With hammers swinging and chisels chipping, fossils were being uncovered along the roadside of County Highway 62.

Just down the hill from Illinois Valley Community College, two out-of-towners were digging their way into limestone in search of different types of specimen.

“It’s like a fishing hole. Nobody wants to tell you where they’re finding them,” said Ralph Jewell of Aurora, who hunts for different fossils around the area. Jewell said he, unlike some others, tries to let other people know about good spots to search in on The Fossil Forum. It’s how he came into contact with Kim Pervis who is from Dallas and was on her way up to Oshkosh, Wis., before stopping in the area to hunt with Jewell.

“That’s one nice thing with the forum is you meet a lot of people,” Jewell said.

And after 25 minutes of looking, the pair had found a few different items such as brachiopods from the Pennsylvanian period. Jewell said what they were uncovering was from about 310 million years ago.

“You find shark teeth here too,” he said.

Jewell said he found Pristis teeth and confirmed it with a paleontologist with a local connection. Stephen Brusatte, now a chancellor’s fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, was born in Ottawa and is an Ottawa High School graduate. “I sent him a picture to see if he could confirm what it was,” Jewell said, adding Brusatte got back to him quickly with a confirmation.

Brett Herrmann can be reached at (815) 220-6933 or svreporter@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SpringValley. 


NewsTribune Online Editor covering Spring Valley and Dalzell. Contact him at (815) 220-6933 or svreporter@newstrib.com

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