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This post may hold the record for the longest setup time (unless you count the millions of years of "setup" that are the basis for most of the posts on this forum). The ultimate origin was when I first saw posts from Jim (coralhead) and John (Sacha) showing some stunningly gorgeous silicified fossil corals. This was a treasure to hunt for so unlike the black and gray shark teeth (and other fossils) I had been pulling out of the Peace River and I am always up for new experiences so I contacted the two of them through the forum. In addition to the incredibly encyclopedic knowledge brought to this forum by its members, the social aspect of being able to communicate with other members who share your interest should not be overlooked as another great benefit of TFF. After some discussions about where and how this fossilized coral was found I soon learned that Jim was organizing a trip back in August 2014 for some friends from other mineral and rock tumbling forums who were coming in from out of state to collect some coral. We arrived in southern Georgia and my wife and I were able to meet up with Jim and John in person (two of the nicest guys you're ever likely to meet--a trait that I believe is shared by the vast majority of TFF members). Jim had his hands full organizing the larger group that was coming in from various states to the north so John took us under his wing and Tammy and I were introduced to coral collecting. To call it "hunting" is a bit misleading as the bed of the Withlacoochee River is quite literally paved with chunks of fossilized coral--"shopping" would be a more apt term for what we did. The trick of course is to find some nice pieces where the calcium carbonate (aragonite) coral skeleton has been replaced over time with silicon dioxide as water has picked up this mineral from the silica rich sands and percolated through the corals to slowly transform the chalky white corals to a lustrous glassy chert. A quick strike on a corner with a rock hammer would usually open up a "window" so that we could see what the inner state of the corals looked like within their rocky (and sometimes algae covered) crusts. To say that we had a great time would be an understatement. As you can see from the photo above collected quite a bit--sometimes a bit indiscriminately as we were still novices and did not have a fine tuned eye for what would be a nice looking specimen. One of the goals was to find some pieces of coral that would (though transformed into silica-based chert over the eons) still show some signs of the original coral polyp structure. My wife has a favorite fossil coral pendant she bought in Bali several years ago and we thought it would be fun to try to find something like this ourselves. Unfortunately, our desire to aim for pieces retaining the polyp structure often led us to keep pieces that turned out to be "punky"--where the silica had not entirely replaced the calcium carbonate skeleton. These pieces (while displaying the polyps) were not glassy enough to take cutting and polishing or rock tumbling and have now become "yard rocks" in the back yard. If you missed reading about this outing, check out this post from shortly after our trip (with lots of pretty images): http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/48828-first-coral-hunt/ -Ken