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Fossil Bed Hotbed on Oregon Coast Right Now - Where to Look

Published 02/21/21 at 6:26 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Fossil Bed Hotbed on Oregon Coast Right Now - Where to Look

(Oregon Coast) – Right now parts of the Oregon coast are a hotbed of ancient rock beds, creating not just prime agate hunting possibilities but lots of fossil finds as well. (Above: fossils at Fogarty Beach occasionally show every few years)

It won’t last long, as tidal action is starting to diminish. However, a good run of small storms and sneaker wave situations took place earlier this month that kept sand levels from rising, after bigger storms and king tides scoured out many beaches until they were down to bedrock.

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This bedrock is extremely old – some 15 to 18 million years old on the north coast, but farther south you’re looking at 20 to 30 million years old. Thus, the fossilized skeletons found here average about that old.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection received a bevy of beach reports in recent weeks, indicating places like the Nelscott area of Lincoln City were down to the bone, as well as Moolack Beach at Newport, some areas south of Cannon Beach and Ocean Beach Picnic Ground near Florence (the latter according to CoastWatch). It’s not certain that all these are still showing the underside of the beach, however.

Feel a need to go fossil hunting? Now is the time to check those beaches. They’ll also likely yield good agates.


Other spots to look for? See Seal Rock and Ona Beach near Waldport; Sunset Bay near Coos Bay; McPhillips Beach just north of Cape Kiwanda; Harris Beach near Brookings; Arch Cape and Hug Point near Cannon Beach, Bob Creek and Stonefield Beach near Yachats, Fogarty Beach near Depoe Bay and more.

Fossil heaven at Moolack Beach, Newport

It’s IMPORTANT to remember it is against the law to dig anything out of the ground that you see: you can only pick them up off the beaches. If you see exposed bed rock and objects embedded in them, it’s a good bet you’ll find the good stuff just lying around.

Perhaps the king of fossil finds on the Oregon coast is Moolack Beach near Newport, where those ancient treasures are visible year-round. But when winter sand levels drop because of storms, the bed rock here is especially generous.

What kinds of fossils can you find on the Oregon coast? The Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport put out the ultimate guide to this, written by local fossil expert Guy DiTorrice (now retired and sadly no longer living on the coast, however).

A lot of the common fossil finds are variations of clams, the most common of which is the Anadara devincta. These look somewhat like today’s cockles. Katherinella angustri is another, which has a broad and smooth shell, often found translucent like an agate.

Agatized, translucent snail shell

Crepidula praerupta is a trippy find, as described by DiTorrice. It has a clawlike appearance. These creatures, now long extinct, formed colonies by linking to each other and moving together. This must’ve been a wild sight, fit for that British sci-fi show Primeval.

Acila conradi has that distinctive chevron pattern, definitely related to scallops we now find. This is one of the most prolific sights along the beaches, where you’ll find them embedded just about everywhere. You see in the photo at the very top there’s at least three jammed into that glob of rock, found at Fogarty Beach just north of Depoe Bay.

Various kinds of snails are all over the place as well, with squiggly or semi-circle shapes showing these ancient skeletons at odd angles and cutaway sections.

Also frequently found are bits of wood known as teredo. They usually show up as black or brown rocks, write DiTorrice.

“Usually rounded at the ends with a “Swiss cheese” look to them,” DiTorrice writes. “Fossilized casings from the Teredo marine clam created the pattern when the Teredo, in its larval form, ate its way through chunks of ancient wood. These colonies of small larvae never cross each other’s borings, making each piece unique in design and appearance.”

Another prime example of this is one lodged in a wall at Hug Point, seen here. It’s fossilized but doesn’t have all the boring marks on it like many types of teredo do.

Other types of fossils include actual bones or even fossilized leaf impressions – all of them a glimpse into this world millions and millions of years ago. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

See Wild Things Embedded in the Rocks of Oregon Coast: Fossils Ahead and Below for more reference

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Bed rock at Moolack

Bed rock near Cape Kiwanda

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