Many organisms lived in this place, and many more ended up here. Get to know the ones we’ve discovered so far.
Birds at the bottom of the sea? Several kinds of birds lived nearby or migrated through the skies above, and one way or another they sank to the bottom of the sea and were buried in the sand.
Many types of clams have been found at the quarry, and they’re the most common fossil. They lived on the sea floor, filtered tiny food particles from the water, and were an important food source for many other animals that lived here, especially rays and snails.
Corals are stationary animals that absorb food particles directly from the water and belong to the phylum cnidaria.
Several members of the order Crocodilia have been discovered so far. Some lived in rivers and washed out to sea, and some appear to have lived in the ocean. Today, marine crocodiles are rare, but in the Cretaceous they were much more common.
While the birds we’ve found here are technically theropod dinosaurs, we knew it would feel like cheating if we said we had dinosaurs but they were all birds. So we made a separate category that would also include our – so far – lone Hadrosaurus.
You’d have to go way farther back than the Cretaceous to find a sea without fish. We often find their teeth, spines and bones at the quarry.
Also known as brachiopods, these fossils look a lot like clams at first glance. If you saw them alive, however, you’d notice a stalk coming out of a hole in the back of the top shell, giving them a shape sort of like a desk lamp or street lamp.
Lobsters have loved the Atlantic for probably as long as there’s been an Atlantic. (Which is actually not that long, geologically speaking.)
These giant marine reptiles were more closely related to lizards and snakes than to dinosaurs. This makes them no less terrifying.
Nautiluses and ammonites
Like a cross between a snail and squid, these animals had tentacles that writhed out from the opening of a straight or spiral shell. Nautiluses are still alive today, but ammonites were wiped out at the end of the Cretaceous, along with their predators, the mosasaurs.
Flaky oyster shells are a common sight in the green sand of the quarry. We’ve identified several varieties so far.
Like slowly-moving pincushions, these spiny echinoderms would have crawled along the sea floor and filtered bits of food out of the sand.
Sharks and rays
The ancient group of animals called Chondrichthyes was plentiful and diverse at this location. We often find their teeth and vertebrae – but not much else, since they had soft skeletons that didn’t fossilize.
The sea snails here were surprisingly diverse, and probably very beautiful. Many of them were moon snails, whose modern relatives can be exceptionally colorful and brightly patterned. They lived on the seafloor and likely fed on the clams and oysters that lived here, as well as the corpses of animals that sank to the bottom. Some of them were more gentle filter feeders that burrowed below the surface and ate particles of food that floated by.
Testudines is a diverse animal family that includes both sea- and land-dwellers. The turtles we’ve identified here include sea turtles as well as turtles that likely lived in streams or estuaries nearby, and were washed out to sea.