Thursday, April 22, 2010

They're not Seahorses, They're Eurypterids

With the coming of a new season, one which does not bury the Central New York strata in many feet of snow, is the gradual opening of an unofficial hunting season.

The snow disappears, some glaring ball of fire in the sky once again shows it's face. The ground dries out and pack boots are not required for simple tasks such as walking dogs or getting the mail.

Colorful birds show up or molt from earth toned ones, singing the hunter into the woods as he finally - after months of researching, planning, readying the weapons and of course - dreaming of the kill.

This time has approached in central New York. The season is open.

It's time to hunt some fossils.

ON Tuesday earlier on this week, fellow dead-animals-in-rock enthusiast Randall and myself decided to meet up in Mohawk, NY to start a journey through the Silurian and Devonian boundary rocks of New York's Mohawk Valley. Stops were planned in a total of three counties (Herkimer, Oneida and Madison) known for sedimentary rocks of the middle Paleozoic seas.

Starting near Mohawk, NY; our first stop were Dayville Member carbonates...which are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, near the town of Getman Corners.
On top you can see some the much more planar-bedded Dayville. Member. We're still in the (upper) Devonian at this point.
Here's a huge tabulate coral. Huge by my standards, anyways. This guy is the biggest I have found. The entire top layer you see in the first image is composed, almost entirely, of rocks similar to this. Float blocks at the bottom of the slope (which you may also view in the first image) are composed entirely of tabulates.

We then decided to do a short little drive in the nearby Spinnersville/Ilion area, in the vicinity of Lang's Quarry, famous for Eurypterids of the Fiddler's Green in great quantity and quality. As we neared Lang's however, there were up to six POSTED signs on each tree letting us know that we were not welcome. Maybe someday.

So we continued on to across the valley towards Litchfield. Near Jarusalem Hill there is a fine outcrop of Fiddler's Green in which Randall promised Eurypterid pieces. We got one better:
Probably not complete enough to identify beyond it's genus, but still a great specimen in my opinion. I just managed to hit the rock in perfect spot, and this guy popped out. Randall also collecting an excellent carapace.
This one was from a much bigger specimen, but as you can see, is quite incomplete. This came from a piece of float, so trying to find what could have been the carapace would be like, well, finding a Eurypterid carapace (not easy).

Then on to some of the Green Vedder Member (Devonian). Randall was here to collect some shales, and I was there to finally bite into my pulled pork sandwich I had packed five hours before. We did not stay long, as the aggregate company across the road had someone staked out watching us.
We then visited the amazing Mosquito Point Outcrop in Munnsville(ish) which contained one of my favorite Devonian Formations, The Coeyman's Limestone.
The darker rocks towards the top are Coeymans. The lighter, whitish rock, was composed almost entirely of these guys (On the right):
Tabulata abound!

The Rugosa sp. to the left is from the Coeymans.

Typical Coeymans:
Two nice fat gastropods. Gastropods, though incredibly interested to me, are not my specialty. I wish I could at least place them in a Genus, but alas, cannot at this time.

We ended at Stockbridge Falls, over the hill and across the valley from The Mosquito Point outcrop.
The area was littered with Onondaga Limestone (Onondaga Formation), which in this area is likely to overlay either Coeymans or Kalkberg Limestone of the Helderberg Group of the Early Devonian.

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