Welcome to the Penn Dixie Site

At Penn Dixie, you can walk on the site of a former quarry operation that was once the source of calcareous shale excavated and used for cement aggregate by the Penn Dixie Cement Company.  During the 1960ís, 9 to 10 feet of shale was removed revealing 380 million year old Devonian era fossils preserved within the Windom Shale.

WHAT ARE FOSSILS?

A fossil is any hardened remains or traces of plant or animal life of some previous geologic period, preserved in rock formations in the earthís crust.

HOW WERE THE FOSSILS AT THE PENN DIXIE SITE FORMED?

The fossils found at the site were marine creatures (trilobites, brachiopods, corals etc.) that thrived at the bottom of a shallow tropical sea (the area was at that time 20 to 30 degrees south of the equator).

The creatures died and were buried by mud, which eventually transformed to shale.

Fossils were formed in four steps:

1) After the creature died, the normal decay process removed the soft tissues, leaving behind the hard parts such as shell or skeleton.  These hard parts are buried in sediments of limestone, clay, sand or gravel.

2) As time passed, other sediments built up over the buried remains.  Eventually the pressure of the overlying sediments, heat or chemical action changed the sediment to rock.

3) Over 380 million years, the surface of the earth was uplifted and the waters retreated leaving the rocks high and dry.

4) As the uplift or exposure continued, rain, wind and ice began to erode the rock, exposing the once buried fossils at the surface.

WHAT WILL I DO WHEN I VISIT?

You will be digging into the shale at the northern end of the site.  A small digging tool and pail along with an identification card are all you will need to carry with you today.

HOW CAN I PRESERVE MY FOSSILS?

Gently clean the fossil with a small brush. To help preserve fragile fossils, mix equal parts of water and Elmerís glue. Brush the mixture all over the fossil and it will dry to a protective covering.

Tour guides will be with you to answer any questions you have.

If you enjoy your visit and would like to return again, please ask a tour guide for a schedule of site events.  Also, they can tell you about membership in the Hamburg Natural History Society - where members can visit the site free any time they desire.


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Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center is owned and operated by the Hamburg Natural History Society, Inc.,
P.O. Box 772, Hamburg, New York 14075
(716) 627-4560. Fax: (716) 627-4571

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