyris Spiriferoides , Rhipidomella sp. , Pseudoatrypa Devoniana. , Spinatrypa Spinosa. , Stropheodonta Demissa. , Pseudoatrypa Devoniana. , and Longispina mucronatus.
    Athyris Spiriferoides

    These brachiopods are very easy to identify. They have a robust appearance, have very round outline, and both valves are convex, the ventral larger than the dorsal. The valves also have thick growth rings, or lamellae on them.

    Devonian fossil brachiopod from New York; Athyris Spiriferoides
    The above specimens show the circular like shape. The lower left spefimen shows a side view with the hinge line facing forward. It shows the very convex shape of both the ventral and dorsal valve.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size: The larger one is 1.5" (38mm)
    Rhipidomella sp.

    These fossil brachiopods are very circular and flat, looking like little silver dollars. The valves are both slightly convex, and are covered by little radail lines, or striations. There are a few species of them, most species are difficult to tell apart.

    Rhipidomella Penelope

    This is the largest Rhipodomella brachiopod. usually they are over an inch in width. The hinge line appears more straight than the other Rhipodomella species.

    Devonian fossil shell brachiopod from New York; rhipidomella Penelope (Hall)
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size: The larger one is 1.5" (38mm)
    Rhipidomella ?vanuxemi

    This specimen is probably R. vanuxemi. It is more tear-dropped shaped (the length and width are more equal) than R. penelope, and slightly smaller.

    Devonian fossil brachiopod from New York; rhipidomella vanuxemi
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size: 15/16" (24mm)
    Pseudoatrypa Devoniana

    These robust looking brachiopods are easy to identify. The shape speaks for itself. The pedical valve is nearly flat, while the brachial valve is extremely convex. They are also covered in prominent plications, or radial lines.

    Devonian fossil shell brachiopod from New York; pseudoatrypa devoniana
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size: The larger one is 1.25"(32mm)
    Spinatrypa Spinosa (Atrypa Spinosa)

    Spinatrypa spinosa is called Atrypa Spinosa in old publications. The name has been revised a while back. This somewhat smaller brachiopod is relatively common in the Moscow shale of the Hamilton group. The two valves are similarly convex; the pedical valve is only slightly less convex. It also has very course plications, or radial lines running down the valves.

    Devonian fossil shell brachiopod from New York; spinatrypa spinosa
    Formation:Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size: ~1"(25mm)
    Stropheodonta Demissa

    This is a medium sized brachiopod fossil. It has an easily identifiable shape, looking like a half-circle. The pedical valve is very convex, while the brachial valve is concave. It also has strong radial striations running the length of both shells.

    There is a very similar looking brachiopod called Megastrophia concava. However, it is much larger in size.

    Devonian fossil shell brachiopod from New York; stropheodonta demissa
    Formation:Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size:larger one is ~1.5"(38mm)
    Longispina mucronatus

    These are small brachiopod fossils. I often find them pyritized, like the two below. There is also another image of one on the Phacops page. It is next to an enrolled phacops.

    pyritized Devonian fossil shell brachiopod from New York; longispina mucronatus
    Formation:Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size:larger one is ~5/8"(16mm)


    Gastropods (Snails)
    Gastropod fossils appear to be much less common than brachiopods and corals, but they are present.
    Currently, I have 1 gastropod specimen: Naticonema lineata

    Naticonema lineata

    This is a small fossil gastropod. Growth lines are visible.

    Devonian fossil gastropod from New York; naticonema lineata
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size:3/4" (19mm)

    Coral
    Fossil corals are abundant in the Devonian. Many are solitary "Horn" Corals.

    Pleurodictyum americanum
    Tabulate Coral


    These Tabulate corals are easy to identify, as they have a honeycomb pattern, and look like little golf balls cut in half.
    All Tabulate corals are now extinct.

    One intersting thing to note about these Pleurodictyum corals, is most look like they have a little "pie slice" cut out of the bottom of them. This can be seen in the image below.
    This "pie slice" is actually the mold of a gastropod, Palaeozygopleura Hamiltoniae. It appears this tabulate coral prefered to use these gastropod shells to colonize on.

    Devonian fossil tabulate coral from New York; pleurodictyum americanum
    This shows differnt views of the tabulate coral. The coral on the left is water worn. Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size:1" (25mm)
    Devonian fossil tabulate coral from New York; pleurodictyum americanum
    These are two pleurodictyum tabulate corals growing on other objects. The one in matrix is growing on something underneath it that is pyritized. It also has allot of quartzite on it, so I can't prep it out to see what it is. The other one is a tiny one growing on a Mucrospirifer Mucronatus.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    "Horn" Corals
    Solitary Roguse Corals


    Fossil Horn corals are a type of Roguse Coral. They do not live in colonies, so they are referred to as solitary.
    All Roguse corals are now extinct.
    There are quite a few species and genera of roguse corals to be found, however, I have always been uncomfortable at identifying them.
    Common ones found in the Devonian of Western New York include heliophyllum Halli, and Stereolasma Rectum.

    Devonian fossil solitary roguse horn coral from New York
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY

    Crinoids
    Crinoids are commonly called Sea Lillys. They were much more diverse and common in the paleozoic, but still exist today. However, most crinoids today are free swimming, and do not have a stem that anchors them onto the sea floor, like in fossil specimens. There are some deep sea crinoids that still have the stalk, which look like the fossil ones.

    Crinoids are very beautiful when preserved well. Unfortunately, in this area, it is difficult to find well preserved fossil specimens.

    Crinoid stem and part of Calyx

    Devonian fossil crinoid from New York
    This specimen has a large portion of the stem preserved. However, it appears the Calyx (head) had started to deteriorate before fossillization.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Crinoid coiled holdfasts
    Some types of crinoids have "roots" that wrap around an object in order to anchor them in place. They sometimes look like little ropes wound in a circle.
    Devonian fossil of a crinoid coiled holdfast from New York
    This interesting fossil looks like a bunch of ropes wound together. It is from the bottom of a crinoid. It is part of a holdfast, or anchor. It was probably coiled around an object to help anchor the animal.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size: 1.25" diameter (32mm)
    Crinoid encrusting holdfasts
    Unlike the coiled holdfasts of some crinoids, other crinoids have an encrusting holdfast. It's kind of like a root that grows around an object, which holds the crinoid in place.
    Devonian fossil crinoid encrusting holdfast sections from New York
    These are fragments of encrusting holdfasts.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Devonian fossil crinoid encrusting holdfast section on plate from New York
    This is another section of an encrusting holdfast from a fossil crinoid.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Crinoid stem sections
    These fossils are stem fragments from Crinoids. The stems are composed of numerous disks, or columnals. The Columnals come in many disk-like shapes, depending on the species.

    The lower stem fragment in the image has bryazoans encrusting it.
    Devonian fossil crinoid stem sections from New York
    The fossil crinoid stem sections are the most common parts of crinoids found while fossil collecting.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Cephalopods
    Cephalopods are part of the mollusk class. Cephalopods include squid, cuttlefish, octopus, and the nautilus.

    Cephaolopods were much more abundant in the Paleozoic. There were many forms of Nautiloids, including odd straight-shelled forms. There were also the well known Ammonites and Belemnites that do not exist today.

    Straight-Shelled Nautiloids
    Although there are only 2 genus of Nautiloids alive today, they were much more diverse in the past. Many forms had a straight shell instead of a coiled shell. Nothing comparable lives today.
    Spyroceras sp. - Straight-Shelled Nautiloid
    Devonian fossil straight shelled Nautiloid fossil from New York; spyroceras
    Fossils of Straight-Shelled Nautiloids are very fragile, and as a result, are often found fragmented. This is a piece of one.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Devonian straight shelled Nautiloid fossil from New York; spyroceras cephalopod
    This is an impression, or cast, of a striaght-shelled nautiloid. The actual fossil probably eroded away at some point. The impression is painted in with artists fixative to make it contrast more from the surrounding rock.
    Formation: Wanakah Shale, Ludlowville Formation, Hamilton Group
    Age: Middle Devonian
    Location: Western NY
    Size: ~3.5" long (89mm)


    ? sp.
    Straight shelled Nautoloid
    This appears to be some sort of poorly preserved straight shelled nautoloid.

    Formation:
  • Hamilton Group: Wanakah Member (Ludlowville Formation) or Windom Member (Moscow Formation)
    Age:
  • Middle Devonian, ~387 - 378 m.y.
    Location:
  • Hamburg, Erie Co., NY
    Size:



  • Bryozoan

    Hederella sp.
    This is a an interesting image of Hederella sp. growing all over a piece of horn coral (Stereolasma rectum).

    Formation:
  • Hamilton Group: Wanakah Shale Member (Ludlowville Formation)
    Age:
  • Middle Devonian, ~387 - 378 m.y.
    Location:
  • Hamburg, Erie Co., NY
    Size:

  • Rhombopora sp.
    NO IMAGE YET

    This is a close-up of the Bryozoan on the matrix with the pyritized shell and the enrolled Phacops rana.

    Formation:
  • Hamilton Group: Wanakah Shale Member (Ludlowville Formation)
    Age:
  • Middle Devonian, ~387 - 378 m.y.
    Location:
  • Hamburg, Erie Co., NY
    Size:



  • Unidentified stuff
    If you konw what any of this stuff is, please let me know, thanks!


    Some kind of Nautoloid?
    Due to the poor preservation, I have no clue what this is.

    The diagonal "striations" along the sides are also throwing me off (although they are probably the key to getting this thing identified). The striations can be seen better in the zoomed in image. Although, not clearly visible, these "striations" occur on both sides of the specimen, and appear to run its length.

    Formation:
  • Hamilton Group: Wanakah Shale Member (Ludlowville Formation)
    Age:
  • Middle Devonian, ~387 - 378 m.y.
    Location:
  • Hamburg, Erie Co., NY
    Size: