Fossil Forensics

Nature Notes

Limestone layers of the Cincinnati area tell a tale of ocean life from millions of years ago. Scientists from all over the world come to the tri-state area to find and study these very fossils. Usually, fossils from the Ordovician Period, which occurred about 450 million years ago, are buried deep within the earth’s crust. However in the Cincinnati area, a unique shelf of uplifted sedimentary rocks allowed for an unusual amount of erosion that exposed very old soil layers…and fossils!

Very specific conditions allow for fossil formation. First, the animal or plant must possess hard parts such as teeth, bone, roots or stems. Second, the plant or animal must be buried by sediments quickly before any of the hard parts can be broken or destroyed by the elements. The perfect place for fossil formation is within a body of water, such as the shallow sea that scientists believe occupied our area millions of years ago.

A great place to search for evidence of fossilized marine life is within creek beds, where erosion is constantly exposing new things. Throughout the summer, our naturalist staff offer a variety of creeking programs at many different parks. You can find out when these programs, or any of our other educational programming, will be held in the seasonal GO Guide or on the online events calendar.

Amy Smith, Hub Naturalist

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