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Fossil Hunting at the Red Hill Devonian Fossil Site


Red Hill Fossil Site: Devonian Fish and Tetrapods - Pennsylvania

Fossil Hunting at the Red Hill Devonian Fossil Site; Devonian Fish

Fossil Hunting for Devonian fish at Red Hill.

Fossil Hunting for Devonian fish at Red Hill.

Red Hill Fossil Trip - Hyneria Teeth and Scales

Red Hill is an interesting site. It contains remains of one of the Earth's earliest tetrapods, one of the first true forests, and even one of the first forest fires. The main reason why many people come to red hill is to find early Devonian fish. Namely lobe finned fish, placaderms, and primitive sharks. As stated in all my trip reports pertaining to this site, the fossils are fragmentary in nature and very difficult to extract.

The DVPS led this trip. They came prepared with lots of heavy hammers, chisels, and shovels. The trick to this site is to create/clear off a shelf, and then to neatly split slabs off the shelf. Many of the DVPS crew are pros at doing this. Within minutes they will all be lined up clearing off a large shelf along a productive layer for extraction.

I, on the other hand, am not a pro. I spent most of my time looking for an area that could be turned into a shelf. Then I spent many futile attempts at trying to clear off a shelf. Finally when I cleared one off, it was the wrong layer. Needless to say, I did not get a large shelf cleared off where I could just pull up fossil laden slabs. By the end of the trip (when my arm was too sore to swing a sledge anymore) I had found a few Hyneria fish teeth, and some fragmented placaderm armor. On a sad note, one of the larger Hyneria teeth I found blew into dust in the wind before I could reach for glue to stabilize it. Al in all, I'm not disappointed, I have come to expect hardships from this site. However, it is such an interesting site, I will for sure return again to try my luck.

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 Jennifer A. Clack

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:

Some of the DVPS crew are clearing off a shelf for extraction.

On the far right is Doug Rowe, the Paleontologist from the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences who oversees Red Hill.

Here is one of the finds, a Hyneria Lindae tooth.

These are two Hyneria Lindae teeth.

This is another Hyneria Lindae tooth in the matrix.

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