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Carboniferous Marine Fossil Identification for Western PA




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Recommended Fossil Plant Identification Books:



A Guide to Pennsylvanian (Carboniferous) Age Plant Fossils of Southwest Virginia

By Thomas F. McLoughlin, 2013
280 Fossil Plant Illustrations





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  • Marine Fossil Identification - Carboniferous of Western PA - Conemaugh Group


    Location:
    Fossil Marine Material in Road Cuts near Pittsburgh and Ambridge, Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvanian Marine Transgression Zone
    ~ 299 - 300 Million Years Old
    Upper Pennsylvanian, Westphalian D to Stephanian A
    Conemaugh Group: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Layer

    Back to Main Ambridge Fossils Page


    Horn coral
in the Brush Creek layer near Ambridge, PA

    Brush Creek Marine Fossils from Ambridge, PA





    Carboniferous Marine Fossil Identification - Western PA sites

    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.






    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 a Gastropods from near Pittsburgh.

    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


    Fossil Shansiella Gastropods from near Pittsburgh.

    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


    Fossil Worthenia Gastropods from near Pittsburgh.

    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 Gastropods from near Pittsburgh.

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


    Pharkidonotus fossil Gastropods from near Pittsburgh.

    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 Marine Zone
    Butler Co., PA


    Amphiscapha Gastropods from near Pittsburgh.

    These little fossils are Amphiscapha sp. Gastropods. They are from the Brush Creek Shale.
    Carboniferous: Pennsylvanian: Glenshaw Formation: Brush Creek Marine Zone
    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

    
Pelecypod Fossils from near Pittsburgh.

    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:
    Straight Shelled Nautiloids


    Orthoceras - Straight Shelled Nautiloid

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

    Description

    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.




    Sample Fossils from Ambridge Shown Below: Nautiloid

    Fossil Michelinoceras sp. Straight Shelled Nautiloid from near Pittsburgh.

    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



    Fossil Straight Shelled Nautiloid from near Pittsburgh.

    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



    Fossil Straight Shelled Nautiloid from near Pittsburgh.

    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: Corals

    Fossil Horn Corals from near Pittsburgh.

    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 Pittsburgh Shown Below: Sharks

    Fossil Shark Tooth from near Pittsburgh.

    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



    Fossil Shark Tooth from near Pittsburgh.

    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