Fossils of Virginia

     Click the physiographic map to the right for fossils in other parts of Virginia

Virginia geologic cross-section Appalachian Plateau Appalachian Plateau Valley and Ridge Blue Ridge Piedmont Coastal Plain Coastal Plain Coastal Plain
Untitled Document Untitled Document Chesapecten jeffersonius
'Jefferson's Chesapeake Scallop'
Yorktown Formation, Sunken Meadow Member

Untitled Document

This distinctive scallop is the state fossil of Virginia, and is the first fossil described in North America, in 1687. It is commonly found in stream valleys and on river beaches of Southeast Virginia and Eastern North Carolina. This species is the index fossil for the Lower Yorktown Formation. This species is usually distinguished by the number of ribs (9 to 12) and the rather rounded shell edge. Immature scallops attach themselves to the sea floor, whereas adult individuals are free-swimming.

Chesapecten is a lineage of scallops that flourished in the Chesapeake Bay area from Eastover to Yorktown time (about 8 to 3 million years ago). Species dominated during different intervals of time: C. middlesexensis during the Miocene (Eastover Formation); C. jeffersonius during Early Pliocene (Lower Yorktown Formation, about 4.5 to 4.3 million years ago); and C. madisonius during Late Pliocene time (Upper Yorktown Formation, about 4 to 3 million years ago). Other scallops lived at the sametime, but these were the most abundant.