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Fossil Identification for the Big Brook area of New Jersey




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Cretaceous Fossil Identificaion for the the Big Brook Area of New Jersey



Click on the type of fossil, or scroll down to browse:





Mosasaur Fossils

Great Marine Reptile
The Mosasaur was a great marine reptile that thrived during the Cretaceous. It was a top predator of the seas. The most common species of Mosasaur found in Monmouth County is M. conodon, a medium sized Mosasaur.
To learn all about these Great Marine Reptiles of the Cretaceous, go to the Mosasaur Gallery.



Mosasaur Fossil Found at Big Brook

Here is a Mosasaur conodon tooth as found in the creek

Mosasaur Tooth

Mosasaur condon tooth.
This is my first mosasaur from the Big Brook area. It is chipped up, but most of the enamel is in great condition. Another storm or two in the brook and it probably would have split apart.

Identification:Notice the cutting edge in the top center view. The cutting edge is the easiest way to distinguish mosasaur teeth from crocodile teeth.





Shark Fossils

Shark Teeth
Shark teeth are by far the most common cretaceous fossils found in the Big Brook area. Searching the gravel bars will produce a few teeth.
To learn all about Sharks, go to the Shark Gallery.



Archaeolamna kopingensis (Davis 1890)
Extinct Mackerel Shark
fossil cretaceous shark tooth

The above is an example of a Archaeolamna kopingensis lateral tooth

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~.94" (~ 24mm)


fossil cretaceous shark teeth

These are more examples of Archaeolamna kopingensis fossil shark teeth





Cretolamna appendiculata (Agassiz 1843)
Extinct Mackerel Shark

Cretolamna appendiculata looks like a small Cretaceous version of the Paleocene and Eocene Otodus obliquus. It is thought by many that Otodus obliquus evolved from Cretolamna appendiculata sometime in the late cretaceous.

This species became extinct sometime in the Paleocene, while the genus became extinct in the Eocene.

fossil cretolamna shark tooth - new Jersey

The above is an example of a Cretolamna appendiculata lateral tooth

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~.75" (~ 19mm)


fossil cretaceous cretolamna shark teeth

These are more examples of Cretolamna appendiculata fossil shark teeth. The largest is 1" (25mm).





Scapanorhynchus texanus (Romer 1852)
Extinct Goblin Shark

Having a flat snout that protrudes from the head, Goblin sharks look odd. This species became extinct near the end of the Cretaceous, while the genus lasted into the Eocene. A different genus of goblin shark still lives today, the deepwater Mitsukurina genus, although it is rarely seen.

Goblin teeth are probably the most common cretaceous teeth found in the Big Brook area of NJ.
They can also reach sizes of over 2".

To learn more about Goblin Sharks, and to see pictures of the actual sharks, go to the Goblin Shark Page

fossil goblin shark tooth - anterior

The above is an example of an anterior Goblin Shark tooth.
It still has some iron attached to it.
Identification: A defining characteristics of goblin anterior teeth are their striations on the lingual side of the tooth that continue onto the root (in unworn specimens).


Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~1.75" (~ 44mm)


fossil Goblin Shark Teeth from New Jersey

The above tooth is a an example of a lateral tooth.

Notice how different the lateral teeth are compared to anterior teeth. Lateral teeth are significantly wider and flatter, they often have a cusplet or two, and the striations have all but vanished.

This tooth is 1.12" (28 mm).


fossil Shark Teeth - Goblin Sharks

Here are several examples of anterior and lateral teeth





Squalicorax
Extinct Crow Sharks

This well known group of extinct sharks have distinctive teeth. The genus was only present in the Cretaceous. Out of the numerous species of squalicorax, two are represented from the Cretaceous of New Jersey:
Squalicorax kaupi and Squalicorax pristodontus.


Squalicorax kaupi (Agassiz, 1843)
Extinct Crow Shark

Identification: This species is smaller than S. pristodontus, and has a distinct notch on the distil shoulder of their crowns.

fossil crow shark teeth

This is a profile, lingual, and labial view of a S. kaupi tooth

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~.6" (~15mm)


fossil crow shark teeth from New Jersey

Above are more examples of S. kaupi Crow shark teeth.
The largest is 0.6" (15mm).




Squalicorax pristodontus (Agassiz, 1843)
Extinct Crow Shark

Identification: This species have larger teeth than S. kaupi, and does not have a distinct notch on the distil shoulder of their crowns.

fossil crow shark teeth

This is a profile, lingual, and labial view of a S. pristodontus tooth

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~.95" (~24mm)


fossil crow shark teeth from New Jersey

Above are more examples of S. pristodontus Crow shark teeth.
The largest is ~.95" (~24mm).





Squatina hassei (Leriche 1929)
Extinct Angel Shark

Squantina hassei is the Cretaceous species of the Angel shark.
Like all species of Angel Shark, the teeth are tiny. They are often less than 1/4" (6 mm).


Angel Shark shark tooth

This is a stream worn specimen

Cretaceous Angel Shark shark tooth

These are different views of this tiny angel shark tooth.

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~ 0.16" (~ 4mm)


Squatina hassei Vertebra (Angel Shark Vertebra)
Cretaceous Angel Shark shark vertebra

This is a vertebra from a squantina hassei. Angel shark vertebra, for some reason, always seem to have either the cartilage or the prismatic cartilage marks all over them (those are the little hexagon dots all over the vert in the image).






Skate and Ray Fossils

Ray fossils are often found in the New Jersey area. The most interesting ray fossils found are from Sawfish.


Ischyrhiza mira (Leidy)
Sawfish

Sawfish rostral teeth (the teeth that stick out of the sawfishes' snout) can be found on occasion at Big Brook.
These are three teeth that were found within a couple inches of each other on a gravel bar.

Sawfish Fossil Found at Big Brook

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~1" (25mm)




Brachyrhizodus wichitaensis (Roemer)
Myliobatoid Ray
Ray Fossil Found at Big Brook

Isolated teeth from this ray are fairly common at the site. This image shows 3 views of a tooth that attached to the side of the ray plate.
Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Big Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~ 3/8" (9mm)







Bony Fish Fossils

Fish fossils are fairly common. Usually the fossils found are pieces of fish vertebra


Anomaeodus phasolus (Hay)
Drumfish

Drumfish still exist today. They are a game fish and are occasionally found on restaurant menus. Drumfish can grow quite large, reaching weights of up to 90 pounds (40 kg). They have round, crushing teeth that can crush oysters and shellfish.

Drumfish Fossil teeth at Big Brook

Drumfish have 2 distinct types of teeth. They have a battery of flat crushing teeth that enabled them to feed on crustaceans and mollusks. Two of these are shown in the center of the image. They also have oral teeth that look like very thin transparent claws. These are shown on both sides of the image.

Drumfish crushing teeth can easily be confused with some of the worn gravel in the area. However, the bottoms of the crushing teeth are hollowed out. The more round looking teet are often overlooked due to the fact that they look like small pebbles.

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: Crushing teeth can grow to around ~1" (2.5cm),
while the oral teeth are much smaller, with a max size of ~.4" (1cm).




Enchodus petrosus (Cope)
Saber-Tooth Salmon

You've heard of Saber-Tooth Lions of the Pliocene, but have you ever heard of a Saber-Tooth Salmon from the Cretaceous?

These large monster salmon are a predecessor to modern salmon. However, they had large saber-like teeth that could reach over 3" long. Enchodus became extinct in the Paleocene, which is good... I would hate to go fishing and catch one of those!

Enchodus Tooth Fossil Found at Big Brook

These are two sabers from the salmon. The larger one is a bit beat up.

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~3/4" (19mm) & 1.5" (38mm)




Fish Vertebra

Fish vertebra can be common in the sediments. They are usually smaller than this example.

Fossil Fish Vertebra - New Jersey

Formation: Wenonah?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: ~7/8" (22mm)







Invertebrate Fossils

Invertebrate fossils are commonly found. These include Belemnites and other types of Cephalopods.


Belemnitella americana
Straight Shelled Cephalopod

A Belemnite is a type of extinct cephalopod. It looked kind of like a squid. The amber colored belemnite fossils found here are the internal shells of these squid like animals.

Belemnitella americana Fossils from Big Brook, New Jersey

Belemnites are scarce if collecting at Ramanessin Brook and some other areas. However, at certain spots along Big Brook, they can be found in number.

Belemnite Fossils from Big Brook, New Jersey

Formation: Navensink?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: Usually 2 - 4" (~50 - 100 mm) - the large one is slightly over 4" (100mm)




Ammonite Fragments

Ammonite fragments are a somewhat common find. They are easy to identify due to the suture patterns.
Whole ammonites are very difficult to find.

Ammonite Fragments at Big Brook

Formation:?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: Fragments are usually less than 1" (2.5 mm)




Protocallianassa mortoni (Pilsbry, 1901)
Ghost Shimp Burrows - Trave Fossils

Some layers in the Navensink trench are chalk full of fossilized borrows from invertebrates..

Ghost Shrimp Burrows - New Jersey

The long tube like structures are fossilized invertebrate borrows. They are probably from Ghost shrimp. Their borrows filled in with iron rich sediments.

Formation: Navensink?
Age: Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian; ~67-74 m.y
Location: Ramanessin Brook, Monmouth Co., NJ
Size: Around 6 to 12 inches long (150 - 300 mm)