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Fossil Cretaceous Identification Guide for the the Big Brook Area of New Jersey


Thumbnails of Types of Cretaceous Fossils


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

Dinosaur remains that floated offshore during the cretaceous are sometimes found with the marine fossils. They are scarce finds. The most common dinosaur material found are Hadrosaur teeth. They are very small and are often very worn. Some examples of Dinosaur material are shown below.



Hadrosaur Teeth
Duck Billed Dinosaur

These are Hadrosaur teeth, the more common Dinosaur find in the brooks of New Jersey. All dinosaure material is scarce.




Dryptosaurus
Tyrannosauroid Dinosaur

This is a Dryptosaurus dinosaur toe bone found in one of the brooks in New Jersey by Andrew Darling. This is a rare find as very few Dryptosaurs fossils have been found. It has been donated to the Rowan University.
If dinosaur bone is found, I recommend donating it to the NJ State Museum or to Rowan University so it can be catalogued and studied, as dinosaur material is scarce in the brooks.




Mosasaur
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 .
Identification:Mosasaur teeth superficially look like crocodile teeth. However, mosasaur teeth have a distinct cutting edge (seen in the top center view). The cutting edge is the easiest way to distinguish mosasaur teeth from crocodile teeth.



Mosasaur conodon tooth. This tooth is chipped up, but most of the enamel is in great condition. Another few days in the brook, and it probably would have split apart.




Sharks

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



Archaeolamna kopingensis (Davis 1890)
Extinct Mackerel Shark


The above is an example of a Archaeolamna kopingensis lateral tooth




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.


The above is an example of a Cretolamna appendiculata lateral tooth




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.

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).


The above is an example of an anterior Goblin Shark tooth.
It still has some iron attached to it.




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).




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




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.




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






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.




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






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).


This is a stream worn specimen of an angel shark tooth




These are different views of this tiny angel shark tooth.

Squatina hassei Vertebra
Angel 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.


The above are examples of sawfish teeth found at Big Brook




Brachyrhizodus wichitaensis (Roemer)
Myliobatoid Ray


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.



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 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.



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!


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




Fish Vertebra

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


Fish Vertebra from the Big Brook Area



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.


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.




Here are more examples of Belemnite fossils from Big Brook



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 are usually an inch or less in size.



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

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


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




Recommended Books for New Jersey Fossils and Paleontology:


When Dinosaurs Roamed New Jersey
by William B. Gallagher, 1997

Thisis a great book to learn about New Jersey Paleontology and the geologic history of New Jersey. It is very accurate, as the author is a scholar in the field of paleontology. There is even a section that describes fossil hunting sites in New Jersey.




** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **

Fossil Shark Teeth of the World
by Joe Cocke, 2002

A great book for identifying all those teeth. This book is laid out "as simple as possible." It's ease of use and small size makes it great to carry during collecting trips. This book shows teeth from around the globe, but all the New Jersey teeth can be found in it.



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