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Hi Everyone. I was fortunate to be able to take a weeklong vacation trip the week of Labor Day, my fourth since I began collecting fossils. I wanted to visit friends and family and do some collecting. I was able to do all of that. It was busy, but there was also some quality relaxation time. It proved to be a good break.

 

I flew into the Denver airport, rented a car and drove to Colorado Springs where I was invited to stay with my second cousin and her family. Next morning I was on my way to Florissant Fossil Quarry. I've known about Florissant for over 50 years and over 40 years ago I visited the National Monument, back when I was interested in fossils, but not into collecting them. This time I was intent on collecting and spent four hours splitting shale at the pay to collect quarry. The famous Florissant site was a lake during the late Eocene age. A number of eruptions from a nearby volcano buried animals and plants in beds of shale that were in turn covered by volcanic ash which beautifully preserved their exquisite details. These photographs show the exposure that's quarried, the area where guests like me can split the shale, and my finds from four hours of splitting. 

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These are plant fossils I found including one leaf and its counterpart, plus roots of some sort:

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I was also fortunate to find a couple of insect fossils. One is a beetle with its counterpart. The other is an unknown, thus far:

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By mid afternoon I was heading south and east to Pueblo and an area known as Baculite Mesa. It is located on private land and I was able to get permission to collect there. Baculite Mesa is an exposure of the Upper Cretaceous marine Pierre Shale. I've known about the site for over 40 years, but had never visited until now. It was hot and the terrain was rough; steep slopes and at least three types of prickly cactus which were very prevalent. The fossils, that I found were already weathered out and on the surface. Baculites are by far the most prevalent fossils and I saw hundreds of pieces. I ended up collecting just over a dozen. 

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As I was leaving, I met the caretaker who informed me that most of the collecting was in a place just south of where I had been. I decided to return the following morning and spent another three hours exploring.

 

These are the baculite pieces I was able to find. Baculites are a type of straight-shelled ammonite. The elaborate and intricate suture patterns on their shells I find especially pleasing. Some shells retained their natural pearly luster. The longest is about six inches:

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From there I headed down to New Mexico to visit. I was also hoping to collect again in the Puerco with PFOOLEY, but there wasn't enough time, this time. Headed back north into Colorado and went to another Upper Cretaceous Pierre Shale site; Kremmling. On BLM land there is a 160 acre ammonite research center where collecting is forbidden. However, outside the boundaries of the research center collecting is permitted on BLM land. There is a lot of land to explore and I found most of the fossils in large sandstone blocks along a ridgeline' There were very large Placenticeras ammonite imprints in the rocks and also large  (over a foot in diameter) casts and imprints of Inoceramus (clams). 

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Extracting the fossils from the hard sandstone often proved difficult to impossible. Still I was able to collect a number of Inoceramus clams, some ammonite pieces, and Baculite parts. I also found a tiny Turritella (gastropod) cast and some imprints on the back of a Placenticeras shell piece. 

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Finally, a selfie with a Placenticeras ammonite imprint behind me. Hope you enjoyed this. I certainly did.

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Tidgy's Dad

Nice photos, finds and report. :)

Very interesting so thanks for sharing. 

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Wrangellian

I get the impression (sorry) that fossils are basically the same all over the West! (including here)

Thanks for taking us along.

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looks like a great trip.

 

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Fossildude19

Thanks for the great report, Jeff! :) 

Glad to see your successes! 

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historianmichael

Awesome trip Jeff! The Pierre Shale Baculites and Inos you collected are really cool! Even if you couldn't extract them, I think just seeing the really big Inos in the field is amazing.

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Manticocerasman

Great report :)

I love those baculites 

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Wow! Sounds like a good trip! love the sutures on the Baculites! Those leaves are exquisite!

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frankh8147

I was looking forward to seeing this trip report! :)

 

VERY nice baculites - I especially like the bigger one with the sutures! The inos' are really cool too! That first one with two specimens is an especially nice display piece!

 

Congratulations on all your finds! Look like you had another 'trip of a lifetime'!

 

 

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On 9/19/2021 at 5:10 PM, Tidgy's Dad said:

Nice photos, finds and report. :)

Very interesting so thanks for sharing. 

Thanks Adam. Glad you found it interesting. Sorry, no brachiopods. 

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On 9/19/2021 at 6:40 PM, Wrangellian said:

I get the impression (sorry) that fossils are basically the same all over the West! (including here)

Thanks for taking us along.

I would say that's hardly the case. Maybe because I visited two sites with the same formation that it appears so. I'm sure a lot of similar material can be found on Vancouver Island, but you would know all about that.  Glad you enjoyed the trip.                    

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On 9/19/2021 at 7:02 PM, jpc said:

looks like a great trip.

 

Thanks JPC. Maybe next time I'll visit Eastern/Central Wyoming. I hear there's some real good collecting up there. 

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On 9/19/2021 at 10:28 PM, Fossildude19 said:

Thanks for the great report, Jeff! :) 

Glad to see your successes! 

Your welcome Tim and thanks. You're always with me when I'm collecting, in spirit at least. 

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On 9/20/2021 at 2:00 AM, historianmichael said:

Awesome trip Jeff! The Pierre Shale Baculites and Inos you collected are really cool! Even if you couldn't extract them, I think just seeing the really big Inos in the field is amazing.

Thanks Michael. I left some Inos in the field for you whenever you can get up there. 

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On 9/20/2021 at 2:58 AM, Manticocerasman said:

Great report :)

I love those baculites 

Thanks Kevin. Those were the first big baculites I've ever collected. So I'm quite thrilled.

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On 9/20/2021 at 8:58 AM, JimB88 said:

Wow! Sounds like a good trip! love the sutures on the Baculites! Those leaves are exquisite!

Thanks Jim. Glad you appreciate my finds. Can't wait to break some rocks with you next month. 

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On 9/20/2021 at 5:26 PM, frankh8147 said:

I was looking forward to seeing this trip report! :)

 

VERY nice baculites - I especially like the bigger one with the sutures! The inos' are really cool too! That first one with two specimens is an especially nice display piece!

 

Congratulations on all your finds! Look like you had another 'trip of a lifetime'!

 

 

Hi Frank,

These baculites were definitely more impressive than the ones we've found in New Jersey. Glad you liked them and the Inos. That one with the two Inos is already in my display case. Collecting in the Upper Cretaceous of Colorado made me miss our trips together in New Jersey's Cretaceous streams. 

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