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The Unexpected



September 6, 2009

It happens in all areas of life. Yet, sometimes the unexpected is manifested in remarkable circumstances. Last January, Dan and I were scrambling across a rocky bar in a Texas stream. To help keep our focus during a cold downpour and intermittent showers, we joked with various sandstone "fossils" we picked up. The erosive nature of water and gravel creates thousands of pseudofossils, and we were finding them with frequency. "Hey Dan, here's your mammoth tooth! Catch!" (Please do not try this at home.)

"Yeah, yeah, and this must be your sabre-tooth fang!" So it went until we had scoured the midstream rock bar. Walking back to the canoe, I grabbed another, algae covered piece of sandstone and held it up toward him.


"What do you think this is?" I jested. Without missing a beat in time, he blurted, "Tetrameryx shuleri!" We both laughed at the green check mark shaped formation.

As I pictured the weird-horned, pleistocene antelope, I thought it was too bad it was sandstone. Dan was back at the canoe, so I tossed it back with the rest of its slimy kin...and it broke. We'd been pitching broken sandstone all day, but the whitish core that caught my eye wasn't normal. It didn't get any more normal when I picked up both pieces to show Dan.


"OK, now what do you think this is?" I said. His jaw dropped...somewhere on the ground with mine! The joke was on us! It wasn't just sandstone anymore. It really was Tetrameryx shuleri! It was incredible an example of the unexpected.




A week ago, we teamed up again to see what treasures we could discover. The quarry was Pleistocene bones or paleo artifacts. I gently eased the stern of the boat onto a few rocks near the edge of a shallow riffle. Large chert cobbles and gravel stretched across the river, just beneath the surface. As I tended to the canoe, Dan lifted a large flint tool from beneath the water. His find re-focused us to the potential of this spot.

We scanned the subsurface terrain without a find. I walked back near the canoe and stopped to survey the area. Dan started to view the carp swimming nearby with a predatory stare. I looked down at the cobbles in front of me. Leaves were trapped by the current against some of them. One of the stones triggered a moment of recognition and denial, "Hey Dan, too bad we can't find any mosasaur material around here." Both of us were so focused on our primary targets that we had forgotten about some Upper Cretaceous faulting in the area. Yet, when my hand wrapped around the underwater "stone" there were more micro-moments of recognition. As the water dripped from my find and hand, I almost gulped out loud.

"It is a mosasaur vert! Wow, it's big!"

Dan sloshed closer, "Whoa! Let me see that! Hey, it is a mosasaur vert!" Being quoted so soon was very complimentary...we both just shook our heads.



I thought of our January trip and said, "What does this remind you of?"

"Tetrameryx shuleri!" Dan replied.

In both situations, it was written all over our faces...we had been caught off-guard. I wasn't even sure I would believe these stories if I hadn't been a witness to them. Of all the fossils we thought we would find, this was the unexpected.





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Well, now whenever you will be going back, you might be expecting some unexpected finds..

Too bad about the antelope horn, though.

I enjoy reading your blogs. They are informative, entertaining, and adventurous. Nice Job! -singing Indiana Jones theme-

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On the contrary about the horn - under the circumstances, I would not have known it if it didn't break. Thanks for the compliments. :)

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Lets say too bad it broke the way it did, then... its a disappointment that the 'sandstone' didnt come off, rather than snapping in twain.

Nice find, though! Regardless of any circumstances.

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What a find! Amazing preservation..Makes you wonder what else is encased in sandstone matrix stuff around there. I'd have to carry a rock hammer in that area and pop open the bigger pieces, just in case.

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Amazing! And even though it fractured, it's fortunate that you saw it for what it was and now you have a beautiful fossil to add to the collection...and the Mosasaur vert is awesome!


Riley :D


...And definitely, that was unexpected, did you ever think of writing short stories about your adventurous fossil trips to be published in a newspaper or something? (my high school newspaper expertise is screaming "oooh! column articles!!!") because that was a very exciting and enticing story. Will have to keep readin those blogs of yours :P

-Humming to Cam's singing of the Indiana Jones Theme-

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JohnJ.... Ive just learned what a 'blog ' is.... lol... fantastic story, Im there.... have you ever thought of putting the two bits back together?

Thanks Steve

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Cris - I don't want to think about what I've passed up... :o

Riley - Thank you. You have me thinking...

Steve - Thanks. Eventually, I will put them together. ;)

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Haha awesome John! Really great example, and great finds!!

(I am aware it is from 2009 by the way, lets see if anyone picks up :P)

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Haha awesome John! Really great example, and great finds!!

(I am aware it is from 2009 by the way, lets see if anyone picks up :P)

Thanks. ;)

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