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November 11, 2012 - 9:46pm

Photos: Fossil hunting in Bethany

posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Bethany.

Driving back from Genesee County Park this afternoon, Billie and I headed down Francis Road and spotted a man on the side of a cliff digging. It wasn't hard to guess what he was doing, so I stopped to talk with him. Yup, Bob Lann, of Spencerport, was digging for fossils.

What I didn't know is that this old railroad cut in Bethany is recognized as a good spot for fossil hunting.

Lann is a veterinarian and amateur fossil hunter. This was his first trip to Bethany.

Based on a little Google search, I came across a fossil hunting blog by James Heaney. He says Western New York -- and Lann said this, too -- is a great place for fossil hunting, especially from the pre-dinosaur ages. A guy named Robert Eaton also has information online about fossils in the Genesee region.

Below, Lann displays portions of a trilobite he found today and a bit of coral.

Doug Yeomans
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I love fossil hunting and realized how good the digs can be in Bethany when I moved here in 2003. A lot of digging had to be done in my lawn and I found all kinds of goodies, especially fossilized sea shells. The stone from local quarries often has coral in it and I find it in my driveway. I'm not knowledgeable enough to date what I've found but I still enjoy finding these things and realizing that at one point in time, this was a sea bed.

Nice find, Howard.

Kyle Couchman
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Brachiopods (the seashells) Trilobites and coral are generally index fossils and they indicate an age of 300 to 600 million yrs. (I was amateur fossil collector too :) ) Our area is mostly silurian to devonian shale and limestone. Especially in this county Just fyi

Doug Yeomans
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Thanks for the info, Kyle. Here's some info on the silurian/devonian period. http://tapestry.usgs.gov/ages/silurdevon.html

I love this part - During the Devonian, land plants grew into the first forests, and the first vertebrate animals colonized the land. At this time, North America was attached to Europe in a large landmass situated at the equator.

Sandra Sterling...
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Up to the 1950's there were large rocks in Austin Park. They contained many fossils. It is sad the city chose to remove them. It was a great learning tool for city children. Would love to know where they went.

Deborah Patt
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Can you tell me where, In East Bethany this is located , and is it still open to the public? Do we need to get permission from someone to fossil hunt there?

Howard B. Owens
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It's off Frances Road, if I remember correctly ... next to a rail line. I'm not sure who owns the property. It may be CSX property. It's not posted.

Greg Crawford
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I own property on Francis Rd. and was amazed at the number and variety of fossils we found when we dug a trench for a power line. We also noticed that most of the larger rocks were deeply scored, I assume from glacial action.

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