If you’re in Connecticut, you’re in for a treat. This place isn’t just about beautiful landscapes; it’s like a hidden treasure chest if you’re into fossils.
We’re not talking about dinosaur skeletons standing tall and fierce, but their footprints are everywhere! Imagine walking on the same ground as the dinosaurs did millions of years ago. Cool, right?
And it’s not just dino tracks. If you’re lucky and keep your eyes peeled, you might also spot ancient plants and fish fossils!
Anybody can find the stories in rocks and tracks with the right help. No matter how small, each find is a story from the past that we need to see. This article could easily lead you on an exciting trip through Connecticut’s ancient history.
The Fossils Of Connecticut You Can Find
It is possible to find a lot of different types of fossils in Connecticut. So many different kinds of landscapes and fascinating geological pasts make it a fossil hunter’s dream.
For more information on the rocks and minerals in the state, you can read our guide to rockhounding in Connecticut.
Common Connecticut Fossils
Connecticut has a lot of different fossils. You can find these rocks all over the state:
- Dinosaur footprints
- Fish fossils
- Plant fossils
- Trace fossils
Connecticut State Fossil – Eubrontes Giganteus
Eubrontes giganteus tracks, which are big, three-toed dinosaur footprints found in Connecticut, puzzle both scientists and tourists.
Jurassic-era tracks, widely preserved at Dinosaur State Park, show that a huge predator roamed this area before the famous T-Rex.
Although the creature’s exact name is still unknown, its footprints—some of which are over a foot long—offer a fascinating look into the distant past and are still a major focus of paleontological research.
Rare State Fossils
Here are some of Connecticut’s rarest and most expensive fossils. Keep these things in mind as you wander:
- Amphibians and reptiles
- Marine reptiles
- Trace fossils
- Triassic-Jurasic Mammal-like Reptiles
The Best Places To Find Fossils In Connecticut
We will talk about the superb spots in Connecticut where you can discover fossils. To keep things simple, we’ll only talk about our choices. You can find fossils in a lot of other places as well.
Bluff Head is a fascinating place for nature lovers and fossil hunters alike. This tall hill is part of the Metacomet Range, an old mountain range made of traprock that goes from Long Island Sound to almost the border with Vermont.
People like outdoor activities at Bluff Head because it has beautiful views, long hike trails, and interesting geological features.
Bluff Head is a great place to find fossils because of its geological past. The ridge comprises basalt, a type of volcanic rock formed when Pangea broke apart about 200 million years ago.
Large lava flows were caused by this rifting, which is what made the traprock forms we see today.
Where and what to find fossils at the Bluff Head
In some places, fossils from the Triassic and Jurassic periods are still well-preserved in the sedimentary rock between basalt layers.
People who like fossils can find old plant parts like leaves and stems, and sometimes they can find trace fossils like the tracks of small amphibians and reptiles.
The tools every fossil hunter will need
When you're out looking for fossils having the right tools for the job is really going to make or break your success. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.
We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced fossil hunters which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools and kit guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.
Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing. One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.
At a minimum you should have:
1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard
2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set
3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well
4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill
5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable
6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to
7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect
The fossil-finding books that we use most
There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:
We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.
As the largest river in New England, the Connecticut River cuts a path through history that is as deep and winding as its water. This river starts at the border with Canada and flows through four states before it reaches Connecticut.
It gives us a unique look into the worlds that used to live in this area. The layers of soil and stone along its banks hold stories from millions of years ago.
There are a lot of sedimentary layers along the Connecticut River, which makes it a great place to look for fossils. During the Mesozoic era, these layers, especially in the Connecticut River Valley, are left over from when the area was full of lakes and rivers.
Where and what to find fossils at Connecticut River
Trace fossils, like different kinds of dinosaur tracks from animals that walked along the muddy banks of the river millions of years ago, are very common there.
The Eubrontes tracks are the most well-known of these. They were likely made by a meat-eating dinosaur in the Early Jurassic.
It’s not just about dinosaurs, though! Around the Connecticut River, you can also find important plant fossils. These old and seed ferns take us back to lush landscapes from a long time ago and show us the variety of life that lived before the dinosaurs.
Dinosaur State Park is an ancient wonder and is only a short distance from Hartford, the state capital. It’s in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. This secret gem is one of the biggest places in North America to find dinosaur tracks.
Anyone interested in the Earth’s history should go there. The park’s highlight is a well-preserved area that shows a real-life snapshot of a landscape from more than 200 million years ago, complete with real dinosaur tracks.
Besides the footprints, the park is a great place to learn and have fun. It has hands-on exhibits, guided tours, and even places where people can make copies of the dinosaur tracks.
Fossil collecting is not allowed in the park to protect this historic site. However, the park is great for learning and finding new things because it’s so immersive.
Where and what to find fossils at Dinosaur State Park
Not only does Dinosaur State Park have a lot of footprints, but the beauty of their preservation makes it stand out.
The tracks are thought to belong to a dinosaur like Dilophosaurus. They give us a unique, up-close look at how these animals lived in the early Jurassic period.
In central Connecticut, Shuttle Meadow Reservoir is more than just a peaceful place for nature lovers; it’s also a way to learn about rocks. This place has calm waters and beautiful natural scenery.
It’s in a region known for having a lot of sedimentary rock formations, which are fossils that can tell you a lot about the past.
The pond is on top of layers of sediment that have been there for millions of years. It is known that these layers, especially those from the Jurassic time, hold different kinds of fossils.
Shuttle Meadow Reservoir is interesting for fossil hunters because it has both easy access and untapped promise. Looking through rocks is exciting because you never know what you might find next. It’s kind of like nature’s lottery, and people who wait often win!
Where and what to find fossils at Shuttle Meadow Reservoir
If the conditions were right in the past, the sedimentary layers around the pond might hold plant fossils, trace fossils, and maybe even fossils of aquatic species.
Totoket Mountain is a geological wonder for people interested in the old history below our feet.
It’s part of the Metacomet Ridge, which goes from Long Island Sound near New Haven, Connecticut, to the border with Vermont.
This ridge is famous for its rough, rocky terrain and stunning views. It’s not just a great place to go hiking; it’s also a window into the distant past that has been kept in stone.
You need to have a good eye and some luck to find fossils here. They’re not just sitting around, so it’s a bit of a quest!
Where and what to find fossils at Totoket Mountain
Totoket Mountain is mainly made up of basalt, a volcanic rock formed when the area had a lot of volcanic action hundreds of millions of years ago. There are solid rock layers between these basalt layers known to hold many different kinds of fossils.
These sedimentary layers are like pages from a history book that show how people lived during the Jurassic time. They offer the remains of plants, leaves, small animals, and insect tracks.
Other Top Places To Find Connecticut Fossils By Region
After discussing the best places to find fossils, we’ll talk about some other great places in Connecticut. These spots were picked out to assist you.
|Buckland Quarry, Hartford County
|Vertebrates – Anchisaurus
|The Cove, Middlesex County
|Reptile footprints – Anchisauripus, Anomoepus, Argoides, Eubrontes, Grallator, Plesiornis, Sillimanius
|Quinnipiac River, New Haven County
|Pomperaug River, New Haven County
|Sugarloaf Tunnel, New Haven County
|Reptile footprints – Anchisaurus, Batrachopus, Eubrontes, Gigandipus, Grallator, Shepardia; Amphibian footprints
Common Questions About Fossil Hunting In Connecticut
Many fossil hunters who visit Connecticut ask these questions about what they’re looking for.
Can you find megalodon teeth or shark teeth in Connecticut?
Finding Megalodon teeth in Connecticut is highly unlikely, as the geological conditions and history of the area don’t align with the ancient environments where Megalodon typically lived.
As for other types of shark teeth, while it’s not impossible, it’s also not common to find them in Connecticut. The state’s geological conditions and fossil deposition environments don’t particularly favor the preservation of marine fossils like shark teeth.
Is it illegal to collect fossils in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, as in many states, the legality of fossil collecting depends on several factors, including the location, the type of land, the kind of fossils, and the purpose of collecting.
Vertebrate fossils, on the other hand, like dinosaur bones or fossils of mammals, are protected by state and federal rules because they are more valuable to science. Most of the time, you need a scientific permit to gather these.
Before you go fossil hunting in Connecticut, it’s a good idea to check the updated rules of the specific site you plan to visit, whether it’s a state park, local government property, or other types of public land.
If in doubt, contacting local agencies, such as the state’s geological survey or natural resources department, can provide guidance.
Can you find dinosaur bones in Connecticut?
Connecticut is known for its dinosaur tracks rather than its dinosaur bones. The geography of the state doesn’t help bones stay in good shape.
Bones are usually found in layers of sedimentary rock that were formed in places like lakes, rivers, and seas. Because of its long geological past, Connecticut’s rock record is mostly made up of metamorphic and igneous rocks.
Our Favorite Places To Buy Fossils In Connecticut
In Connecticut, you can buy rocks and other minerals at a number of rock shops. They are good places to look if you want to start gathering fossils or add to what you already have.
- Borrowed Time Emporium – 352 Main St, Durham, CT 06422, United States
- Curious Goods New Age Shop – 417 Campbell Ave, West Haven, CT 06516, United States
- Into the Woods – 106 Bridge Rd, Haddam, CT 06438, United States
- Mother Earth Gallery – 449 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776, United States
- Nature’s Art Village – 1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike, Oakdale, CT 06370, United States
- New Insights Boutique – 111 Church Hill Rd, Sandy Hook, CT 06482, United States
- Polaris Crystals – 438 Howe Ave, Shelton, CT 06484, United States
- Rock Garden – 17 S Main St, Branford, CT 06405, United States