Dry Dredgers Field Trip
April 25 2015

Northern Kentucky Kope Site
Southgate Member, Kope Formation

Photos and words by Bill Heimbrock

For April 2015, we visited an old site that has been fossil hunted by the Dry Dredgers for decades. It exposes the Southgate member of the Kope formation in Northern Kentucky.

It was not raining when we arrived at the site at 10 AM. It was pretty overcast though. Rain drops began around 10:30 AM and got a bit steadier throughout the morning. This didn’t stop the Dry Dredgers. About a dozen people attended fully prepared to ignore the rain and collect Cincinnatian Kope formation fossils. Only a few people showed up at first, but others arrived fashionably late. Some great fossils were found that day and people seemed happy with their take-homes.

Here are just a few pictures of our wet fossil collecting.

There were tiny but easy-to-find fossils everywhere on this site. In the picture below, a glance at the ground revealed crinoid stems and trilobite parts. Click on the picture below to find the small, hard-to-see fossils.

Fossils Found That Day


Probably the best find of the day was this slab of crinoids found by J.S. Only two calyxes (crinoid crowns) were visible on the surface of the rock on the site. It was pretty muddy. But after he got it home and washed it up, he found two more crinoids on it. The next 3 pictures are of the slab while it was onsite and fresh from the clay.

Other people found crinoid calyxes free from the matrix. This usually happens when you are looking in the soft clay or "butter shale" layers. Here are four of these calyxes, the first three are pictured with the both sides. All of these are identified as Ectenocrinus simplex.

Stems without crowns were everywhere. Some rocks were solid compactions of crinoid columnals such as this next photo.

Other rocks had lots of articulated stems grouped together in what we call "log jams."

You could also find long, individual stems that kind of make you sad when you find them because the calyx could have been on one end, but was not. :-(


A wide variety of trilobites can be found on this Kope site. No whole trilobites were found. But pieces of five different kinds of trilobites were found.

Flexicalymene sp.

The sturdy pygidium or back end o the Flexi was abundant within the fossil hash on the surface of rocks.  (next 3 pics)

At least one thorax of a Flexicalymene sp. was found on imbedded in a rock.

Lots and lots of these rocks were loaded with trilobite pieces. Can you spot the Flexicalymene pygidium in the next two pictures? Can you pick out the additional Isotelus fragments on those same rocks? See - now you are fossil hunting!

We were also finding huge quantities of "lace collars" from the trilobite Cryptolithus bellulus. The second photo is a close-up of one fragment from the first photo showing the lace collar of the trilobite..

At least one complete hypostome of often large trilobite Isotelus sp. was found and shown below. In this case, it was a small trilobite. Note the US dime to the left of it.

On a much smaller scale, there are two tiny and spiny trilobites abundantly found on the surface of these rocks. Here's the "free cheek" of what is either a Primaspis sp. or an Acidaspis sp.

Here's a glabella (head) of what I think is a Primaspis sp. tiny spiny trilobite.

The tracks of all of these trilobites are found on the surface of the shale. These next 2 pics are the tracks of the trilobite Isotelus sp..

Here is what could be another track of the trilobite Isotelus sp. but could be something else. I wish it were a larger piece of shale to see where this track goes!

Nautiloid Cephalopods

The wet conditions that day made all the fossils stand out in brown calcite contrasting the grey shale. This was particularly true for the straight-shelled nautiloid cephalopods we found (next 4 pics).


Snails also stood out in brown against the gray shale (next 2 pics). This next picture is of a snail (probably Sinuites sp.) with something attached to it, perhaps an inarticulate brachiopod.

On the surface of rocks and loose in the shale, we found another type of gastropod - a high spired variety Hormotoma gracilis.

There was a good mollusk layer where the rocks were loaded with snails, clams, monoplacophorans and nautiloids.

In the above photo, there are both snails and clams. Upon closer examination, you can see the diagnostic hinge teeth that tells us this is the clam Lyrodesma sp..

Trace Fossils

Where ever we found shale, we found ichnofossils.


There were two abundant brachiopod types on this site. One is Cincinnetina multisecta (not pictured) and the other Sowerbyella rugosa. Both sides of one Sowerbyella is pictured below.


As is true at all Cincinnatian fossil sites, the bryozoans outnumbered all the other fossils.

One tiny fossil we found by examining the surface of rocks with a loup is the worm tubes of Cornulites sp.

Even closer examination with a lens revealed Ostracodes, a type of crustacean.

On smooth shale surfaces you can find black markings. These are classified as graptolites.

That's all for this trip. And you didn't even have to get soaked to enjoy seeing what we found!

Now let's see our (dry) May field trip to a new site in southern Indiana.

Previous Trips to This Northern Kentucky Kope Site






Back to the Field Trip Index Page

Return to Dry Dredgers Home Page


The Dry Dredgers and individual contributors reserve the rights to all information, images, and content presented here. Permission to reproduce in any fashion, must be requested in writing to admin@drydredgers.org.
www.drydredgers.org is designed and maintained by Bill Heimbrock.