Fossils are the remains of animals and plants that died long ago. Their remains have been replaced by minerals and the resultant cast is called a fossil.

Fossils occur in sedimentary rock.

Many fossils are of plants & animals that used to live in the sea. Fossils are a great record of living things from a long time ago.

Most of the time, the fossil is made of rock harder than the surrounding rock and so it survives. As the host rock erodes, the fossil weathers out and rolls away - often onto a beach or in a creek bed.

Another very common place to find fossils is in limestone quarries where the blasting of rocks uncover the many different layers of fossils.

Fossils are interesting to look at even if you don't know what they are called or when they were formed. Many fossils look similar to plants and animals that still live today. Below are just a few of the different kinds of fossils. If you click on the links, you will then see more pictures of that kind of fossil and where they are found by rockhounds. Most of these pictures are of fossils found by ordinary people - rockhounds whose hobby it is to collect these interesting kinds of rocks.

Some of the places we have fossils from are: Alden NY   Arkona ON  Beaverton ON   Coldwater Quarry ON   Eighteen Mile Creek NY       Manitoulin Island ON  

Fossils from Ontario - K. Kidd Collection

Cyclocystoid -related to starfish & crinoids -very rare

Bryozoan (Constellaria - very rare)

Blastoid (Nucleocrinus)

Snail (Bembexia)

Trilobite hypostome
(mouth part)

(Stenaster obtusus)


(enrolled Flexicalymene senaria)

(Isotelus mafritzae)

(Thaleops laurentiana)
TRILOBITE - Isotelus Mafritzae
449 - 460 Million Years Old
Lindsay Formation
St. Mary's Quarry, Bowmanville Ontario CANADA
aka Nick's Heart Attack Trilobite
September 23, 2007
Heliophyllum halli

Manitoulin Island, Ontario



Eighteen Mile Creek, New York, USA

Kona dolomite (a stromatolite)
Paleoproterozoic age 2.2-2.3 billion years old
Chocolay group
Kona Hills, Marquette County, Michigan

Fossils – Nature’s Calendar
© Bert Ellison 1999 - 2002

While minerals are the core of most of our collections – colors, crystal forms, rarity? – fossils can be just as fascinating in form and rarity, though rarely colorful. For these reasons some of our members are devoted to fossils and their histories.

Happily these parts of southern Ontario are rich in the preserved remains of (usually) extinct creatures. There is a vast literature on the searching; classification and history of fossils and readers are encouraged to seek these out at libraries and shops.

Geological specialists called stratigraphers rely very heavily on fossils as they try to match (correlate) formations of rocks in one area with those in another, often hundreds of kilometres – or even continents – away. So, far from being objects of mystery and superstition to the ancients, today fossils are essential to revealing the relative ages of rocks. Of course this method is now backed up by the more precise radiometric technique.

The relative dating system, being all early geologists had, was first put to formal use in the superb work of William Smith’s map of 1815, finally published after years of observing rock layers (strata) as he built canals. This, after all, was the time of the great Industrial Revolution when coal was king and steam began to frighten horses (and people too!).

This was the time too when that great concept, the geological time scale, was being hammered out – bitterly at times. Now it is not only useful but essential for putting time and fossils into perspective. Collectors take note!

In these parts of Ontario (Toronto-Brampton-Niagara) we live on the eastern edge of a grand "saucer" tilted to the southwest on a great thickness of Ordovician carbonate rocks (limestone and dolomite) shale and sandstone. Farther west on the Escarpment are stacked rocks of Silurian age (See? You do need the time chart!). The top of the Ordovician, by the way, is marked by a brick-red (sometimes green-mottled) shale named Queenston Shale – a superb "marker" bed but with no visible fossils.

Still farther west e.g. London, are still younger Devonian beds (Sarnia’s oilfields) and farther, some Lower Carboniferous (Mississippian) rocks. So the great span of time represented here is happy hunting for collectors with rock ages from 440 m.y. to 260 m.y.

To get started herewith is a skeleton list (pun intended) useful in road cuts, stream valleys and on shores. Write to your editor for more details:

Ordovician and Silurian – graptolites (in black shales), trilobites, crinoids, cephalopods (long cones, some coiled), gastropods (snails), pelecypods (clams), brachiopods (like clams but oddballs).

Devonian – gastropods, pelecypods, brachiopods, corals (solitary horn shaped and colonial honeycomb and chain types).

But bear in mind. The time divisions are man-made. These ancient creatures weren’t smart enough to oblige and often "slopped over" from one age to the next. Well, who’s to quibble over a few million years?


Newfoundland - Aguathuna - Atlantic Minerals Quarry  

brachiapods with quartz, calcite - phoshorescent & fluorescent

conularid impressions (ribbed)- possibly jellyfish, worm tubes, barite

conularid impressions (ribbed)- possibly jellyfish, worm tubes, barite

Other Fossils

Megalomus  a.k.a.  Beef Heart     Gibsonburg, Ohio USA



Ammolite    Madagascar









There are many places that fossils can be collected. Creek beds are the easiest places to start since the water helps release the fossils from the sedimentary rock by eroding the river banks. Over time, the fossils - which are usually made of harder rock, are exposed or tumble out onto the gravel and sand bars.


Port Colborne Quarry, Port Colborne, Ontario  CANADA
Spring Creek, Alden, New York  USA
18 Mile Creek, North Eden, New York  USA
Miller Minerals Quarry, New Liskeard, Ontario  CANADA
Joggins, Nova Scotia  CANADA

According to some, in order to make the fossils stand out, use DEXTBIN - available at a pharmacy.
It is water soluble. Mix a drop of water & a toothpick of powder. Paint it on the fossil.

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