By ranking the number of dig sites, number of specimen types, and average artifact age, Excel Pest Services has named Monmouth County the top place in New Jersey to find fossils.

A study by the company, which operates in New Jersey and Florida, published last month put Monmouth far out in front in the first two categories — 88 dig sites, whereas Gloucester County ranked second with 18, and 284 fossil types, with Morris coming in second at 88.

Monmouth County was third in terms of average age of fossils at 57,572,006 years, behind Gloucester (63,276,016) and Burlington (58,241,176).

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Excel said its study included fossils of all species, from dinosaurs down to sea creatures and insects.

The data also show the most likely period of fossils to be found in each county that was ranked. For instance, "mosasaurs," marine reptiles that grew as long as 50 feet, are the predominant type in Monmouth County. They lived in the Cretaceous-Paleocene period, from 135 to 66 million years ago, according to the study.

Sussex and Warren counties are home to some of the oldest fossils, trilobites, which are an extinct forerunner of arthropods that date back to the Cambrian period of 521 million years ago, Excel said.

There are specimens that still resemble animals that might be seen in present day, as the study found fossils of echinoderms such as starfish and sea urchins in Ocean County.

Only two counties were off the board completely, Cape May and Union.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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