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Day Two ; Locality Two (or Seven if you include Day One) Prepping and Retail, Erfoud, Morocco. 20th February 2019 Erfoud town itself is famous for its beautiful fossils, its skilled fossil preppers and also for its wide variety of fakes, composites, good and bad repair jobs and utter frankenfossils. A large percentage of fossils from Morocco that are available in shops and on the internet the world over originate from here or pass through the place. Fossils are sent here for prepping from all over the south and then sent from here everywhere in the country and abroad. There are many little shops, prepping centres with huge attached shops and 'museums which are really pretty much just shops as well. Top Tip :The prices here are about ten times the price of the prices in the little shacks on the edge of town or elsewhere in Morocco, but haggling can reduce the cost significantly. Many places have 'fixed' prices, but they're actually always negotiable. This time, we went to the one my friend Anouar, who is a tour guide, takes his tourists and I was asked politely not to accuse the owners and chap who'd show us around and do the chat, of having fakes or wrong info, so i had to bite my lip. We asked if it was okay to take photos and they said yes, which I was surprised about, but I guess it was because Anouar was going to use photos for his own purposes and this would involve advertising the shop. Top Tip : You will see a lot of fixed prices in Moroccan Dirham in the pieces and shelves. Divide by ten to have a price in US dollars. Because we were with Anouar, we were told everything is 50% of the marked price, but I suspect they often do this anyway, "Special Berber prices, today only". I've heard that before. And you can still haggle to get something way under that 50% and you just know they'll still be making a good profit. I didn't buy anything. Little local stores are more my line anyway - I rarely shop in supermarkets. Here is the entrance where you can see huge plates ready for prepping and polishing, some have been cut into pieces and they glued back together it seems to me, I know this happens with the crinoid beds, so i guess it's true of the orthocerid and goniatite stuff too. Some just look cobbled together because of the circular saw marks when cutting out upper layers.With these, polishing will remove the grid lines. These sheets are from the local area and contain the goniatites and orthoconic nautiloids we were walking on earlier, but from a better quality, less eroded and distorted source. Famennian, Upper Devonian, I think. This photo shows one of the trenches they dig to reach the best quality material, similar to the ones i was walking along earlier this day : Below, somebody walking on the slabs and some maps of the the world at different times in it's past, showing continental drift. : Notice these are not the famous black orthocerid marbles that come from elsewhere. The picture of Spinosaurus is a bit misleading, as you all know, it's not found in these marbles or in the Erfoud area. In fact there is very little Kem Kem material available here these days, though there was in the past. I suspect the Kem Kem area probably has it's own facillities nowadays.
Day Two ; Locality One (or Six if you include Day One) Black Sahara, South of Erfoud 20th February 2019 Well this is where things really get interesting, so stick with this thread as there are dozens of photos of fossils coming up. Looks at the tags if you want clues. I was up bright and early and wandered out at about 7 am to watch the sun rise over the still mighty Erg Chebbi dunes. And as night's candles were burnt out and jocund day stood tiptoe over the misty duney tops, the chaps came to join me and managed lots of photos. Here's one, if you would like to see more, I'm busy posting a kazillion of 'em under the Nature Photography thread.
Day One ; Locality Five Sahara Desert 19th February 2019 An advert for Erfoud, the fossil capital of Morocco. But no time today, the sun is setting. "Tomorrow", Anouar promises me. And then suddenly we are out of the mountains and on the fringes of the mighty Sahara Desert, the largest hot desert in the world. (Antarctica and the Arctic are bigger, but cold deserts) Many think of the Sahara as being sand, but actually, only a fraction of it is composed of the ergs (sand and sand dunes), most of the desert is hamada - rock desert. It is often fossiliferous. In the west, around Agadir, it is often yellow and contains Cretaceous fossils such as ammonites, south of there, the whitish yellow rocks of the Palaeogene where whale fossils can be found in the desert, but in the east, such as here, the rocks are often grey or black , hence the term, "Black Sahara". They range in age from the Precambrian stromatolite reefs near Ouarzazate through to some Lower Carboniferous patches North of Merzouga near Erfoud. Here in Merzouga they are mostly Devonian in age. Also nodules and geodes containing crystals and desert roses and other strange geological features may be found. And those aren't mountains in the distance, those are sand dunes. The dunes of the mighty Erg Chebbi up to 150 metres high. But no time for collecting today. The sun was setting and it was time for dinner and a sleep. We were going to stay in a Berber desert nomad tent, but they're mostly a bit touristy and some have been forcibly shut down since i was there, but the temperature was going to be only i degree above freezing tonight, so, no thank you very much, a hotel it shall be.