Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fossil Hunting at Big Brook

We've been having so much fun exploring the Garden State this summer, and this weekend blew all the others out of the water. While searching for dinosaur-related activities in New Jersey I came across several New Jersey fossil collecting sites and started reading about fossil hunting in Big Brook and Shark River. Big Brook is in Colt's Neck, NJ close to Holmdel where the Boss lives, and according to my sources visitors looking for fossils there have more luck than in Shark River. It's chock full of Cretaceous Period shark teeth, bony fish fossils, cephlapod fossils, reptiles and many, many other prehistoric bones and teeth. Lucky for us Big Brook is only 45 minutes away from Bayonne.

We read the Fossil Guy's website, which is full of info about fossil hunting in NJ and has a little field guide to the fossils found in Big Brook. There are also gave instructions for building your own sifters, which you need when digging through silt and creek bed. Mr. T made our sifters Sunday morning, and we set out after Mr. S's naptime for the gorgeous country routes of New Jersey. The drive to Colts Neck is lovely, passing through little towns and farm land and many picturesque back roads. We got turned around a couple of times, but eventually got back on NJ 34 and found Boundary Road and then Hillsdale Road and then the little bridge and parking area for Big Brook. If we didn't have precise directions from fossil websites, we'd never have found this place. It's in the middle of nowhere...right where I wish we lived.

Mr. S was all ready to go with his galoshes, trowel and sifter.

Big Brook itself was beautiful! We saw baby squirrels, goldfinches and other songbirds, and the whole time we were sifting there were hummingbirds feasting in one of the bushes near our spot.

We weren't exactly sure what we were looking for, but we're pretty adept at spotting shark teeth, and we found plenty of those. But there were all sorts of other strange-looking rocks that kept coming up in my screen that I just tossed back in the water. Later once we got home and I looked at the fossil guy's photos and field guide I realized I'd tossed back plenty of Drumfish teeth. We also kept coming across these amber colored icicle-shaped items, that I thought were some sort of geological formation. They were too beautiful to toss back, so we kept a few. Those turned out to be Belemnites--the internal shell of some sort of prehistoric squid-like Cephlaphod.

I found what looks like a small rib bone:

We also found several types of shark teeth and a possible salmon tusk. As well as a couple of little fossilized shells.

But the coolest find of all was what looks like the vertebrae of some sort of reptile or possibly shark. I will post photos of this shortly. Hopefully, when my parents come to visit in a couple of weeks my dad will be able to identify it.

We stayed in Big Brook for hours, and would have stayed longer if we weren't so hungry and dinner time wasn't so near.

It was by far one of the best weekends spent in NJ, and we're already making plans for another trip before the winter comes.

1 comment:

Diane R. said...

Hi Gwyn Family. I enjoyed your post on Big Brook-I recently took my daughter & her friend there. (Both are young adults.) Anyway, ironically enough you will find the same constellation of Cretaceous era fossils in West Tennessee, at a site called Coon Creek. This part of TN was covered by a shallow seaway, the Cretaceous sea, that divided the east coast of North America from the west coast. Monmouth County was also coastal at the time. Of course, east TN is just like northwest NJ, geologically speaking---they have the Appalachians in common.
Enjoy Autumn. Regards, Diane

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