|from Calvert County web site
"Calvert Cliffs is located in the largest fossil-bearing deposit of Miocene marine sediments exposed on the East Coast of North America. These sediments were laid down 10 to 20 million years ago during the Miocene Epoch, when the Atlantic Coast was repeatedly submerged beneath the sea. Studies of fossil animals and plants indicate that in those times, a warm shallow ocean covered this area. Cypress swamps lined the shore. A river wound slowly toward the sea through sand dunes dotted with scrub oak and pine. The climate was somewhat warmer than now. Shells and bones of dead animals sank to the bottom of the sea and were buried in sand and mud, building up over many thousands of years layer upon layer of fossil deposits. Millions of years later, the ocean retreated and what once was sea bottom is now exposed in the cliff face.
The cliffs are continually eroded by wave action which undercuts the base, by landslides and by storms and frost. Fossils falling into the surf are tossed around, cleaned, and then cast back on shore. Virtually all the shark teeth and the fossil bones and shells found on the beach wash or weather out of the cliffs.
Calvert Cliffs extend for more than 30 miles from just north of Chesapeake Beach to Drum Point, rising in places to more than 100 feet in height. Three major intervals of deposition are represented. Sediments deposited during the earliest interval make up the Calvert Formation, which includes the bluish clay the lowest one-fourth of the cliff in the vicinity of Scientists' Cliffs. The Choptank Formation, deposited later, includes the yellow sands and clays in the higher levels of our cliffs. The youngest formation, the St. Mary's, lies farther south; it isn't found at Scientists' Cliffs. The formations dip toward the southeast at an average rate of about 11 feet per mile. "
Most of the fossils found at Calvert Cliffs are shark teeth. For pictures of shark teeth, click here. Public access to the cliffs and beaches is possible at Calvert Cliffs State Park, five miles north of Solomons on Maryland Route 4 with wooded nature trails leading to the beach, Flag Ponds Nature Park (fee) provides access to the beaches, or one may collect at Matoaka Cottages, Calvert Beach, just east of St. Leonard.
The Calvert Marine Museum
The Calvert Marine Museum is an interesting place where you can see many fossils collected at Calvert Cliffs. The museum has three areas of interest, Miocene paleontology, estuarine life in the local waters and regional maritime history. This eclectic mission leads to a wide variety of exhibit items and activities from a display of antique outboards to models of typical bay work boats to full size displays of log canoes and Bay work boats. There is a transplanted screw pile lighthouse, Drum Point Lighthouse, that you can tour at various times of the day to see how the lighthouse keeper and his family lived, from the cozy kitchen and bedrooms, to the winding staircase leading to the fresnel lens. The museum is also in possession of the Cove Point lighthouse, a picturesque and currently functioning lighthouse several miles from the main campus of the museum. They even have an otter tank with two very playful residents.
The museum also has an active program in preserving wooden boat building skills. There is a small craft shed next to the main boat building and a ship modeling shop. These are open weekdays. In the display shed, the museum has a number of restored work boats and in the boat basin are restored boats, including a converted bugeye that sails daily and a draketail fishing boat.
The paleontology exhibits at the Calvert Marine Museum include original fossils of all the known groups of sea shelled animals that occur in the Miocene deposits of Calvert Cliffs, as well as the remains of vertebrate species (sharks, fish, whales, land animals, etc.) from this prehistoric time.
An orientation film playing continuously in the theatre introduces the visitor to all the opportunities at the museum. The museum is open daily 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Entrance fees are $5.00, $4.00 for seniors. Tours of Cove Point Lighthouse and grounds and sailing on the bugeye William B. Tennison are extra.