Connecting the environment of the ancient past with the natural and cultural history of yesterday and today.



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.

Collecting Fossils

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!

Discovering Fossils

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.


Ancient Shells-Brachiopods

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.

Patch Reef

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.

River Pebbles

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)



Geology Articles

Unless otherwise indicated, articles are written by Alan Goldstein.


Interaction Among Devonian Sea Life Preserved in the Jeffersonville Limestone NEW!

Evidence of species encrusting, boring and growing in, around and over one another is common among the Devonian fossils. What can we find? What does it tell us about life in the past?

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)



Paleontology workshop for teachersThe Role of Paleontologists in Teacher Education Today  

An article written for and presented at Dinofest International 1998, published for the first time.



Rock layersSource Rock for Petroleum    

A short article by geologist Mark Wood about how petroleum is formed.



GoniatiteThe 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.


Fiction stories on ancient life can be found on the Kid's Page.


Fossil Exhibits


The History of Land Plants

Explore the history of land plants through a temporary exhibit displayed in the Interpretive Center Autumn 2009.


Calcite geodeThe 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.


The Nature of Shells

The wonder of shelled animals were explored in this 2007 exhibit. Learn about the natural history of the shelled animals that have existed for the last 600+ million years.



Fossil Photos

Check out our fossil albums on Facebook, and our interactive fossil brochures (above).

Information about fossils is available on our extensive Featured Fossil website. The archives have photos and information about species from all time periods found around the world.

Updated July 23, 2015