Fossil Section Introduction



The four reference books listed on the Resources page will help you identify your New York finds.

Labeling and Cataloging

Label your find with enough information to describe the location source. For example:

Monodechenella macrocephalus
30 cm above Greens Landing Coral Bed
Jaycox Member
Kashong Glen
near Belona, NY
Collected 7/11/98

These can be put on a file card coded to the catalog number of your specimen (e.g. KGJ-5). If the specimen is large enough find an obscure place and paint a small white patch (either white-out or write paint). When dry use black waterproof ink and apply the catalog number. You might want to protect the label with a thin coat of clear lacquer. How you decide on your system of catalog numbers is up to you, but you should be consistent. One idea is to use letter(s) for the locality, followed by one for the rock unit, then (after a dash) a number for the specimen, e.g. KGJ-5.

Binary Keys

These keys are arranged so that you can easily identify your fossil by noting features that distinguish it from other similar forms. These are intended to help you to learn what features may be most useful in identification. You start with the first pair of choices and determine which one best fits your specimen. Then you go to the pair of choices to which you are directed and repeat the procedure, ultimately narrowing your search down to the identity of the fossil.

You need to be somewhat familiar with species morphology to use these keys. It is always a good idea once you have identified your fossil to check a published reference for accuracy.

Binary Key for Brachiopods (Hamilton Group of Western New York)

Binary Key for Mollusks (Hamilton Group of Western New York)