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the Ordovician - 490 to 443 Million Years Ago

World Paleogeography and Paleoclimate: From the Early to Middle Ordovician, the earth experienced a milder climate. Siberia and Baltica were separate, and the two continents moved north toward Laurentia (North America). Avalonia split from the northern margin of Gondwana, while the rest of that large continent (the future South America, Australia, Africa, India, and Antarctica) moved south over the South Pole. As Gondwana reached the South Pole during the Late Ordovician, massive glaciers began to form, causing sea level to drop.

North American Paleogeography: During the Ordovician, Laurentia was located near the equator while it rotated about 45° counter-clockwise, closer to its present orientation. A shallow sea covered most of the continent, depositing limestones, shales, and sandstones. However, by the Middle Ordovician, its southern margin (now the East Coast) was uplifted due to a collision with an island arc. Glaciation at the end of the Ordovician resulted in a drop in sea level, so some rocks deposited earlier were exposed and eroded.

Paleontology: The Ordovician fossil record contains a diversity of marine invertebrates, including graptolites, trilobites, brachiopods, and conodonts (early vertebrates). A typical marine community consisted of these animals, plus red and green algae, early fish, cephalopods, corals, crinoids, and gastropods. A drop in sea level may have contributed to the mass extinctions that characterized the end of the Ordovician, in which perhaps 60% of all marine invertebrate genera went extinct.

North America Today

While geologic activity has removed or covered up many Ordovician rocks, they can be found below the surface in many states, and are exposed in places like the Great Basin (Nevada and Utah), the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains, New England, the Great Lake States from Ohio to Minnesota, and in many other states. Ordovician rocks also occur in many Canadian provinces and in a few areas in northwestern Mexico.

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Links to more about the Ordovician

Collecting and Legalities | Careers | Research and Collections | Organizations | Education and Exhibits | Research and Collections | Resources

Collecting and Legalities

Where to Collect Fossils (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center: A natural history center, where visitors can collect their own trilobites. The web page includes information on how to get to the site, fossils which can be found there, and other information.

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Careers

Degree and Certificate Programs (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Montana State University- Earth Sciences: Train to be a paleontologist in the MSU Undergraduate and Graduate Paleontology Programs. The Earth Sciences Department at MSU caters to both paleobiology and taphonomy interests.

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Research and Collections

(showing 1 of 1 listings)

The Natural History Museum, London's conodont collection: This database gives broad information about discrete collections within the conodont collection housed at the NHM. Generic, specific and subspecific names are included in the database, but the data is being updated regularly. As a result, the database is best searched by name of donor/collector/publisher or by geological period. Links to images are included with some collections.

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Organizations

Societies and Clubs (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Cincinnati Dry Dredgers: Website of the Cincinnati Dry Dredgers, an association of amateur geologists and fossil collectors

KYANA Geological Society - Louisville, Kentucky: We are a non-profit educational organization, which was founded in 1961, to promote the interests of geology, minerals, fossils, and lapidary arts in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

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Museums (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Burpee Museum of Natural History: The mission of Burpee Museum of Natural History is to inspire all people to engage in a lifetime of learning about the natural world.

Garvies Point Museum official website: Garvies Point Museum and Preserve is located on Long Island's north shore in New York State. We are a center for regional geology research. Our exhibits deal with regional (Long Island and New York State) geology, fossilization and minerology and the ehnography and archaeology of northeastern Native Americans. Our exhibit "Drifitng Lands and Ancient Seas" details the geology of New York State coordinated with plate tectonics. 

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Education and Exhibits

Virtual Exhibits (showing 3 of 6 listings)

The Gray Fossil Site: Located in the Valley-and-Ridge province in East Tennessee, near the community of Gray, this site includes vertebrate bones, aquatic invertebrates, leaf imprints, organic debris, botanicals, compressed wood, charcoal, and more. This web exhibit offers images and detailed explanations of the site's features.

Virtual Museum of Fossils: Geosciences, at Georgia's Valdosta State University, presents an interactive virtual museum of invertebrate and vertebrate fossil specimens. Explore the collection by animal, or by time period from Precambrian to Quaternary. Maps are detailed and include ecosystem distribution. Fossil photographs, many showing multiple views, list information about where the fossil was found, and how it is categorized taxonomically. Some pages feature a drawing of the animal's skeleton showing the fossil bone in red.

The Third Planet - a walk through geologic time: This virtual exhibit offers a tour of the Milwaukee Public Museum's geology exhibits, depicting the continuing evolution of the Earth from the Precambrian to present.

More Virtual Exhibits

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Research and Collections

Researchers (showing 3 of 3 listings)

University of Iowa Paleontology Repository: The UI Paleontology Repository is home to over a million fossils from all over the world and from all time periods, and is used for research and teaching. We also provide education services, hands-on tours around the collections and geology exhibits for schools and community groups, and fossil identification and collection care services.

Dr. Thomas W. Kammer: Specialty: Evolutionary paleoecology of Paleozoic crinoids, plus lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, and sequence stratigraphy of marine Mississippian rocks in the east-central United States. Field areas include West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa.

Paleobotany and Palynology at the Florida Museum of Natural History: The Paleobotany and Palynology Collection at the Florida Museum of Natural History is international in scope, including collections from 47 countries. Systematically the greatest strength of the collection is in Cretaceous-Tertiary angiosperms.

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Ongoing Research Projects (showing 3 of 4 listings)

Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History: On the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman. One of the finest university-based museums in the nation, with an active Paleontology research program and extensive collections. 

Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, UT: The University of Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory houses one of the 10 largest collections in North America, and it supports one of the Nation's largest graduate education programs in paleontology. It also supports public exhibits at the Texas Memorial Museum.

Geologic Overview of the Trenton Group at West Canada Creek, New York: This is an NSF funded website that focuses on Charles Walcott's and Tom Whiteley's collections from the Trenton Falls area that are reposited in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. The website covers the Social History, Geology, and Paleontology of the area. The geologic setting and the sedimentary geology are covered in detail and the paleontology section includes descriptions and photographs of fossil specimens.

More Ongoing Research Projects

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Resources

Maps (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Paleogeography and Geologic Evolution of North America: The images presented here show the paleogeography of North America over the last 550 million years of geologic history.

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Courses and Lectures (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Paleogeography of the Southwestern U.S.: The paleogeography of the southwestern U.S. from 1.8 billion years ago to 10 million years ago. Text and images by Dr. Ron Blakey from Northern Arizona University.

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Field Guides (showing 3 of 5 listings)

Cincinnati Fossils: This site lists all fossil taxa described or reported from the type Cincinnatian strata (Upper Ordovician) of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, including mollusks, arthropods, echinoderms, brachiopods, and many other groups.

Fossil Cephalopods in Utah: A reference to help provide information on the identity, biostratigraphy and location of fossil cephalopods found in the state of Utah.

Ordovician fossils of the Nashville, Tennessee region: Site lists the reported fossils from Middle and Upper Ordovician rocks of the Nashville Dome in central Tennessee.

More Field Guides

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Image Collections (showing 3 of 4 listings)

Michigan Basin Specimen Database: This site showcases Michigan Basin fossils from the private collections of Friends of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology and select specimens from the University of Michigan collection, including type specimens.

Some Fossil Brachiopods: Images of several fossil brachiopods, dating in geologic age from early Cambrian to Pleistocene, with explanatory text.

Ordovician Fossils in Ogle County, Illinois: An amateur collection of fossils gathered at various sites in Illinois, primarily Ordovician.

More Image Collections

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Databases (showing 3 of 4 listings)

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Web-based Paleo-database Home Page: Search the fossil collections of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Listings by Kingdom down to species, era, epoch, group, formation, country, New Mexico county, and map ID. Many listings contain images of the fossils (including all holotypes.) 

The Paleointegration Project: The PaleoIntegration Project (PIP) is facilitating interoperability between global-scale fossil and sedimentary rock databases (e.g. The Paleobiology Database and the Paleogeographic Atlas Project), enabling a greater understanding of the life, geography and climate of our planet throughout the Phanerozoic. Databases can be searched via text and interactive maps, and by any combination of age, location, or content. Results can be plotted on present- and paleo- maps or downloaded for detailed analyses.

Fossils in My Back Yard: Explore a geologic map of Iowa, county by county, to see lists and photos of fossils in the collections of the University of Iowa Paleontology Repository.

More Databases

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Annotated Bibliographies (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Bibliography of Paleobotany: A bibliographic database of paleobotany including more than 56,000 entries. It also includes references on Antarctic geology and paleontology and citations on Women in Science.

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General Reference (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Fossils In Death Valley National Park: The paleontology, geology and natural wonders of Death Valley National Park (and more); many images of fossils; field trips; paleontology links, plus links to Death Valley.

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