This web site is intended to help the amateur collector in the identification of fossils from Big Brook. It is NOT intended to be all-inclusive. There are going to be fossils found at this locality that are not covered, especially from the invertebrate fauna, which are actually more abundant than the vertebrates. This book covers the fossils that can be found on a normal day of collecting along with some of the more uncommon material to supply a more rounded picture of what the vertebrate and, to lesser extent, the invertebrate fauna was like 70 million years ago.

This web site deals mainly with the vertebrate fossil record from Big Brook for two reasons. To begin with, the invertebrate fossil record is too numerous to include in a simple format. Detailed discussions on the entire invertebrate fauna would take up two volumes this size. Further, several other authors have discussed the invertebrate fauna, most notably in the two-volume work "The Cretaceous fossils of New Jersey" by H. G. Richards et. al. (1958 - 1962). If more information about invertebrates is required, this set is a good reference to check.

This guide came about because of the frustration of the authors in referencing many different sources that were, for the most part, written in the 1950's and 60's. There was also very little current information on the Cretaceous fossils of New Jersey, especially in a format that most people could understand or reference. More often than not, the authors went to the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton when a fossil was not identifiable. The authors would encourage this for any fossil that cannot be identified. This not only provides an identification of the fossil but also gives the paleontologists a chance to see what is out in the field. Big Brook has been a site for many new and significant finds over the years, almost all of which has been made by amateur collectors. However it is hoped that this book will reduce the number of trips to the local museum for the purpose identification of some of the more common fossils from this locality.

It is the intention of the authors to provide an identification guide in a simple and easy to understand format but to also make familiar some of the terms that are in paleontology. To the best of the authors' ability, the terms have been explained in the text but there is also a glossary in the back to help with the terms that need further clarification.

This web site represents the most current information available at time of printing. There has been extensive research into the fossil fauna by professional and amateur paleontologists, but the authors have tried to simplify these works as much as possible. This information should be used as a stepping stone to other more thorough works. Due to the nature of paleontology, names and assignments are always changing to reflect new information. If any errors or omissions have inadvertently crept into this work the authors would welcome corrections and additions for later publications.

The format for this field guide is as follows:
                                                               1. Common name.
                                                               2. Scientific name.
                                                               3. View of what the animal possibly looked like.
                                                               4. Description of fossil material.
                                                               5. Commonality of fossil material.
                                                               6. Similar looking fossils from this locality.
                                                               7. Size of the animal.
                                                               8. Description of habits, habitats, etc.  and other interesting
                                                               9. Views of the fossil material.
In the scientific name, the generic name comes first, the species name second, then the name of the person who described the species. The generic and the species name are in Latin or Greek and are italicized or underlined. The italicized names in parenthesis are older assignments.

Use this information to the best of your ability and most of all, have fun.
Sharks, Rays, & Skates
The Identification Pages:
Geology of Big Brook
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Some things you should know
General Information Pages:
Upper Cretaceous Formations