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Let's say I've theoretically found an active construction site in Summerville, South Carolina that I would like to go fossiling in. How would I get permission to go and poke around there? What days of the week would nobody be working there? Also, what would be the best way to begin looking for teeth at a land site? I have some experience in the Summerville creeks, but have no clue where to start here. I would really appreciate some input from those of you who happen to be knowledgable about this kind of thing.
I’m pretty sure this report is going to get pretty wordy but I hope you all enjoy reading it! A few weeks ago a friend and I made plans to head down to Manasota Key for a day of fossil hunting on the beach. I left my house just before 7 AM and drove down to her house in Tampa. After transferring my things into her car we left her house just after 8 AM. We took I75 south until Venice Beach at which point we started driving on smaller roads. The plan was to check out any housing developments under construction or other construction sites we came across that weren’t posted. At the first housing development we stopped at there was a mix of completed houses, ones in the process of being built, and empty lots without a single no trespassing sign in site. We drove around the community a bit looking for a place to stop and ended up hunting around the edges of a retention pond. We didn’t find much beyond a few small shark teeth and bone fragments. After about 15 minutes we got back into the car to look for another spot. We could see an area that was still in the freshly bulldozed stage and start driving around trying to find the best way to get over to it. We found a spot in a cul-de-sac but there was one of those portable trailers that are used as offices for construction crews sitting there that made us a little nervous even though it looked to be unoccupied so we moved on to see if we could find a different access point. While we were driving around we came across an empty lot with lots of exposed piles of dirt and bits of rock so we stopped to poke around. That turned out to be a much more productive site the then first one although it was also a lot more muddy! While we were exploring it and dropping small shark teeth, turtle shell, and bits of bone another car pulled up near ours. Needless to say we got a bit nervous thinking it was someone official coming to tell us to leave. It turned out to be one of the contract workers that sprayed for insects and he stopped to see what we were doing. Turns out he had just started fossil hunting himself and he stopped just to talk about fossils! After he left we continued looking around and trying not to get too muddy although at one point I did sink down into the mud to my ankles and ended up falling onto my knees. Our best finds for that site was the large section of modern soft shell turtle shell my friend found and a dolphin ear bone I found. After a while we got back into the car to continue looking for an access point to the bulldozed area without success. Finally we headed back to the cul-de-sac and just try from that point. Unfortunately by the time we got there it was starting to rain so I put on a rain coat and walked out a little ways to see if was even possible to get over to the large piles we could see in the distance while my friend waited in the car. By this time the rain had changed from falling gently into a downpour and ground was becoming a quagmire. I could see that it was possible to get the piles but to do so we would have to go down a steep bank and across a construction rode that was rapidly turning into a muddy swamp. After getting back to the car we decided it just wasn’t feasible to get to the piles at that time and headed off to find lunch. One our way to a local restaurant we passed a shopping center under construction and decided to come back to explore it after we ate. Once we had finished eating the rain was down to a drizzle so we headed back to the shopping center construction site. Once we got there though we realized there were quite a few people working on the site and didn’t feel comfortable stopping. So we drove through the parking lot and stopped at the entrance to a side road. As we sat there discussing where to go next a dump truck passed us heading out to the main road while a second one headed in the opposite direction. We rather quickly decided to follow the second truck beyond the shopping center and into what looked like some type of complex or housing development that was in the process of being worked on. The section we were in had plenty of small trees and there wasn’t any bulldozed area but we figured that the truck was likely to lead us to a section we could look for fossils in. We followed the truck as far as we could but they it joined another truck in driving back into a section that wasn’t accessible to us. In disappointment we poked around the gravel road a little before turning around to finally go to the beach. As we pulled up to a stop sign at a two way road that would lead us back to the main highway we just happened to look off into the distance and spotted something that made us very excited, very quickly. Not too far down the road we could see the top of what looked to be an immense pile of limestone rubble and dirt towering over the areas short trees. We were quick to drive towards it and discovered the truly huge pile sitting in an empty lot surrounded by overgrown vegetation right off the main road. And there wasn’t a single no trespassing sign to be seen! We were so excited to start exploring that all we grabbed as we got out of the car were our buckets and hats before heading straight for the pile, completely forgetting about things like water bottles, sunscreen, or phones. The empty area leading up to the pile was littered with shells, bits of worn bone, and small sharks teeth. And the closer to the pile we got the bigger the teeth got! We rather quickly split up to search different areas. I tend to be a more methodical searcher than her so I move much slower while she is able to cover much more ground. I hadn’t managed to get too far down one side of the pile before I came across the biggest Mako tooth I’ve ever found and the color of it was fantastic. It quickly was put into the plastic container that I always carry in my bucket to keep my best finds separate from any large rocks or bone chunks I pick up. After that I keep wandering around and end up making my way over to a line of smaller piles were I find some nice sting ray barbs and a broken sea urchin spine. No while I’m collecting the nicer fossils for myself I’m also picking up all kinds of broken bits of bone for my parents to use in a sidewalk mosaic project that are planning for this fall. I get nearly to the end of the pile when I spot what I think is either a worn bit of bone or shell casting mostly buried in the dirt. But when I start pulling it out I realized that I had just found my first intact, decently sized Megalodon tooth! At this point I can’t start grinning while yelling for my friend and holding the tooth in the air for her to see! It is shortly after this point that I began to realize what a mistake it was to leave the car without a bottle of water as I was starting to feel rather ill. The two of us decided to retreat to the car and sit in the air condition for a while, drinking water and comparing our finds. About 15 minutes later we couldn’t resist returning to the piles to look for more fossils although this time we remember to grab both fresh water bottles and our phones. We still forgot the sunscreen though! Even though we searched around for about another hour and found more smaller shark teeth neither of us made any other big finds. At shortly after 5 we decided to call it a day and start the long drive home. We never did make it to the beach but it was fun and productive day. Because I forgot my phone in the car most of the day the only picture I took of any of the sites was of a strange looking plant I came across towards the end of the day. Below are pictures of my finds after I cleaned them up. It will probably take several posts to share them all.
Found out at a land site in Summerville SC so not sure what layer it came from, but was found among Megs and angustidens and a few others. Was wondering if anyone had a better guess at what species of whale this came from, my Google researching didn't really pull up anything that looked terribly close.