Fossils are the remains of once-living organisms – plants and animals. Animals usually had hard parts such as teeth, bone or a shell that has been preserved in the rock we see today. If the animal had a backbone the fossil would be in the vertebrate category because we would mostly find the fossil bones or teeth of those animals. If the animal had a shell with soft body parts but no backbone then that fossil would be classified as an invertebrate fossil. The majority of fossils found in Arkansas are invertebrate fossils.

Fossils can also consist of leaf imprints or fossil tree sections (such as trunks, roots or branches). In some rocks only the tracks, burrows and trails or traces of the animal were preserved. Plant fossils and trace fossils are included on the invertebrate fossil page.

All of the fossils mentioned thus far are considered macrofossils or fossils that can be seen with the naked eye. The rocks in Arkansas also contain microfossils or fossils that can only be seen with the aid of a microscope. Only macrofossils will be discussed herein. This is meant to be an introduction to the common fossils that may be found in Arkansas with pictures to use as an identification tool.

PDF Collecting Fossils

If you need more assistance to identify a fossil, feel free to email or

Click on the drawings below to learn more about invertebrate fossils, plant fossils and trace fossils.

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