A straigtht shell Nautiloid/Cephelapod from the Devonian Era
Upstate New York is an interesting place to look for fossils. The ice ages stripped most of the upper layers that would contain dinosaurs or larger fauna, but left some of the earliest eras of life on Earth near the surface. You may not find a dinosaur, but the Silurian and Devonian eras are within a few inches of the surface in some places. The fossils in these two eras record life as it began to differentiate and grow in complexity. Trilobites and Eurypterids are common fossils in both eras. The Eurypterid is the state fossil of New York. Modern descendents of Eurypterids include Horseshoe crabs and scorpions. Here are a couple fossil sites in upstate NY. If you need directions to each site,just zoom out on the Google map a bit.
Pittsford Plaza This site is an old section of the Erie Canal that was bypassed during an enlargement late in the 19th century. It is right behind the modern shopping center. If you look closely, you can even make out an abandoned canal lock. This section of the canal cuts through something called Pittsford Shale. Here is a description of fossils that can be found there. EDIT: I scouted the Pittsford site and posted about it HERE. I think a better place to search for fossils would be behind the Spring House instead of the Wegman’s Plaza. HERE is a google map of the site. It’s a few hundred yards North of the abandoned canal lock.
East Bethany railroad It’s a little hard to make out on this Google map, they don’t have high resolution pictures of this area. Here is a road map version. The railroad cut off of Francis road was abandoned years ago. The site is just south of Francis road. The railroad cuts through a large hill that contains many fossils. this site is full of clams and other Devonian fossils. It’s very easy to find surface fossils here. A great site for beginners (like me)
EDIT: I went back to the East Bethany site: http://npanth.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/new-east-bethany-fossils/
Long Pond Road Park on the circle of Marina Drive. This is a working part of the Erie Canal, so you have to go there when the canal is drained during the winter. I haven’t been there yet, but I’ve heard that this site doesn’t have a lot of fossils, but does have high quality specimens. The best place to search is to the east of the parking area.