"Celebrating the Richness of Paleontology through Fossil Hunting"

fossilera logo
Western New York Fossil Hunting


Devonian Fossil Hunting

The latest weather for hamburg

Devonian Fossils of Western New York

18-Mile Creek and the Penn Dixie Area
~385 Million Years Old
Middle Devonian, Givetian
Hamilton Group, Ludlowville and Moscow Formations
This is your place to travel to find Devonian Fossil Trilobites and Brachipods

Walking the Creeks of Western New York in search of Fossils.

Fossil Hunting in an ancient Devonian coral reef. Fossils from Western New York are all from the Devonian. It all was once a shallow sea, teaming with trilobites.

The famous trilobite layers of the Hamilton Group are full of trilobites. The image shows some of the enrolled trilobites we were finding. Enrolled ones are far more common than prone trilobites. Also, you may notice many are still covered in matrix. They will stay covered until we get them home, where we can properly clean them with an air abrasive unit.

About the Devonian Fossils of Western New York: Paleontology of Western New York

During this time period, in the Middle Devonian, a mountain building phase called teh Acadian Oregony was beginning. THe Acadian Oregony started when a landmass called Avalon collided into, what is today, eastern North America. This collision was the first step in the assembly of the supercontinent Laurussia. The collision of Avalon created a large mountain range called the Acadian Mountains along eastern North America.

Sediment filled rivers running down the Acadian mountains flowed into the the Catskill basin just west of and running parallel to the Acadian mountains. This basin was flooded by the Kaskaskia Sea. It covered New York west of the Hudson river, as well as many other states down to, what is today, the gulf of Mexico.

Sediments from the Acadian mountains accumulated in the Kaskaskia Sea throughout the Middle and Late Devonian. These deposits formed the rock layers seen today in western New York. The most fossiliferous shale and mudstone in this area tends to be the Wanakah shale of the Ludlowville formation and the Windom Shale of the Moscow formation.

Also during the Middle to Late Devonian period, the global climate was much warmer than it is today and New York was nearly on the equator. As a result, the warm shallow Kaskaskia Sea was the home to a flourishing coral reef. This tropical reef was home to many invertebrates, such as brachiopods, pelecypods, crinoids, cephalopods, red algae, and gastropods. The corals and algaes contributed to the reef building of the time period. Trilobites such as Eldredgeops (Phacops) were very common.

In addition, the Devonian period is known by some as the "Age of Fishes." Armored fish, Placoderms, and primitive sharks lived in the Devonian period. In fact, most modern fish can trace their ancestry back to that time period. By the end of the period, fish had evolved jaws and became the major predators of their time. Unfortunately these realy fish were mainly cartilagenous, so they did not fossilize often. However, the harder dermal armor, scales, and teeth did fossilize. These preserved parts parts became the major links to understanding fish of that time period.

It's important to note this area of 18-mile creek and nearby creeks is so large it is divided into distinct sections, with each housing differences in rock formations and fossil specimens. Found at the mouth of Eighteen Mile Creek is the Lake Eerie Cliffs, which contain the same exposures as Eighteen Mile Creek and the Penn Dixie Quarry. For clarification, it is this area and several of the other sections which contain fossils of trilobites, gastropods, corals, crinoids, brachiopods, pelecypods, and cephalopods. This is where we have mainly collected.

Cross section of the devonian fossil exposures of 18-mile creek, New York.
This diagram is a cross-section of the cliffs, which shows the formations, and different members in the formations. Also, the letters correspond to different faunal assemblages.

View a Sample of Devonian Fossils Found in Western NY, Including Fossil Trilobites:

Devonian Fossil Identification for Western New York


1. Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center

Location: 4050 North St, Blasdell, NY 14219

This is a very family friendly place to collect at. However, don't be fooled, you can bring tools and dig into the famous trilobite layers and find prized specimens.

This is a "Fossil Park" that is situated in Hamburg, NY, near the 18-mile creek area.
The Penn Dixie Education Center is situated on an old quarry that has exposed the same formations as found at 18-mile creek (however the trilobite layer is found by digging 1-2 feet below the surface). The Penn Dixie Site is open for the public to collect fossils for a small fee. They also have a few "Family Fossil Fun Days" and "Junior Paleontologist Days" during the summer.
This is by far the best place to go to find Western NY fossils

Please visit their website for directions and dates and hours in which they are open: Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center .

2. 18 Mile Creek and Lake Erie Cliffs

Bridge over 18-Mile Creek, NY

18-Mile Creek is about ten miles south of Buffalo, lying between the Towns of Evans (to the southwest) and Hamburg (to the northeast). More specifically, it is found off of Old Lake Shore Road (this road crosses the creek near its mouth), but be warned there is no parking on the road. There is however a state owned area used for a fishermen parking lot almost under the bridge over 18-mile creek.

Once at the creek, you'll notice the expanse of cliffs containing the Devonian exposures.

Please DO NOT dig in the cliffs, as the cliffs are private property. There are plenty of natural rock falls to look through.

If you hike up the creek a bit to the mouth, you will see the lake Erie cliffs. These cliffs and the land are now POSTED, do not tresspass.

3. Almost any creek near Lake Erie south of Buffalo

The Devonian exposures of Western New York are expansive. There are many other spots where you can find fossils. Many geologic publications (including the ones in the recommended section below) feature other sites. Just remember due to development, many areas are now private property. Stay in the creek and DO NOT DIG in the cliffs. Get permission first if you plan to go on private property.

Recommended Equipment for splitting shale and mudstones

INCLY Amazon Store: Rock Hounding Gear

INCLY provides budget-friendly rock hounding gear, ranging from the widely favored (4.6/5 stars) 15-piece Geology kit featured in the image to compact 4 and 5-piece sets. These tools are ideal for fossil and mineral collecting, particularly in harder matrixes and shale.

Rock Pick - 28 oz Geological Hammer with Pointed Tip & Shock Reduction Grip - 11.4 Inch

I bought this as a replacement rock hammer. The color makes it stick out so you don't lose it in the field! It's a little heavier than your average hammer, making it easier to break rock. It also has a nice grip and for under $20, it's a great deal!

TOOLEAGUE Heavy Duty Masonry Chisel,8 inches Brick Chisel with Hand Protection(1Pc)
Albert B Dickas, 2018

I learned years ago to only use chisels with hand guards! The bright color makes also makes it hard to lose when you set it down. This is a nice wide chisel ideal for splitting thin shale.

• Protective Eye Glasses: It's time to blow the dust off those old chemistry goggles!

• Newspaper/Old Towels: The fossils are very fragile, and can break on your way home. So, pack them up carefully.

• Bug Spray: There are lots of ticks and mosquitos in the streams!

• DO NOT DIG IN THE CLIFFS: The fossils on this page were found in the talus (rubble) that has already fallen at the base of the cliffs. If you are at a location where cliffs are present, remember it's someone's private property. Fossil hunt in the fallen debris.
Penn Dixie park is by far the best and easiest place to go to find these fossils.

SE 8399-RH-ROCK 11-Inch Rock Hammer, 20 Oz.
This is the best selling rock hammer. It has a zillion really good reviews and is less expensive than most rock hammers.

Recommended Books for Western New York Fossils:

Almost all of the good Western New York Paleontology books are out of print and difficult to find. Here are some Trilobite books and fossil hunting book recommendations:

Recommended Trilobite and Fossil Hunting Books:

The Trilobite Collector's Guide
Andy Secher, 2024

This book by Andy Secher, a leading trilobite collector, offers a captivating journey into the world of these ancient arthropods. With over 400 stunning photos, entertaining top-ten lists, invaluable collecting tips, and ways to spot a fake trilobite, it's a must-have for fossil enthusiasts!

Trilobites: Common Trilobites of North America (A NatureGuide Book)
Jasper Burns, 2000

An excellent guide for identifying North American trilobites, featuring meticulous line drawings and concise information on classification, geologic range, and distribution. Ideal for enthusiasts seeking detailed insights and accurate identification of these ancient arthropods.

101 American Fossil Sites You've Gotta See
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.
Plus, my fossil photos are peppered throughout this book!

Devonian Biostratigraphy of New York

International Union of Geological Sciences
Subcommission on Devonian Stratigraphy, (Part 1 and Part 2)
Editors: Willian A. Oliver, Jr. and Gilber Klapper
July 1981, Washington D.C.

This is an incredibly informative book, however it is somewhat difficult to find. Your best bet is a University Library.

Trilobites for Sale:

Trilobites from Fossilera

About the Author

Contact Us

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

Visit us on Social Media:

Enjoy this website?
Consider a Paypal / Credit Card donation of any size to help with site maintenance and web hosting fees:

Privacy Policy and Legal Disclaimer

Back to the TOP of page

© 2000 - 2024 : All rights reserved


fossilguy logo 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