Celebrating the Richness of Paleontology through Fossil Hunting

Fossil Collectin Trip: Ambridge, PA - Fossil Ferns near Pittsburgh, PA- Carboniferous

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Ambridge Fossil Collecting Page - Plant Fossils

Near Ambridge, PA
Carboniferous Shark tooth hunt

Carboniferous - Pennsylvanian (~300 m.y.o.)

Spring and Fall 2010

Collecting fossil ferns at Ambridge
The Ambridge road cut is eroding. Chunks of the Mahoning formation are creating new tullus slopes.

Fossil Carboniferous Plant and Shark Tooth Hunt

It’s been years since the roadwork finished on Rt. 65 across from the Ambridge Woodlawn Bridge. One of the goals of this roadwork was to make the large road cut across from the bridge safer so that debris would not fall. They scraped the massive road cut clean, so that not even a grain of sand would fall from it. Then they put up fencing material all over the cut to keep boulders at bay. The project was a success... However, by doing this, they temporarily ended a nice fossil collecting site. Fortunately for the avid fossil hunter, erosion always wins, and today, large chunks of fossil bearing rock are falling from the road cut (luckily quite a safe distance from the road). It’s time to fossil hunt!

In June of 2010, Beblebrox, an acquaintance from the net, invited me to Ambridge for a fossil hunt. He also knew of a road cut with some Ames Limestone exposed (For me, this means Pennsylvanian shark teeth). Our hunt was a nice one. He took me to the Ambridge road cut, for which I haven’t been to in years, and a few other road cuts in the area, including the one with the Ames Limestone exposed.

The hunt was nice! It was good to collect somewhat close to home, and to collect with other fossil hunters. We all found plants from the Mahoning formation, invertebrates from the Brush Creek formation, and I even ended up with one gnarled shark tooth from the Ames limestone... my first ever!

After that nice hunt, months went by, the summer came and went, and winter approached (oh, and no website updates occurred). Before the winter snows set in, I wanted to scout out more areas for the Ames limestone. So, I invited a friend who seemed interested in fossils on a scouting trip with me. We drove to various road cuts looking for the Ames limestone. After not finding any promising areas, I decided to end the trip by taking him to the Ambridge road cuts to collect some plant fossils. He enjoyed splitting the shale and finding the fossil plants, and is now eager to go on another hunting trip!

Chunks from the road cut fall and crash into pieces, often exposing the fossil plants inside.
Chunks from the road cut fall and crash into pieces, often exposing the fossil plants inside. These fragile fossils quickly erode away. However, new boulders are always falling.

Here, everyone is fossil collecting in an outcropping of the Brush Creek Marine Zone.
Here, everyone is fossil collecting in an outcropping of the Brush Creek Marine Zone.

straight shelled nautilus
This is a straight shelled nautilus in the Brush Creek limestone.

ames limestone
This picture shows an outcropping of Ames limestone. It's the large blocks sticking out toward the top of the hill. Notice the pitttsburgh "Red bed" directly under the limestone.

Pennsylvanian fossil shark tooth
This is the shark tooth as found in the chunk of Ames limestone.

Sample fossils from the trips:

pennsylvanian shark tooth
Here is the shark tooth found. It's Glikmanius occidentalis. It use to be called Cladodus occidentalis. The right side cusps are broken off.

pennsylvanian shark tooth
Zoomed in view of this VERY old shark tooth.

Here is a Calimites stem fragment

This is another Calimites stem fragment. It was left as found... To lay and erode away with the rest of the fossils.

This is a little Neropteris leaf, nicely displayed on a small plate

This is a leaflet from a Calimites tree, it's called annularia (it's to the lower left on the plate).

Here is a whole frond of a Pecopteris fern. Unfortunately, it was a bit mangled, and the rock was cracked up, so we left it there

On this plant plate is a little sphenopteris type plant (it's to the lower left)

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