Kingston Area History – Geology and Prehistoric Times
The Geological and Biological Legacy of the Hudson Valley
Precambrian to Paleozoic Eras (Over 540 Million Years Ago – Around 252 Million Years Ago): The Hudson Valley’s geologic history is a tale that spans over a billion years. The earliest rocks, primarily shale and sandstone, were formed during the Ordovician Period and can be found between Newburgh and Kingston. This vast, ancient landscape experienced the formation and erosion of mountain ranges, sediment deposition, and the fluctuation of shallow seas. Marine life thrived during this time, leaving behind fossils and sedimentary rocks that are still visible today.
Mesozoic Era (Around 252 to 66 Million Years Ago): The Hudson Valley underwent significant tectonic shifts during this era. Situated within the broader context of the supercontinent Pangaea, rift basins formed as Pangaea began to fragment. A sequence of sedimentary and volcanic rocks, accumulated in these basins. Dinosaurs like Coelophysis and Anchisaurus once roamed the region, leaving behind traces of their existence.
Cenozoic Era (Around 66 Million Years Ago – Present): The Hudson Valley’s landscape continued to evolve during the Cenozoic Era. Influenced by the opening of the Atlantic Ocean, the region experienced erosion, sediment deposition, and the sculpting hand of glaciers during the Ice Ages. These glaciers carved out the Hudson River Valley, depositing sediments like till, sand, and gravel that we can see along many waterways today.
Paleozoic Era: In the ancient seas of the Hudson Valley during the Paleozoic, a diverse array of marine life flourished. Brachiopods, trilobites, and early fish dominated the seas. The region’s periodic submergence and uplift due to tectonic activity created a dynamic environment for these species.
Mesozoic Era: The late Triassic to early Jurassic periods saw the presence of dinosaurs like Coelophysis, Podokesaurus, and Anchisaurus. The sedimentary layers of the Newark Supergroup provide insights into the ecosystems of the time, including evidence of reptiles, amphibians, and early mammals.
Cenozoic Era: With the opening of the Atlantic Ocean, marine life evolved in response to the shifting coastlines. The region became part of North America’s broader terrestrial ecosystems. The Pleistocene Ice Ages’ glaciers influenced the landscape and the distribution of plants and animals.
Modern Era: The Hudson Valley is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, reflecting its varied landscape of mountains, forests, rivers, and wetlands.
Flora: The Hudson Valley is home to over 2,000 plant species, including trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and ferns. Some of the most common trees in the region include oak, maple, pine, and hemlock. Common wildflowers include violets, daisies, and lilies.
Fauna: The Hudson Valley is also home to a variety of animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Some of the most common mammals in the region include deer, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. Common birds include hawks, owls, ducks, and geese. Reptiles and amphibians include turtles, snakes, and frogs. Fish species in the Hudson River include salmon, shad, and striped bass.
The Hudson Valley’s flora and fauna are facing a number of challenges, including habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. However, there are a number of organizations working to protect the region’s natural heritage like Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, and others.
Here is a more detailed article from Hudson Valley Magazine: https://hvmag.com/life-style/hudson-valley-dinosaurs/