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dre464 posted a topic in Fossil Hunting TripsIn August, I received an invitation to join a group to hunt fossils and minerals at a cement quarry in Midlothian, Texas on September 10th. It was my very first field trip with a group, and I was extremely excited. I put my dad and my ten-year-old daughter on the list as well, and we figured we'd make a weekend of it. I had to be back on Sunday morning, so we figured we'd leave early Friday morning and squeeze two days out of the trip. After all, its a little bit of a drive to get to Midlothian from Kingwood (220 miles), and we would be passing some great sites that my dad had never visited. At 5:30 am, my dad met my daughter and me at our house, and we set out for College Station, Texas at 6:00 am. We arrived just after 8:00 am and headed out to the Whiskey Bridge for some Eocene fossils. We grabbed our gear and began heading down to the river. I glanced behind us and another fossil hunter was following us down (I'm sorry, but I can't remember his name!). We stayed on the south side of the train trestle, while our new friend moved to the north side. We found lots of great specimens, many larger than ones I had found on my previous two trips. I found two nearly complete Conus sauridens, which I have never had the fortune of finding. My only other specimen was just a fragment. The Conus specimens are below. The scale is in centimeters (as they will all be in this post). I also stumbled across some very large corals that I had never seen before . I believe that they are Balanophyllia desmophylum. My daughter managed to find a shark tooth as well. I'm not sure of the type. The root is missing, as well as the tip, but she was excited to find the first shark tooth of the trip, and her first shark tooth ever! After about an hour and a half of looking, I went over to see how our friend was doing. I showed him my two Conus specimens, and he said that he had found some as well. He reached into his bucket and pulled out a one gallon zip-lock bag with 10 or 12 HUGE Conus specimens. He had hit the jackpot, and piece after piece were coming out of the hillside. I congratulated him and told him where we were headed next, the Waco Research Pit. He had never been there and was interested. He told me he might meet us there. In fact, he told me he was an amateur fossil hunter who had just recently gotten back into the hobby, and he was looking around for possible sites where he could bring his kids. We also found out that he lives less than ten minutes from my dad. It's a small world! I really wish I could remember his name! We left the bridge and drove to Waco. After lunch at one of the amazing food trucks in town (we had the barbeque!) we headed out to the pit. It was hot in town, but we had seen nothing yet. We arrived at Army Corps of Engineers Office and signed in. As we were filling out the paperwork, in walked our friend from the Whiskey Bridge. He said he couldn't pass it up! We drove back to the site and trekked down the trail to the pit. There were few clouds and a very intermittent breeze. The heat was oppressive; the temperature had to be in the upper 90s. And they gray marl of the pit reflected the heat back up from the ground as well. My daughter lost interest very quickly, and found a small shady spot under one of the sparse cedars in the pit. Me and my dad braved the heat for several hours, as did our friend. We managed some very interesting finds. My favorite was a large shark tooth that I found, just gleaming in the afternoon sun. It was, in fact, the first shark tooth I have ever found in my fossil hunting experiences. The tooth, along with two smaller ones is below. We also found some echinoids parts and a spine... ...and, of course, the very common (at least in the Waco Pit) irregular ammonites, Mariella sp.... ...and regular ammonites, of many kinds... ...a curious coral... ...and finally, some small, but beautiful, Neithea sp. bivalves. Once we finally had all we could take of the heat, we bid farewell to our fossiling friend, who wanted to stay just a bit longer, and headed out of the pit. From Waco, we drove north to Midlothian and checked into a hotel for the night. We were exhausted, but happy with our finds so far. We were also excited about the possibilities of what we might find in the quarry the next morning. At 6:00 am the next morning, I awoke to the sound of rain hitting the window of the hotel. We had a cool front blow through the area overnight, and we were now concerned about the possibility that the quarry tour could be cancelled on account of the rain. Our group leader sent out an email saying that he was going to head that way, but that it might still be cancelled. We arrived a little before 8:00 am, and to our relief, the quarry opened their doors to us. We had about 20-25 people in the group. We were first taken into an area of the Atco Formation with deposits of dark, pebbly stone that was known to contain various types of shark teeth (including Ptychodus, which I really wanted to find), mosasaur bones and teeth, fish, and turtle bones and shell. The quarry had very generously allowed us to stay from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. I made some very interesting finds, including fish and shark vertebrae and some bone material. I also found some shark teeth, but they were all damaged partials. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to find any Ptychodus. Below is some of the material that I found. My daughter stumbled across a very badly damaged, but still very interesting tooth. I'm not sure if it is mosasaur or plesiosaur, or something different altogether. It has a keel or ridge along one side and is rounded on the opposite side. Perhaps someone might be able to help identify it... My most interesting find in the quarry was a strange flat specimen, covered in pores, with a concave side and a convex side. I found it weathered out on the surface of a black piece of crumbled stone. The exposed side was bleached white by the sun. The underside, still in contact with the stone was black. As I picked it up, it began to crumble, much as the boulder was doing. I gathered all of the pieces I could find and brought it home, where, with the help of some cyanoacrylate glue, I put the jigsaw puzzle back together again, as best as I could. The complete specimen is below. The first is the sun-exposed, concave side. Notice the unusual shape. The two "lumps" on the left side of the image above, and then the curve outward at the top. I can only guess that the opposite side had a similar curve, but this portion is missing. The reverse side is below. It is much darker, having been against the dark rock matrix... The darker portions on the surface outline a convex bulge in the middle of the piece. Also, notice the "porosity" of the specimen. This is more visible in the next two pictures. Continued below...
Well, this is my first post in the Hunting Trips section. The week of Thanksgiving, my wife, my daughters and I headed off to Waco, Texas for a three day getaway. It was not supposed to be a fossil trip, but I managed to squeeze in a few stops... Our first stop, on a cold November 22nd afternoon, was the Waco Mammoth Site. It was absolutely spectacular! My kids loved it. It was so amazing to see these huge animals still laying in the spots where they fell, instead of mounted in a museum hall... The next day, I managed to convince my wife to let me scope out the Waco Research Pit. I told her it would only take a few minutes to see what might be there...yeah right. We stopped off at the Corps of Engineers building to sign in and get a parking tag for the car. They were extremely helpful. We drove to the parking area and I left my wife and two year old in the van, while I led my 9 and 5 year olds down the trail to the pit. In the first few minutes, I stumbled across the first ammonite. My kids marveled at the beautiful spiraled shell. A few minutes later I found another. I believe they are Engonoceras serpentinum, but I'm not 100% sure. I also found some what I believe to be Mariella sp. These are the better specimens...