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The following readings have been compiled based on the recommendations of individuals who use these references as a primary resource for fossil collecting and identification. The majority of these selections are specific to the fossils and stratigraphy of New York and are invaluable for both amateur collectors and professional paleontologists. We have grouped these selections according to topic and have provided a brief overview of each. Summaries are provided by Kym Pocius

Fossil Identification
  • Clarke, J.M., & Ruedemann, R., 1912, The Eurypterida of New York: New York State Museum Memoir 14

    -- This book is out-of-print but if you can get your hands on it, this reference remains the definitive resource for identifying eurypterids, our state fossil.
  • Grabau, A.W., 1898-99, Geology and Palaeontology of Eighteen Mile Creek and the Lake Shore Sections of Erie County, New York: Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences Bulletin 6, Part I Geology, Part II Palaeontology

    -- Part I of Grabau's book discusses the Devonian geology and stratigraphy of the Eighteenmile Creek and Lake Erie shore areas of western Erie County. Part II presents descriptions of the genera and species of invertebrate fossils found in the Hamilton Group (dominately) in that area. However, the fossils described are representative of most of the invertebrates found throughout western and central New York. These descriptions are accompanied by excellently detailed lithographs depicting these fossils.

    Be forewarned that the stratigraphy and many of the genus names have been revised since the original publication date. An on-line update of both genera and species and the geology described in Grabau's book is available.

  • Linsley, D.M., 1994, Devonian Paleontology of New York: Paleontological Research Institution Special Paper 21

    -- This book is almost completely comprised of plates depicting hundreds of species of New York fossils, originally published by the New York Museum in James Hall's Palaeontology of New York and John Clarke's Museum Memoirs. Although Grabau describes the most commonly found species of the Hamilton Group of western New York, Linsley presents a much more comprehensive listing of New York fossils from the entire Devonian period. Even though written descriptions are not included, this book allows you to get down to the nitty-gritty detail of discriminating between similar species. Unfortunately Linsley's book is notably lacking in its presentation of New York's abundant coral species. The book also pays homage to the eurypterids, a dominately Silurian species that may have been included because they represent New York's State Fossil. The book is reasonably priced at $10 and can be obtained from the Paleontological Research Institution.

  • Shimer, H.W., & Shrock, R.R. 1944, Index Fossils of North America, MIT Press

    -- This hard-cover book is pricey ($105 at but contains an excellent resource for identifying genera of crinoids and other echinoderms, coverage of which is sparse to lacking in the previous three references. It also includes identification of Silurian invertebrates, which is touched on only briefly in Linsley's section on Eurypterids. Because this book covers fossils throughout North America it can be used as a guide when collecting fossils outside of the New York state area.
  • Whiteley, Thomas E., Kloc, Gerald J., & Brett, Carlton E. May 1, 2002, Trilobites of New York: An Illustrated Guide. Cornell University Press, NY.

    --An interview with Gerry Kloc, one of the Rochester Academy of Science authors, is provided by Anne Roth-Blizzard.

Understanding New York Stratigraphy

Why is stratigraphy so important to New York fossil collectors? Each rock unit contains its own particular suite of fossils, so knowing about the stratigraphy will give you an idea of what to expect or where to look for certain species. New York's geology is complex, but several references are available to help you understand the relationship between New York's stratigraphy and fossils.

  • New York State Geological Association: Annual Field Trip Guidebooks

  • Buehler, E.J., & Tesmer, I.H., 1963, Geology of Erie County, New York: Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences Bulletin v. 21, no. 3

  • Isachsen, Y.W., Landing, E., Lauber, J.M., Rickard, L.V., Rogers, W.B., eds., 1991, Geology of New York: A Simplified Account (with map): New York State Museum/Geological Survey, The State Education Department, Albany

  • Tesmer, I.H., 1975, Geology of Cattaraugus County, New York: Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences Bulletin, v. 27

  • Tesmer, I.H., 1981, Colossal Cataract: The Geologic History of Niagara Falls: State University of New York Press, Albany

Last Update October 20, 2004