Fossil Hunting

Nov 26 2014

Fossil Hunting

Whether strolling along the island’s shoreline or hiking its trails, visitors will find fossils because they are everywhere. Almost every piece of stone is a maze of fossils!  “Whether My mystery shell in this large block of limestone is the inside view of a Rafinesquina ponderosa, a form of brachiopod (not the same as a clam), about 450 million years old. The central indentations are muscle scars. It was puzzling to me that the brachiopod would be there because most of the fossils on that beach are more recent, but Marvin tells me those big blocks were brought in from somewhere else. That may explain it. The coral that we wet down to take a better look at is Eridophyllum seriale, dating back between 400 and 360 million. Needless to say, the water temperature was much warmer then, to support all the corals you will see on Kelleys Island and–I love this part–the land we think of as “Ohio” was near the Equator. Isn’t life interesting?” –Carolyn McPherson

Once covered by vast tropical seas and later by giant glaciers, the Ohio landscape features an abundance of fossils. The glaciated portions of the state are home to Ice Age fossils, including plants and ancient mammals. But southwestern and northwestern Ohio boast a wider variety of much older marine fossils, including the official state fossil Isotelus.

Fossils show us what kind of vegetation existed in Carboniferous Ohio. There were lots of ferns, giant reeds, horsetails, and most of the trees had scaly bark. Many animals lived among the vegetation, including the largest insects in our planet’s history. For example, Ohio was home to a dragonfly with wings over two feet across! Insects and other arthropods could get so big during the Carboniferous Period because high levels of oxygen were created by the plants.

In addition to bugs and coal, the Carboniferous rocks of Ohio are famous for other things, including deposits of both clay and flint—our official state gemstone . The flint from Flint Ridge in Licking County was used by prehistoric people to make tools and weapons and was traded all over North America. It also was used by Ohio’s early settlers to make grindstones. Today, Ohio flint is prized around the world and sought after by artists and lapidarists to make beautiful jewelry . Native American findings are rare but do occur on the shores and I lands of the island still.

For Fossil hunting without all the work, visit the Island Mining Company in Caddy Shack Square.