• "Celebrating the Richness of Paleontology through Fossil Hunting"

Fossil Identification Devonian of Ohio

Carboniferous Marine Fossil Identification - Western PA sites

Crboniferous Reef Fossils
The Ambridge site and many nearby sites expose Marine transgression and regression zones. The regression zones include remains of Carboniferous Coal Forests, while the transgression zones house the remains of Carboniferous marine fossils. Marine fossils from this area include Gastropods, Nautaloids, Corals, and Fish (although fish material is rare).

Below you can find a sample of fossils found at this location. Click on a thumbnail to go to the section about that animal. Each section includes descriptions and fossil examples.




Invertebrates



Gastropods


Description

Gastropods, or Snails as we call them, were already very diverse in the Carboniferous. They are plentiful and can be found in almost all of the marine zones, including the Brush Creek. There are over 30 genera of snails that can be found. Most of them are small, under 2 inches. Only the fossilized shells of Gastropods are found.


Similar Fossils

Gastropods are not easily confused with other types of fossils, as their distinct snail shape makes them unmistakable. The problem with identification arises because there are at least 30 genera that can be found. Many look very similar to one another.



Sample Fossils from Ambridge Shown Below: Gastropods




Anthracopupa Gastropod


This might be an Anthracopupa sp. Gastropod. It's hard to tell because, if you look at the top of the shell, it's crushed. I'm not sure if it was bitten, or started to rot before it fossilized. From the Brush Creek Marine Zone.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Shale
Butler Co., PA



Shansiella Gastropod


These are some Shansiella Gastropods. They are some of the more common ones found in the Brush Creek Shale.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Shale
Butler Co., PA



Worthenia Gastropod


This is a Worthenia sp. Gastropod. I think thesea are the most beautiful ones found in the Brush Creek.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Shale
Butler Co., PA



Microptychia Gastropod


These are possibly Microptychia Gastropods. They are from the Brush Creek Shale.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Shale
Butler Co., PA



Pharkidonotus Gastropod


These Pharkidonotus fossil gastropods have a high ridge running down the crest. They are from the Brush Creek Shale.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Shale
Butler Co., PA



Amphiscapha Gastropod


These little fossils are Amphiscapha sp. Gastropods. They are from the Brush Creek Shale.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Shale
Butler Co., PA




Pelecypods


Description

Pelecypods are a mullusk that has two shells that are hinged together. We usually call them Clams.


Similar Fossils

There are dozens of pelecypods found in the Pennsylvanian rock units around pittsburgh. Many look very similar in shape and size.



Sample Fossils from Ambridge Shown Below: Pelecypods




Nuculopsis / Clinopistha sp.


These are either Nuculopsis, or Clinopistha sp. or a mix of both. There are many similar genera. These two genera are usually very inflated, as seen in the side view. From the Brush Creek Marine Zone.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Shale
Butler Co., PA




Cephalopods:


Description

A cephalopod is a type of predatory mollusk. Cephalopods today include squid and octopus. In the past there was also a vast array of coiled and straight shelled cephalopods.




Sample Fossils from Ambridge Shown Below: Cephalopods




Orthoceras - Straight Shelled Nautiloid

These odd Nautiloids were cephalopods with an external shell. Today, the only living group is the Nautilus. In the past, there were many different genera, some with simple shells, and others with complex coiled and ornate shells.

The Nautiloids found in the Brush Creek are often small, straight shelled, and simple looking. In other layers thay are much larger.


Straight Shelled Nautiloid Illustration By: Nobu TamuraC.C.3.0



Michelinoceras sp.
These are the shells of the nautiloid. Notice the many chambers. They are often foudn broken and easily fragment along these chambers.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Shale
Butler Co., PA



This is another straight shelled nautiloid. It's hard to see, but runs near the top of the rock.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Zone
Butler Co., PA



This is a larger straight shelled nautiloid. It's poorly preserved as the white triangle looking thing. It's about 5 inches across.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Zone
Butler Co., PA






Coral


Description

Solitary Roguse Corals Fossil "Horn corals" are a type of Roguse Coral. They do not live in colonies and are instead solitary. All Roguse corals are now extinct. Common ones found in the Brush creek are called Heterophrentis sp.




Sample Fossils from Ambridge Shown Below: Coral




Heterophrentis sp.: Horn Coral


Heterophrentis sp. - Solitary Horn Corals
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Marine Zone
Butler Co., PA




Fish / Sharks


Description

Fragmentary fish fossils are sometimes found in the marine zones. They tend to be more common in the limestones. They are usually small and easily overlooked.




Sample Fossils from Ambridge Shown Below: Sharks




Glikmanius Shark Tooth


Glikmanius Shark Tooth
The Brush Creek zone is suppose to have shark teeth. I have not found any as yet. This tooth came from a layer a few hundred feet above teh Brush Creek called the Ames Limestone. The Ames Limestone is one of the most fossiliferous limestones in the Pittsburgh Area. It contains mainly small shells and crinoid fragments.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Ames Limestone
Allegheny Co., PA



Glikmanius Shark Tooth
This is the shark tooth once extracted from the limestone. The two cusps were already eroded off when found.
Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Ames Limestone
Allegheny Co., PA




Recommended Books for the Pittsburgh Roadcuts:




101 American Fossil Sites You've Gotta See
By Albert B Dickas, 2018
This is a great updated fossil sites book with at least one fossil site in each state. Each site is broken into 2 pages. One has detailed information, such as directions, GPS coordinates, formation information, etc... The other is dedicated to images of the site and the fossils found there. It also gives information on fossil 'viewing' sites such as dinosaur trackways, museums, and active excavations.

This book is great for both beginning and expert fossil collectors. Beginners will find fossil hunting much easier with this book and experts will find it to be a great reference.
Plus, my fossil photos are peppered throughout this book!

Here is a link to my Review of the book.




Fossil Collecting in the Mid-Atlantic States: With Localities, Collecting Tips, and Illustrations of More than 450 Fossil Specimens
by Jasper Burns, 1991

This book is a classic! Although some of the fossil hunting site listed in this book no longer exist, it shows what fossils can be found in the same area. What makes this book a classic is Jasper Burns incredible sketches of the locations and the fossils found at each location. It is a very descriptive and useful guide book. Even after all these years, I still find myself referencing it!

Included are numerous Carboniferous plant sites in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.



Popular Content

About the Author

Contact Us

To ask Questions about Paleontology, Fossil Identification, Image Use, or anything else, email us.

Fossilguy.com is very active on Facebook, you can also message us there!

We don't buy or sell fossils, so please don't email us asking about the value of a fossil or fossil purchases.


If you enjoy this site, Like our Website and Facebook Page:




Privacy Policy / Disclaimer

Click here for the Privacy Policy and Legal Disclaimer


Back to the TOP of page

© 2000 - 2018 FOSSILGUY.COM : All rights reserved

Fossilguy.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com