Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pennsylvania Fossil Hunting

Most people aren't aware that 375 million years ago in Pennsylvania, there was a shallow ocean. It was located near what is now the Swatara State park. Of course over time this ocean dried up, but there are still remnants to be found. Fossil hunters from all around have come to dig through the sedimentary rocks that formed in the ocean, hoping to find a rare fossil.

The most popular and most often found fossil in Pennsylvania is Phacops Rana, which is also the state fossil. This organism was known as a tribolite, which is an extinct category of jointed-legged animals. The Phacops Rana is thought to be the very first organism known to have eyes, and they were quite large as well. They also had numerous appendages which were used for walking, swimming, and also feeding. This organism would be closely related to crabs, lobsters, and insects, and like these creatures it also had a hard exoskeleton.

This fossil is particularly common in the central Pennsylvania area, but finding a complete specimen is quite rare. If you wish to try your luck finding the state fossil or other fossils, visit the fossil pit at Swatara State Park.

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