The Poricy Brook Fossil Beds are well known to fossil collectors in the Northeast in Middletown, New Jersey. The fossils are from the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, 145 to 65 million years ago. Although the dinosaurs were at their peak, the first mammals and birds had begun to appear. Tree ferns, ginkos, and pines were being joined by flowering plants like oak, magnolia, and grass.
During the Cretaceous period, the area of Poricy Brook in New Jersey, and the rest of the Atlantic Coastal Plain was a shallow ocean. When the ocean animals died, they were buried in the bottom. While their soft parts decayed, the harder parts, like bones, teeth, and shells, were preserved. Over millions of years, the ocean level rose and fell to form different layers of deposits with the remains of different animals. The layer exposed by the cutting action of Poricy Brook is called the Navesink Formation and is approximately 72 million years old.
Although fossils of many animals have been found in the Poricy Brook Fossil Beds, most are of shellfish.
Visiting the Fossil Beds
The Poricy Park Fossil Beds are located on Middletown-Lincroft Road in Middletown, NJ across from Crawford Road. There is no access to the Fossil Beds from the main entrance to Poricy Park on Oak Hill Road.
Please note these guidelines before you visit our fossil beds:
• Poricy Brook is a natural flowing stream and we cannot be responsible for fluctuations in stream depth and conditions. We regularly inspect and maintain the area to keep it as safe as possible.
• Wear old clothes, sneakers, or boots, as you’ll be hunting in the stream-bed. We recommend bringing a towel and a change of shoes or clothes. Flip-flops, slip-on footwear, and bare feet are prohibited.
• Use trowels and screens. Rock hammers, picks, shovels and excavating tools are not allowed. You will be asked to leave if such equipment is in use.
• The stream continuously exposes new fossils, so feel free to take home a few of your best finds. Please limit yourself to five fossils. Remember to bring a small container or bag!
• A picnic area is located at the Nature Center. You are welcome to return here to have a picnic lunch outside (we have no indoor lunch facilities).
• Please leave the Fossil Beds and the picnic area clean and litter free.
• Though fossils may be found lying loose along the stream, the best way to find them is by sifting the sand and gravel of the stream bed.
• Do not climb on the banks. They are steep, slippery and hazardous in some areas.
• Please do not dig in the stream banks, even though you may see holes dug by others. This action hastens erosion of the banks and does not yield the number of fossils which digging in the stream bed does.
If you would like to schedule a group visit to the fossil beds, please contact the Middletown Recreation Department for details.