The Fossils of Parks Township is a fossil catalog and independent research entity. Parks is a Township in Armstrong County, one of 67 counties in the state of Pennsylvania. The city of Pittsburgh sits approximately 30 miles to the southwest. The majority of fossils cataloged and described are from Pennsylvanian-aged strata from Western Pennsylvania.

The fossil collection sites explored are within the Glenshaw Formation. The formation consists of a series of ancient sea transgression and regressions. These regressions laid down layers of limestone, sandstone, and shale in a repeating pattern. Layers of limestone exist within marine zones, vertical lengths of bedrock that represent marine sediment. These zones carry abundant fossils. Between the zones lie a series of shale and sandstone which also can carry fossils. Limestones here are sediments of ancient intruding warm shallow seas. As the planet heated up over several hundreds of thousand years, global sea levels rose and flooded continental basins. There were times of a colder planet as well, making the seas retreat.

Collection Localities

The marine zone I explore the most in Parks Township is the Brush Creek marine zone, also known as the Brush Creek limestone. I also collect often from the Pine Creek marine zone in nearby Kittanning.

The Glenshaw is one of two formations in the Conemaugh Group. The Casselman Formation exists above at the hilltops, about a mile away. The Ames Limestone is the boundary between the Glenshaw and the Casselman.

The Glenshaw Formation.
Generalized section of the Glenshaw Formation. The major strata horizons that have marine fossils are labeled using all caps.

All fossils I find in Armstrong County are from the Carboniferous Period of time, more specifically the Pennsylvanian. This time spans a period of 298.9 – 323.2 million years ago. You can find fossils here in most types of rock. Local rocks include shale, limestone, sandstone, or a mix of any of these. Generally fossils that I find are between 303 to 307 million years in age.

The Geology of Parks Township, Pennsylvania

One key to finding and identifying fossils is to understand the local geology. The Parks Township Geology page has a high-level overview of the geology within the township boundaries. I also have information about what Parks Township was like back during the Carboniferous Period of time. Hint, it was below the Equator.

Publications

In the future, we hope to publish material to better describe the fossil and geological records of Parks Township and neighboring localities. A large portion of the first couple of years of exploring has involved learning about these topics and finding physical evidence locally. There are currently many ways we publish, this website being the primary source of new material.

Website Publications

This website contains two primary sources of publication. Fossils posts and pages. Posts are smaller research, typically focused on a single discovery or fossil recovery. One goal is to use as much photography as possible to highly the physical evidence in these finds. Pages are more comprehensive, with topics ranging from Paleontology Research, Parks Township geology, and descriptive resource pages that can help do similar work to what we are going. We also publish our fossil catalog, which is a serialized listing of specimens. While the majority of specimens are local, anything that is a fossil of interest can become a specimen in the collection. Part of learning can involve trading with collectors from all over the world, and these specimens become part of the collection.

Physical Publications

One important aspect of paleontology research is publication. This can be new discoveries or just a collection of research about a particular topic. Authors have described most of the common local fossil fauna. Yet, Western Pennsylvania still has a large number of discoveries left. Most collecting occurs where people dig, on the margins of regionally eroded hillsides, and in quarries. This leaves hundreds of square miles in just a single stratum with unrecovered material.

In the past years, I have managed to find species not yet reported, and have helped at least one author define a new species (pending publication). One known problem facing invertebrate paleontology today is a lack of research funding. Decades ago it was probably easier to get a research grant to go study the available invertebrate fauna here. Unfortunately, it seems that funding for that purpose is more difficult than ever.

I wish to publish:

  • manuscripts for research on fossil genera.
  • a local guide for identifying fossils found regionally using photography of locally recovered specimens.
  • a manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • occasional papers highlighting interesting recovered specimens.
  • information sheets. They are available here.

Global and Regional Fossil Information

Other Interesting Fossil Websites

Occasionally I find people doing similar work. Here are some good websites for fossil exploration.

CG-0348 - Strobeus sp.
CG-0348Strobeus sp. – A specimen from the Pine Creek limestone.

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