Family Fossiling Fun

By Derek Stoner, Education Program Assistant

Bullet-shaped Belemnites, a fossil squid, along with an oyster-like Exogyra.
Bullet-shaped Belemnites, a fossil squid, along with an oyster-like Exogyra.

The Delaware of 65 million years ago looked vastly different.  Instead of forests of trees, there were forests of corals and other sea plants.  The entire Delmarva Peninsula was underwater, part of a vast sea full of amazing creatures. 

Today, we can get a glimpse into the past by searching for fossils from this time, known as the Cretaceous period.  Along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, piles of sand dredged up from the bottom of the canal are full of fossilized marine animals.   We visited this area last week on the Delaware Nature Society Family Fossiling trip.

A happy family using a sifting box to sift the sand for fossils at the C&D Canal.
A happy family using a sifting box to sift the sand for fossils at the C&D Canal.
The most-common fossil is the Belemnite, a small squid that roamed the seas during the time of the dinosaurs.  These fossils look like amber-colored bullets, with the pointy end being the head of the squid.  The Belemnite is the official state fossil of Delaware!
A couple of oyster-like Exogyras and snail-like Turritellas.
A couple of oyster-like Exogyras and snail-like Turritellas.

There are lots of interesting mollusk fossils to be found, with corresponding cool names:  Exogyra, Ostrea, Grodes, Turritella, and many more.  The ultimate prize to find at this location is a fossilized shark tooth. 

The fun is in the hunt, and the Delaware Nature Society’s family fossiling trips always dig up a good time while seeking signs of the past.

Upcoming programs with the Delaware Nature Society:  Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Extravaganza – April 30, Violets of the Red Clay Valley – May 2, Ashland to Coverdale Farm Wildflower Walk and Lunch – May 5, Roger Tory Peterson Celebration – May 5, Wildflower Gardens of Mt. Cuba, Birding Series begins May 8.  Visit www.delawarenaturesociety.org

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