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Found 46 results

  1. First Mazon Creek Fossil Hunt

    This weekend I made my first trip out to Mazon Creek! Sorry this is such a scroller, I'm going to try and have this post be informational since there is definitely some stuff I wished I'd known about in advance and some stuff I did that really aided my success. There are pictures at the bottom. The most important thing I did before my trip was print off a topographic map of the area that I pulled from ArcGIS online. It really came in handy. It was also necessary to have a permit to collect there, something I only discovered the night before. Here is a link to a PDF of the permit. I drove down with a fellow UChicago student. We parked at the first lot off of WN5000 road from the Kankakee road side. Our plan was to use the topo map to find the steepest erosional surfaces to collect on. Initially this strategy seemed like a bust. In our first forty minutes we only found three concretions between us. I think that was because the area near the parking lot and WN5000 road was just really picked over. As we moved deeper into the brush, our finding rate increased. At some points we literally found piles of concretions, this was usually because they had landed in the roots of trees or come up against some other impediment. Our best finds were usually midway and above on the hills. Finds near the bottom of the hills tended to be weathered more extensively and were often fragmented. The concretions themselves were reddish and mostly about the size of half dollars, but larger and smaller ones were also abundant. Concretions found in sunny areas tended to have oxidized to a rusty orange color. We found fragments of some very large concretions, so those are out there, but the largest intact ones we found were about the size of a tea saucer. Many were also pre-split from weathering. We collected a fair number of these since they were covered in mud and it was hard to tell whether there might be a fossil or not. By the end of the afternoon we each had about 1/3rd of a 5 gallon bucket filled with concretions. We could easily have filled the buckets with an additional hour or two of effort, but we were pretty tired and satisfied with our success, so we called it a day. In terms of the environment, the terrain was very rugged and filled with dense brush. Open spaces were filled with burr plants to the point of absurdity. By the end of the day we looked like we had ghillie suits from the sheer quantity of vegetable matter clinging to our clothing (picture below). I recommend wearing long sleeves and pants to protect the skin, and selecting fabrics that burrs will not easily cling to. Additionally, there were lots of biting insects, but a quick spray of DEET solved that problem. I'm prepping the concretions by throwing them in the freezer. However, I'd appreciate it if somebody could link me to a post on the proper treatment, or enlighten me below- both for my own knowledge and for other readers. Photo of two of my pre split finds- the rest are in the freezer right now. (I think a polychaete worm on the bottom, and I have absolutely no clue what the thing on the top is) Our overall route (roughly) Concretions/concretion fragments in situ Me covered in burrs and looking like a dork
  2. Mazon ID Help

    I am thinking that this is a Drevotella proteana, with, but not necessarily attached to, a Palaeolima retifera.
  3. Mazon Creek

  4. Mazon ID Help

  5. Mazon Creek

    From a flat of specimens identified as from Pit 11. Three dimensional. Small leaf? Thanks! ~Paul
  6. Mazon Creek

    From a flat of specimens identified as from Pit 11. Mouth looks familiar as that of Achistrum, but no dessication cracks. Looking to confirm identification. Thanks! ~Paul
  7. Are any of these Mazon Creek Fossils?

    Hi everyone, After the thunderstorm yesterday, me and some friends drove up to the Ponderosa area of Mazon creek park to look for fossils. It was our first time, and we didn't know the specifics of what to look for, but we spent three hours walking the whole perimeter of the lake, braving the aggressive swarms of biting insects. Can anyone here tell me if any of the rocks we found are the right ones to possibly contain fossils? Attached is a picture of all the rocks, and an album with closeup pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/XoCZQJwgWU7dbcoS7 Thanks a lot!!!
  8. This is a statement that I often make to myself throughout the Summer and the vast majority of the time I decide to stay home. This was not the case in decades past and it is not because I am older and slowing down, which is definitely not the case, the main culprit is vegetation. Today I had the idea of going to the Pit and taking pictures of the area so new collectors can see areas that they collect at and also see the conditions that they will face in the summertime. I usually go to the Pit at the beginning of the fossil collecting season (March 1st), this is your best chance to find concretions since there is no foliage. Now I also am not saying that there are no fossils to be found in the summertime, I found some today and I was not really looking, it is just that much more difficult and when you add the ticks and mosquito's into the mix, it makes for a real fun day.- NOT. So this morning I left at about 8:00 am for the 45 mile drive to Pit 11, I brought a small backpack and a hammer along with my mountain bike, I was really glad that I brought it. I road up and down hills, road through mud and water and across flat lands with 3+ foot vegetation- after 4 hours I decided to leave. This Post is PICTURE HEAVY and will take SEVERAL POSTS to complete, so bear with me- I will include screen shots of aerial views as well as a couple pictures from about 20 years ago to show how things have changed. This post should also help the new comer get acquainted with the area the so they gain hopefully have better success when collecting. If others have pictures or other things that they will like to add, please feel free to do that. The first area that I stopped is an place that we use to call "Inside the cooling lakes". Years ago before they made this all access entrance, we had to enter on the other side of the cooling lakes at a location called "Fossil Gate". This was an area that was only opened on Saturdays and Sundays and it was manned by a guard from the Nuclear Power Plant. Cars would line up and when the guard opened the gate, you had to show your collecting pass and he would double check it against cards that they had with our signature. Once everything was cleared, you were free to drive in and find your area to collect. There were times when only me and my son were out collecting and the guard would wait in the shack until 4 pm when we left, it was pretty sweet. Mazonia / Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area This is an aerial shot of where you turn in for the Mazonia area that allows access into the cooling lakes. The island that you see below is Turino Hill and it is about the only place that is still free of vegetation on the sides of the hill. I collected this area a few times with a friend that had a boat, there are fossils to be found there. The other shot shows the parking lot where you will leave your car. After you park and you are getting ready to go collect, if you are facing the lake, you want to go down the road to your right. I have never found anything on the road to the left, except fishermen. Here is an aerial shot that shows the other islands that you can collect on if you have a boat. Here are a pictures of Turino Hill- On top of the hill there is a flag. Here is a picture of Turino Hill and the Nuclear Reactors to the right. A close up- Here is the road to the right, you can go past the chain blocking the path, it is there so no vehicles drive down the road. Again, before they made this entrance we had access to that road, only from farther down it- it saved a lot of walking. You can check for concretions along the shore, but at this time of the year it gets really rough to get to the shore as you continue down the road, as shown below. I crossed the chain and continued down the road on my bike for about 15 minutes until I arrived at an area that I use to collect at in the Summertime- it has really changed. Below are some older pictures of how it use to look. As you can see from the pictures above, there were plenty of places to collect concretions that were weathering out of the sides of the spoil piles. Here is an aerial shot of where this collecting area is. I will show pictures of how this area looks now in the NEXT POST.
  9. Fossil hunting season at Illinois's Mazonia-Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area, the iconic Pit 11, runs from March to September every year. I didn't make it to the park at all last year, so I wanted to get out there on day 1 this year. I took the day off work and thankfully the weather cooperated- it was cloudy and in the 30s for most of the day. I picked up my rental car at 7:30 in the morning and hit the road for the 90 minute drive north. I wasn't the first one at the park, though- I saw a few other folks heading out on the trail with buckets in hand as I pulled into the parking lot off 5000 N Rd. Although I have been to Mazonia about 6 times in the last 5 years, I am still finding my way around the overgrown landscape of the park. I started out with an area I had been to before, and had some early success. Unfortunately, I followed that by wandering off to explore a new area, lugging my heavy bucket through heavy brush for 2 hours with almost no success. That (and the fact that I was in the early stages of a head cold) led me to taking it easy in the afternoon. I was only able to add a few more concretions to my bucket, but the sun did peek out briefly towards the end of the day resulting in some lovely panoramas from up on top of a ridge. I was able to chat briefly with another fossil hunter when I got back to the parking lot about the joys and tribulations of fossil hunting at Mazonia- we discussed the hard work necessary in order to have a chance to open an incredible window into a 300 million year old world, and how we wouldn't trade that chance for anything. I finished the day at the former tipple on the western side of the park, wide open ridges of dumped waste from the former mine that remain inhospitable to plant life to this day. It is an alien looking world, and usually has not been a great spot for finding fossils. However, it is easy to access at least and I was actually happy to come across a few rough bark impressions in sandstone that I picked up. The sun was getting low, so I decided to call it a day. I only collected about 1 1/2 gallons of concretions, but I was still glad I could get out to the park and find something. I will put my finds in the next post.
  10. Mazon Creek Unknown

    I need some help with a pit 11 unknown. Reminders me oy a “Y” but it has bulbous ends on the appendages. Any thoughts? Pat
  11. I've had some luck cracking open my first trove of nodules and my students have found a few cool things too. I haven't ID'd everything yet and would appreciate any suggestions on that topic. I'll be posting more photos as I get through the material. Our collection was carried out at the end of September, 2017 as a part of the Ecology and Evolution class I teach in the Environmental Studies department of Lake Forest College. Here's a jelly from a small nodule that gave up both the positive and negative casts. Here's an awesome polycheate one of my students found. I'm not 100% sure that this is a real fossil. It popped out of the siderite matrix like this but I've seen other nodules with this lighter-colored mineral inside but not taking any organic shape. If I was to guess, this is a Pteriomorphan bivalve of some type but it doesn't look like anything else I've seen online. I sincerely doubt that I am lucky enough to have found an etacystis fossil on my first trip but this thing looks a lot like what I've seen described as such elsewhere. Plenty more to follow, I am totally hooked on this hobby. Dr. John
  12. As I was going through pictures today to post a picture of a friends Bandringa rayi, I started to look through some pictures that I had taken of the Mazon Creek area in the late 80's and early 90's and figured that some members might like to see the area(s). When the Mazon Creek Project was active and run by Northeastern Illinois University you could contact them for and an orange Permanent Collecting pass. Before you could receive the pass, you had to sign a release and get it notarized. The Mazon Creek Project would then send the larger orange card that was signed by the collector to the Commonwealth Edison Nuclear Power Plant in Braidwood, Il. Every year, you would also receive a postcard, similar to the one below, that would tell the collector when the season opened / closed and notify them of any changes. When Commonwealth Edison ran the grounds, you would drive to the "Fossil Gate", which was manned by a Commonwealth Edison guard Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm. Sometimes during the week you could try to enter through the main gate for the plant and every once in a while someone would let you into the property. When you arrived at the "Fossil Gate" on the weekend, you would pull your car up and show them you small orange pass. The guard would then take that pass and compare it to the signature on the larger card that was in his possession and if everything was good, you received a numbered pass and drive on into the property and to your collecting area. Now there were many times when the weather was terrible, and the only people collecting were me and my son, who was about 5 years old at that time. The guard would stay there for the whole 8 hours until it was 4pm and we were leaving. I believe around 1990 or 1991, the area was turned into the Mazonia- Braidwood Conservation area and the "Fossil Gate" was closed and we had to walk in from W5000N. At that time we received different personal cards. Here are some pics of Pit 11, the area where great fauna was found. During this time, there were still plenty of areas to collect that were not covered by vegetation. Here are some pics of the road W5000N and the "Tipple Area". During one season some construction equipment showed up and was doing some work, it helped uncover concretions. Also once in a great while, you could be walking down W5000N and notice a large pile of opened and closed concretions that were dumped by someone. I always figured that it was possibly done by the spouse of child of an older collector that had passed away. They knew that there were collectors out there that would cherish those concretions. Sometimes some great looking shrimp or a fish was found in the opened concretions. Below is an example of one such pile.
  13. Mazon Creek ID help

    So my wife and I loaded up the canoe and headed down to Mazonia South Unit Pit 11 for a day of some paddling and of course some fossil (nodule) hunting. We did really well on the nodule collecting. I happened to find this and was my most exciting find of the day. I found it face down in the mud and full of mineral staining and only found this half of it. After a little prep/cleaning tonight a lot of the details came out. I have no idea what I have here. Any help or ideas with this one? The first picture is more for scale. The remaining pictures were taken with my cell phone but had my wife shine her cell phone flashlight on the fossil. The details really jump out with the added light. Thanks for the help!
  14. Last Thursday decided to get out to Pit 11, Mazonia South Unit, Illinois for a day of collecting nodules and fossils. We've had a lot of rain and Thursday was clear. With all the rain, nodules are easier to see when wet as they jump out as a bright red compared to the green forest floor. And the rain hopefully erodes some fresh nods out of the ground. I sometimes go on foot for collecting but thought I would break out the kayak to get to where I need to go more efficiently. The woods are getting quite overgrown already but I haven't been out much this season yet so I had to make do. Its pretty physical climbing through the woods, up and down hills, looking for the bright red rocks. I usually start at the bottom of hills and scour for an area with concentrated concretions and work my way up the hills scanning for fossils and nice shaped nodules to bring back for the freeze/thaw. Here's an area where you can see some of the iron concretions/pieces. This is a good place to start really scanning. Not more than 30 minutes into the hunt I spotted this! I usually don't find much of anything with detail or size when it comes to already opened nodules at Pit 11 but this one was a prize for me! I was out there for about a good 4 hours hiking, climbing, slipping, falling, army crawling, etc. on the search for nodules. I collected some fern pieces, a couple big jellyfish, and the nice neuropteris. I also collected about 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket of nodules that are currently soaking for their first freeze/thaw cycle in a few days. A great day in the woods lookin for fossils! Here's the finds for the day cleaned up.
  15. I was able to get out one day this March and collect some Mazon Creek nodules from Pit 11. I found all these as they were and all of them were weird enough to keep. Any help with ID's on any of them? Even if some aren't fossils I thought they were at least unique compared to the many solid dud nodules you find with the freeze/thaw process. Thanks! 1. 2. 3.
  16. Today was the opening of the 2017 Mazon Creek Fossil Season at the Mazonia-Braidwood Wildlife Area which encompasses the famed Pit 11 (Essex Biota) . After major storms last night, I figured that I would drive the 50 miles from my house and collect at a location that is difficult to climb up to and ever harder to bushwhack through. I only go to this area at the beginning of the fossil season because of three reasons: First, there are no leaves on the trees / bushes, which makes it easier to see where you are going. Second, there are no ticks- at least I hope so and third, I have found Tully Monster (portions) here in the past. There are various locations around this area to collect, but I have always liked to collect near W 5000N Road which runs between the "Tipple Area" and "Monster Lake". Here is where I was collecting at today- it is a very steep hilly area. The V cut lake is "Monster Lake". Here is a view from the road of where I was heading to. Here is the view of my car from the top, this is where I started going up and down hills and gullies in search of concretions.
  17. Mazon Creek Shrimp? Mystery

    This nodule from Pit 11 split earlier this week. It has a vaguely shrimp-like outline, including 2 "limbs" towards the top of the concretion, but that might just be wishful thinking. Any other suggestions as to what this might be, if anything? Thanks!
  18. I had this weekend completely free, and with Fossil Hunting season having just started March 1 at the Mazonia-Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area, I decided to head up early this morning and look for some Pit 11 nodules. I had tried last year in April, but on that trip I got lost on the way and took a 1 1/2 hour detour (I ended up in Kankakee!), then wasn't sure where to look in the park once I got there. It was a beautiful day, so I still enjoyed being outdoors, but out of the 15 or so nodules I found, the only recognizable fossil was a poorly preserved Essexella. After a year of research (including reading this forum) I had higher expectations for this trip! I hit the road at 7:30 for the hour and a half trip. The sky was overcast, and I was a little worried about the amount of snow I was seeing as I drove up, but thankfully it was largely melted in the park. The forecast predicted a high in the mid-40s, very comfortable hiking weather. I had picked a few spots based on Google Maps that I wanted concentrate on, so I parked my car and headed into the brush. And brushy it was! Over the course of the day I forced my way through fields of 8-foot tall reeds, crawled under low hanging tree branches and repeatedly struggled with scraggly shrubs trying to steal my hat. I also had to deal with the snow remaining on some hills, leading to very slippery terrain, and standing water that hovered not much above freezing. Later in the day both of my feet sank ankles deep into some slushy water, so I had wet socks until I got back to the car at the end of the day (thank goodness I had packed a dry pair for the drive home). It was extremely peaceful in the park- the morning quiet was only broken by a flight of 3 Chinooks flying by about a mile away. Later in the day I also saw some fisherman in another portion of the park, and shortly before I left, I ran into a few other fossil hunters on their first visit. But what about the fossils? I had a much better haul this time. The spots I had picked paid off, and I ended up with my 5-gallon bucket a little more than half full, including the pretty little fern frond pictured here which had already split in the field. I was hoping for a full bucket, but honestly I don't think I would have been able to haul that back to my car. As it is, my legs, back and arms are going to be sore tomorrow, but it was well worth it. Of course, this is just the beginning- now I have to clean the nodules, soak them, and start the freeze and thaw process.
  19. Fish fin or Plant (Mazon Creek Pit 11)

    Hi FF, I purchased this off of eBay last year - and after reviewing and looking at reference ID books. I am beginning to suspect I may have been duped. I purchased this advertised as a fish fin. Although I believe it looks like either equisetites or lepidophylloides. Thoughts greatly appreciated.
  20. I've tentatively identified a number of Mazon pieces in my possession, and I was wondering if I could get some confirmations or corrections from those of you (all of you) who are more knowledgeable and experienced than I. The first (#1) based on length, fossilization curvature, and the pyritized mouth and throat slit, I believe to be Gilpichthys greenei.
  21. Mazon Creek Id Needed Please

    I thought this to be a very defined trail with signs of locomotion. But it looks more like "body segments". Then I thought Shrimp, but it looks too "wormy" to be a shrimp. It also is preserved in an arch, which says all of thee above......ugh. This is from pit 11. All opinions are welcomed. And as always, it's much appreciated, TFF. It's hard to see, but there is a US dime placed in the first picture.