Fossil Hunting at Red Hill: A Devonian Fossil Site:
The Red Hill fossil site is nestled in an Appalachian valley in Central Pennsylvania.
Fossil Hunting for Devonian fish and early tetrapods at the Red Hill Fossil Site
I finally made it to the roadcut in central PA called Red Hill. Red Hill contains a clear
slice through the Devonian Period. It contains a large variety of fish, plants, and even
contains two of North Americas oldest tetrapods. This makes it an ideal site for
paleontologists studying the Devonian time period and for studying tetrapod evolution, when vertebrates
were first coming onto the land.
This was a joint trip with three clubs, the MGS, the CMMFC club, and the Rochester Acdamy of Science - Fossil Section.
A little over a dozen people showed up for the trip. We hunted for half the day, then took a lunch break and checked out the red hill prep center nearby, then went back to the road cut to continue collecting.
The collecting here is very time consuming, and frustrating! The fossils are very fragile and difficult to extract without breaking them. Lots of hardener and glue is needed for this site! By the end of the day, we had a few fish teeth, shark teeth, a fish spine, and some placeoderm armor fragments. I was satisfied. However, next time I go, I’m going to bring a heavier hammer and hardener to help me extract the fossils.
If you are interested the transition from fins to feet, and Tetrapod Evolution, I strongly suggest:
Gaining Ground, Second Edition: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods (Life of the Past)
by David R. Schwimmer, 2002
This book, full of comparative illustrations and photos, tells the story of tetrapod evolution, how it started 370 some million years ago, and goes through the different interpretations of the various early tetrapods. It is a must for anyone interested in Tetrapod evolution. If you have ever fossil collected at Red Hill, this book puts everything in perspective.
Below are pictures and fossils from the Devonian Red Hill fossil hunt:
Amy is tucked nicely away in a little corner while searching. She's a little fearful of the 25 foot drop if she slips!
This is our 1st find of the day. Amy spotted a fish tooth snugly nestled into the rock. It is probably a Hyneria lindae, a very large lobe-fin fish.
If you look closely, the largest white blurry speck near the center of the pic is a VERY old shark tooth! That's as big as they got! The shark is an Ageleodus pectinatus. Not much is known about this early shark, but they think it shed its teeth like modern sharks do.
Here are the 2 Hyneria lindae teeth we found. They belong to a large lobe-fin fish. Lobe-fin fish are the closely related to tetrapods.
Here's one of the larger Ageleodus pectinatus shark teeth we found, still pretty small; its about 6 mm wide (very large for this shark).
Here's another Ageleodus pectinatus shark tooth. This one is a whoppong 2 mm wide!