Geology & Fossils
A major reason for the park's existence is the Devonian fossil beds. This page focuses on the geology, fossils and collecting. The interactive brochures allow you to identify Devonian fossils of the Falls area. Our long-term goal is to create identification guides to fossils of the Falls area - ranging from Upper Ordovician to Middle Mississippian.
Information about outcrops along road cuts that are generally well-known and frequently visited by fossil collectors. Most are reliable sources for fossils, though if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind rare specimen, here like anywhere, luck and a keen pair of eyes is necessary.
Fossil Bed Identification Guide
How do I identify fossils on the fossil beds? This page has photos of many of the fossils you can see. Others are in the Virtual Field Trip (see link on the panel to the left).
Devonian Brachiopods of the Falls of the Ohio and Surrounding Area
An interactive guide to Devonian brachiopods
Devonian Corals of the Falls of the Ohio and Surrounding Areas
An interactive guide to Devonian corals
Devonian Crinoids and Blastoids of the Falls of the Ohio...
An interactive guide to Devonian echinoderms
Devonian Mollusks of the Falls of the Ohio and Surrounding Areas
An interactive guide to Devonian snails, clams and other mollusks
Devonian Trilobites of the Falls of the Ohio and Surrounding Areas
A guide to Devonian trilobites
Pseudofossils - Rocks that look like fossils (but aren't)
An illustrated guide to common rocks that resemble life forms (or parts of things that lived).
All our on-line brochures are searchable with web search engines!
This brochure is for visitors to use when they explore the fossil beds.
Print out this brochure to use when exploring the upper or lower fossil beds.
What is a brachiopod? How does it differ from a clam? What Devonian brachiopods are found in the Falls area? This brochure answers all those questions and contains a list of Devonian brachiopods documented here.
Are Fossils Important?
How do fossils help us understand the world around us? This brochure explores that question.
What types of corals are found at the Falls of the Ohio? What are 'rugose' and 'tabulate' corals? What features distinguish Devonian corals? How many species of coral have been documented? Find out here!
Crinoids & Blastoids
Crinoids and blastoids are the dominant echinoderm found in the fossil record at the Falls of the Ohio. The bodies are relatively rare, the columns (stems) are very common. Sometimes called "Indian Beads," these are common in the upper fossil beds. This brochure describes both type of echinoderms and lists species reported in the area.
The "other" ancient shells found in the Devonian rocks at the Falls include clams, snails, cephalopods, and rostroconchs. This brochure describes the various classes of mollusks and lists the species than have been described.
This brochure is designed to be used standing in front of our Silurian - Devonian diorama. It explains the geological history of the Devonian patch reef - the lower fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio.
Pebbles on the river bank come in a variety of colors, hues and patterns. But where did they come from... originally? This brochure discusses the origin - sometimes thousands of miles away, sometimes within the Falls area - of the river pebbles along the river's edge.
Ancient bug-like arthropods, trilobites are widely distributed in the Devonian formations in the Falls area. This brochure describes trilobites and lists species found here.
The Paleontological Society Fossil Brochures
A selection of brochures (PDFs)
Unless otherwise indicated, articles are written by Alan Goldstein.
Distribution of Paleozoic Corals in the United States
Are there rugose or tabulate corals in your state? Find out with this state-by-state list of coral genera
Differentiating Devonian Favosites and subgenus Emmonsia
This article describes the differences between these two common Devonian tabulate corals.
Field Trip Planner: A Guide for Geology Groups of All Types
Planning a field trip that includes stops at mines and other private lands? This guide focuses on planning logistics to have a professional, smooth-running trip.
How Many Different Devonian Fossils Are Found at the Falls of the Ohio?
This brief article breaks down the different groups of fossils into numbers of species. This list extends beyond the National Wildlife Conservation Area, including the Devonian exposures in the counties surround the Falls.
Curating Your Fossil or Mineral Collection
Should you collect? What information is important in a geological collection? What does one need to do if they want to donate a collection to a museum?
Microfossils of the Salem Limestone
Focuses on the diverse fossil fauna of the Middle Mississippian Salem Limestone. This formation stretches from Indiana south to Kentucky and west into Illinois, Missouri and Iowa. Indiana Building Stone is composed of uncountable numbers of microscopic fossils. This article describes them and lists the described species.
Tools for Geological Collecting: A Checklist
Basic information about the tools needed to plan a trip to collect fossils and minerals.
Geology A Living Stage of Our Past, Present & Future by Robert Lillie, Allyson Mathis and Roger Riolo, published in Legacy magazine (National Association for Interpretation)
The Role of Paleontologists in Teacher Education Today
An article written for and presented at Dinofest International 1998, published for the first time.
Source Rock for Petroleum
A short article by geologist Mark Wood about how petroleum is formed.
The Coral Ridge Fauna
Reprinted and updated article (originally published in 1992) describing the pyrite-replaced fossils of the Coral Ridge Member of the New Providence Shale (Middle Mississippian). Includes a list of species and photos.
The History of Land Plants
Explore the history of land plants through a temporary exhibit displayed in the Interpretive Center Autumn 2009.
The Wondrous Geode!
Based on a temporary exhibit at the Falls of the Ohio in 2000, this online exhibit explores the origin of Midwestern U.S. geodes found in sedimentary rock and the variety of minerals that may be observed.
Check out our fossil albums on Facebook, and our interactive fossil brochures (above).
Updated February 25, 2014