Geology of the New York City Region

Quaternary Fossils from New York Bight Beaches

The fossils illustrated below are examples found along the wrackline along beaches in the region. Fossils are genuinely scarce. However, they sometimes are exposed by severe beach erosion or erosion offshore. They sometimes wash up after storms or are dumped on the beach during dredging or beach replenishment operations.

Concretions (with fossils) from the Gardeners Clay (Sandy Hook)
Figure 148. Concretions from the Pleistocene/Holocene Gardeners Clay: A. concretion displaying massive bioturbation structures (hammer handle is 1 foot for scale); B. Concretion containing fossils of jingle shells, spruce pine cones, bone, and oyster shell . These specimens washed up on the beach at Sandy Hook during a winter storm.

Fossil coral and sponges
Figure 149. New York Bight beach fossils. Calcareous sponges: A. sponge encrusting a quahog shell; B. sponge encrusting an oyster shell; C. Stony Coral encrusting a concretion. These specimens were derived from Pleistocene-Holocene marine sediments, but both all species occur in the modern New York Bight. All specimens were found on Breezy Point, NY.

Fossil oysters and scallops
Figure 150. New York Bight beach fossils. Bivalves: A-C: Oysters preserved in growth position preserved in sideritic sandstone matrix; found on Breezy Point, NY. A radiocarbon analysis of a sample of oyster shell in concretion matrix yielded an Early Holocene date of 7,610 (+/-150) years before present. The matrix of oyster shell-bearing concretions contain an abundance of gastropods (mud dog whelk). Both species thrive in estuary environments. D-E: Bay scallops in concretion matrix; Sandy Hook, NJ.

Fossil gastropods and bivalves
Figure 151. New York Bight beach fossils. Bivalves: A-B. gastropods (mud dog whelk); Breezy point, NY. C. surf clam; Breezy Point, NY. D. razor clam; Sandy Hook, NJ. E-G. Internal molds of bivalve in lithified bay mud; Breezy Point, NY.

Fossil arthropods
Figure 152. New York Bight beach fossils: Arthropods: A-C. Blue claw crabs (Breezy Point, NY). D-E. green crabs (Breezy Point, NY). F. spider crab (Sandy Hook, NJ). G. barnacles attached to shell (Sandy Hook, NJ); H. American lobster claw (Sandy Hook, NJ).

Vertebrate fossils
Figure 153. New York Bight beach fossils from Rockaway Beach, Queens, NY: A. American walrus skull (left ventral view - note tusk socket); B. whale vertebrae. C-F. fish or shark vertebrae. G-H. unidentified vertebrae.

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Last modified: 3/11/2019