amber - Fossil tree resin, durring the Cretaceous in New Jersey, the tree that produced the amber was a
ammonite - A group of coiled cephalopods.
amphacoelous - a vertebra type with two conical shaped openings at either end (i.e. shark vertebra).
anterior - The front part of an object.
Archaic - Earliest of the periods of Indian occupation in New Jersey.
articulated - Found together as in life.
Atlantic Coastal Plain - A continuous belt of Cretaceous and Tertiary sediments that starts at New Jersey,
runs down to Georgia, over to Texas, then North to Kansas.
batoids - The group of rays and skates.
bedding - Layering in sedimentary rock.
bilateral - Diverges from a central point.
biped - Animals that walk on two legs.
bivalved - A group of mollusks that possess two hinged valves.
brachiopod - A group of bivalve invertebrates with two unequal valves. They are usually attached to the sea
floor by a stalk.
calcified - Mineralized by calcium in life to make cartilage harder and durable.
carapace - The upper half of the shell of a turtle.
Carboniferous - The sixth epoch of the Paleozoic era. Often divided into the Mississippian and the
Pennsylvanian epochs. From 345 to 280 million years.
carinae - The raised cutting edges on reptile teeth.
cartilage - An elastic tissue composing most of the skeleton of sharks, rays, skates, and chimeras.
cast - The filling of the void after the original organic material has been dissolved. Sediment or other minerals
can form casts.
centrium - The main cylindrical part of vertebra.
cephalic hook - The sexual clasper on the front of the head.
cephalopod - A group of mollusks resembling an octopus or squid usually with a chambered shell. This shell
can be straight or coiled.
cf. - Short for "compares favorably to".
chitin - The organic material found in the exoskeletons of lobsters and in higher vertebrates as claws.
concretion - A mineral nodule that forms around a sand grain or an organic object. Usually made of limonite,
siderite, or calcite.
comfortable contact - Formations that are deposited without interruption.
consolidated - Compacted and turned to rock.
Continental shelf - A relatively shallow (up to 200 meters [about 600 ft.]) submarine plain forming a border
around a continent.
coprolite - The fossilized waste matter of animals.
costae - Ridges on the surface only.
Cretaceous - Last epoch of the Mesozoic era. From 135 to 65 million years.
Cucullaea fauna - The fauna that lives during the time when the deposit is middle to outer shelf (deeper water).
cusp - The main enamel coated cutting surface of a shark tooth.
cusplets - The smaller enamel coated blades on either side of the main cusp.
dentary - Teeth in the jaw.
Devonian - The Age of Fish. Fourth epoch of the Paleozoic era. From 400 to 345 million years.
discomfortable contact - Contact between formations that are separated by an erosional vent before the next
formation was deposited. A disconformity represents a short period of missing time.
dorsal fin spine - The bony spine that supported the dorsal fin.
ectopterygoid teeth - Teeth attached to the ectopterygoid bone. This bone was in the roof of the mouth near
enamel - An organic substance used in teeth to form a hard and sharp cutting edge or a durable crushing
environmentally stunted - When the conditions are not favorable for plants or animals to grow. For example,
due to a lack of oxygen, shells at the bottom of the sea are dwarfed.
Eocene - The third epoch of the Tertiary era. From 58 to 36 million years.
et. al. - Short for "and others".
exoskeletons - The hard external covering make of chitin.
fauna - A group of animals that are characteristic of a certain age, locality, or formation.
fluvial - Deposited by streams or rivers.
fossil - Any indication of ancient life. Most fossils are from the hard parts of animals such as teeth, bones, or
shell or wood in plants. Trackways, burrows, and footprints are also considered fossils.
formation - A basic rock unit.
formation group - Two or more formations that share similar features.
fossil indicator - Fossils that are not limited or restricted to a formation but occur more in that formation or
group of formations than in others.
gavial - A primitive group of crocodilians.
genus - A group of closely related species.
glacier - A massive sheet of ice that slowly creeps over the land scraping it bare. As the ice sheet retreats
north, the glacier will deposit sand and gravel.
glauconite - The major mineral in greensand or marl.
greensand - See marl.
guard - The hard part of a belemnite that normally fossilizes.
heterodonty - The morphology of teeth within the jaws (anterior to posterior, upper to lower) of a single
index fossil - Fossils that have a limited range to a single formation.
Inner Coastal Plain - Inner belt of mostly Late Cretaceous sediments.
inner shelf- Landward (shallow) portion of the continental plain.
interglacial period - An interval during an overall glacial period in which average worldwide temperatures
were more like today.
in situ - Found in formation. Latin term meaning "in place".
invertebrate - A group of animals that lack backbones.
labial - The side of the shark tooth that faces out from the mouth.
lamnoid - Group of sharks that possess a more primitive type of vertebra.
lateral - The side part of an object.
lignite - Fossilized wood. Intermediate in development to coal.
lingual - The side of the shark tooth that faces in the mouth.
lithology- What makes up a formation and the way it is laid down.
Lucina fauna - The fauna that lives during the time when the deposit is inner to middle shelf (shallower water).
marl - marine sediment made of sand, clay, and glauconite in different ratios.
medial protrusion - The moundlike structure on the central part of the tooth.
member - Some formations are further subdivided if there is a slight lithology change i.e. Sandy Hook member
of the Red Bank formation.
Mesozoic - The Age of Reptiles (Dinosaurs). The second era. From 225 to 65 million years.
middle shelf- The intermediate portion of the continental shelf.
Miocene - The fourth epoch of the Tertiary era. From 26 to 6 million years.
mold - The impression a shell or other organic object leaves in the sediment. If the mold preserves the outer
structure of the object, then it is an external mold. If the mold preserves the internal structure of the
object, then it is an internal mold or steinkern.
mosasaur - Group of marine reptiles.
neural arch - The bridge of bone surrounding the spinal cord.
neural processes - The central projection on a vertebra. Attached to the neural arch.
nutrient foramen - The hole to supply nutrients to the tooth as it grew.
nutrient groove - The small channel that leads to the nutrient foramen.
ossified - See calcified.
Outer Coastal Plain - Outer belt of mostly Tertiary sediments.
outer shelf - The seaward portion of the continental plain.
palatine - The anterior teeth that were attached to the palatine bone in fish; usually fangs.
paleontologist - One who studies fossils.
paleontology - The study of fossils.
paleocene - The first epoch of the Tertiary era. From 65 to 58 million years.
parietal - The central portion of the skull.
pelagic - Living in the open ocean.
pelecypod - A group of bivalve invertebrates with two somewhat equal valves.
pelvic hook - The sexual clasper on the pelvic fins.
permineralized - Mineral material forming into the spaces in a fossil but still leaves the fossil intact.
pharyngeal - Teeth near the pharynx.
phosphaic fillings - Having been replaced by minerals containing phosphorus.
plastron - The lower half of the shell of a turtle.
Pleistocene - The Ice age. The last epoch of the Tertiary era. From 2 million to 500 thousand years.
plicated - having ruffles in the shell.
plications - Ruffles in the shell.
posterior - The back part of an object.
preferred orientation - The tendency of objects to align themselves due to external forces such as gravity or
prevailing water currents. In Belemnitella, the guard aligns parallel or perpendicular to the current. In
Exogyra and Pycnodonte, the lower valve aligns on the more stable flattened side.
premaxillary - lower anterior teeth.
processes - A projection of bone off the centrum or the neural arch for the attachment of ligaments and
procoelous - A vertebra type with a concaved anterior and a convexed posterior (i.e. mosasaur vertebra).
Quaternary - The period in which modern times are in. From 500 thousand years to modern times.
recurrent fauna - A group of animal species that is found in a particular environment. As the environment
recurs, so does the fauna.
rostral spine - A toothlike structure covered in enamel that attached to the bill of a sawfish.
rostrum - The hard part of a belemnite that normally fossilizes or the bill of the sawfish.
scliorhynoid - Group of sharks that possess a more modern type of vertebra.
scrappy - Small, fragmented, and hard to identify.
scute - The bony plates along the back that "float" in the skin as in crocodiles or the fused plates that make up
the shell of a turtle.
serrations - The small projections on the cutting edge.
sexual claspers - A bony structure that the males possess to help hold on to the female during mating in water.
species - A group of very closely related individuals.
steinkern- Another term used for the internal mold of shells.
stratigraphy - The order and relative position of the layers in a formation.
striations - The small ridges on the surface of an object.
Tertiary - Epoch after the Mesozoic era. From 65 million to 500 thousand years.
terminal moraine - Irregular accumulation of unsorted sand and gravel that was deposited upon the retreat of
Transitional - Middle period of Indian occupation in New Jersey.
transverse processes - The two projections that are attached to the centrum.
tritors - The spongy channels in chimerid jaws that allowed them to crush their food.
uncomfortable - Contact between formations that are separated by an erosional event before the next
formation was deposited. An unconformity represents a long period of missing time.
vertebra - A series of bones that make up the spine.
vertebrate - A group of animals that possess backbones.
vomerine - The teeth in the palate bone.
Wisconsin Ice Sheet - The most recent and greatest of the Pleistocene ice sheets to advance in North America.
Woodland - Latest of the periods of Indian habitation in New Jersey.
Underlined words in definition are cross-listed