Dry Dredgers Field Trip
Saturday, May 25, 2019
Northeastern Kentucky
Kope, Fairview and Bellevue Formations

Photos by Bill Heimbrock
All specimens are to scale with a U.S. penny, diameter 1.9 cm or 3/4 inch.

The Dry Dredgers returned to the giant road cut in Northeastern Kentucky after having last been there in September 2016. The site is so big, though, that we did not collect fossils anywhere near where we collected in 2016. Our chosen section starts with the Fairview Formation and rises into the Bellevue Formation. These formations are of late Ordovician age - 445 million years old. In this first picture, do you see an orange shirt near the top? That's Taylor and Bob Bross collecting in the Bellevue Formation. Bob phoned me at the time and asked me to take his picture, waving his hands so I could see him. He and his son Taylor were still waving their hands when they came down from up top (second picture) with their fossil finds for me to photograph.

Here are a few other pictures of the Dry Dredgers collecting fossils that day.

Check out the blue clay resting on this rock. This is a complete layer of bluish shale called the "butter shale" layer. When you find one of these layers, examine it carefully for trilobites.

Fossils Found That Day

The big hit of the day were the trace fossils. This first trace fossil appears to be a trilobite burrow called a Cruziana. This trilobite seems to have gone in a circle and then continued on. We see these confused trilobite traces every time we come here. Click this link for one found on our last field trip in 2016.

Here's another trilobite burrow. It's more delicate than most. It's called a Rhusophycus.

Another kind of Ichnofossil (trace fossil) found on this site is Diplocraterion. These are sometimes called "dumbells" and sometimes called "U-shaped" burrows. This first picture shows the top surface of a rock with burrows that have a hole at either end (dumbells). This is looking straight down on the burrows.

If on the other hand we split the rock so we can look down into it vertically, we see that the burrow where the holes are goes down into the rock and form a series of U shapes that widen near the bottom. This is also called Diplocraterion. It's just another view of this 3-dimensional trace fossil. You can find the U-shaped burrows by looking at the sides of any slab that have abundant dumbell traces on them.


No whole trilobites were found. Here is one glabella (head) of a Flexicalymene sp. trilobite.

...And here are some porrly preserved thorax segments of the large trilobite Isotelus sp.


There were large quantities of the small brachiopod Cincinnetina multisecta in some layers. These layers are often marker beds, helping paleontologists know what layer they are examining.

Another somewhat less common brachiopod found loose and in rocks such as this one below is Hebertella sp.

There is one particular layer in the Fairview formation exposed on this site that has an abundance of the brachiopod Strophomena sp.. Anywhere else on this same site, they are much less common. The slab below is from the layer where they are common.

There are a few species of Vinlandostrophia found on this site, depending on the layer. The one below is Vinlandostrophia cypha.


This first fossil is a clam in which both the negative and positive of a valve impression was found. The dark coloring may be carbon preserving some of the shell microstructure.

Here's another nice clam impression that has coloration that may have preserved microstructure of the original aragonitic shell. This clam looks like it's probably a Modiolopsis sp.

Here's an interesting clam shell that has been preserved in brown calcite.

Gastropods (snails)

Snails from the Ordovician are usually preserved as internal molds. In the case of the snail Cyclonema sp,, calcite replaced the original shell so there is actually external shell details on these interesting gastropods. (below).


The most collectable bryozoan colony found today was Constellaria sp. This bryozoan has monticules that are star-shaped. These are common in the Fairview Formation of this site. Take a look at the specimen below.

The Kope and Fairview formations have lots of massive bryozoan colonies. Most of these are in the category we call trepostomate bryozoans. Here's one.

Branching ramose bryozoans formed networks of colonies on the Ordovician sea floor, as evidenced by many of the rock slabs we saw, such as this one.

Here's a really nice assemblage of Ordovician animals found that day on a different road cut just up the street from our field trip site that a member discovered on his way. It's a brachiopod called Rafinesquina sp with some epizoans (attaching animals).

This particular epizoan is an Edrioasteroid, probably Carneyella sp.

The other two epizoans are inarticulate brachiopods of an unusual species - Schizocrania filosa.

That's all for this field trip. I hope you enjoyed it. Join us in the fall for our first field trip of the season on September 28, 2019

Here are photos of our previous visits to this awesome site.


September 2005

April 2005


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