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In 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).


Conus sauridens FF 001.jpg


I also stumbled across some very large corals that I had never seen before .  I believe that they are Balanophyllia desmophylum.


Eocene Corals FF 001.jpg


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!



Eocene Shark Tooth FF 001.jpg


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.


Waco Shark Teeth FF 001.jpg


We also found some echinoids parts and a spine...


Urchin Pieces and Spine FF 001.jpg


...and, of course, the very common (at least in the Waco Pit) irregular ammonites, Mariella sp....


Waco Mariella FF 001.jpg


...and regular ammonites, of many kinds...


Waco Ammonites FF 001.jpg


...a curious coral...


Waco Pit Coral FF 001.jpg


...and finally, some small, but beautiful, Neithea sp. bivalves.


Waco Neithea FF 001.jpg


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.


Quarry Finds FF 001.jpg


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...


Quarry Tooth FF 001.jpg


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.


Quarry Unknown FF 001.jpg 


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...


Quarry Unknown FF 005.jpg


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.


Quarry Unknown FF 002.jpg


Quarry Unknown FF 007.jpg


Continued below...

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The leading edge with the two "lumps" is below. 


Quarry Unknown FF 004.jpg


The cross-section of the damaged side is below.


Quarry Unknown FF 003.jpg


The light side has a smoothly curved ridge along the top.  The darker bottom side has a very sharp ridge.


Quarry Unknown FF 008.jpg


Quarry Unknown FF 009.jpg


If anyone has any suggestions as to what this thing is, I'm all ears.  My guess would be turtle shell fragment, but I don't know enough to be certain.  The porosity made me think that it might be shark cartilage, but it doesn't quite match that either.  I may repost in the identification section as well.


After about two hours in this section of the quarry, we went to another area to hunt for iron pyrite or fool's gold.  We found a lot of it.  It was a fool's gold rush!  Between my dad, my daughter and myself, we probably brought home 200 pounds of the stuff!  I may post a few of the cleaned up pieces.  They look nice.


When we arrived at 8:00 am, the temperature in the quarry was 69 degrees.  When we left at 12:00 pm, the temperature was still 69 degrees.  It was perfect hunting weather, and far superior to our overheated day before!  Thank heaven for Texas cold fronts! 


After leaving the quarry at 12:30ish, we headed straight back home, with lots of fossil loot to look through.


We had an absolute blast!

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DPS Ammonite

Fantastic finds. The last several photos do look like turtle shell which is similar to pitted pieces on the Fossil Forum. You took great up-close photos of the fibrous texture of the cross section of shell. Unfortunately, I could not find other high quality photos on the internet that showed the same fibrous texture of turtle shell.

Hopefully a turtle specialist can look at your piece.


Take photos of your pyrite finds too. Did you find any concretions with calcite crystals in the Eagle Ford from the Midlothian quarry? Here is a photo of a large calcite lined geode that I found at the former TXI quarry in Midlothian, Texas:

P1010133 (1280x960).jpg

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First I want to thank you for sharing your adventure with us.

What a marvelous time it sounds as if you had.

I have visited all of the locations you have mentioned and can tell you

you need to go back on another adventure sometime.


I will let you in on some info from going to the Mid. Cement plant.

My favorite find there is the occasional grapefruit and smaller sized pyrite nodules.


The last large unknown is a portion/species of a (bi-valve) giant oyster shell known as inoceramus.

The texture "holes" was caused by other invertebrates and long term underwater exposure.

Not sure of the sub-name but these do produce pearls under the right conditions.

It is not a turtle shell.

The underlying Arcadia Park member has an abundance of these.

I have seen them over 6 feet across. Huge buggers.



Take a look at the structure of the vertical grain.

The pearls these sometimes produce have the same grain structure but radiate from a center point.


Have a good next time out....


Jess B.

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Great report and great finds! Thanks for sharing!

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DPS Ammonite

This post about a "turtle shell" is a great example why clear up-close photos are needed for an accurate ID. The fibrous texture gave it away to an expert able to put 2 + 2 together. Many rocks are identified by the microscopic details instead of solely relying on the larger morphology. Good work Jess.

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Nice stuff. Always something interesting at the quarry.

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Thanks John.  I'm going to contact Carl Mehling as soon as I can to get his opinion on the find.


Jess, thanks for the input.  I saw a lot of the Inoceramus shells while we were in the quarry, and the cross section does have a similar appearance.  But the pores have a different appearance to predation or underwater corrosion.  They are very similar in size and distribution across the piece.  We'll see what Mr. Mehling thinks...:)


DPS Ammonite, I didn't find any large calcite geodes as nice as the one you posted, but my daughter found some nice smaller pieces.  While she was looking for geodes, I was chipping pyrites out of boulders nearby.  In fact, for you and Jess, here are some of the bigger ones that I collected...


Pyrite FF 001.jpg


Pyrite FF 002.jpg


Pyrite FF 003.jpg


Pyrite FF 004.jpg


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Wonderful pyrite. I have some great stories about them. Here's one.

My first trip there with the DPS was for shark teeth.

We had spotted some discoloration in some material and stopped to investigate.

Together my wife and I collected over 300 lbs of specimens and gave most away.

I did manage to retain a few samples but yours are outstanding.

My largest was the size of a softball, it was actually two fist size ones stuck together. (Gifted away that day)

On our next trip there the spot where we collected them was gone....

But a few members found another spot and came out with an astounding grapefruit

size piece with some spectacular rainbow coloring.

There is another site near Hillsboro that produces  these large nodules but most are

rusted beyond redemption.


What I called Inoceramus may be a tooth plate after all. It is pretty small, that is if your scale is in MM.

With pores on both sides hard to imagine it as being a tooth plate.

I am accustomed to ptychodon when I think of plate teeth, but the ptychodus was plate toothed. as well.

Live and learn....... 


The calcite nodules are abundant in some of the Eagleford below the Atco. I have found them rust colored, white, yellow and deep brown.

While operating heavy equipment near Joe Pool Lake I had the pleasure of digging up many of these, and the Inoceramus.

I was fortunate enough to be on the ground floor in the excavation of many of the suburbs surrounding Joe Pool.

Some nice nano crabs found out there as well as lots of teeth and boney material.


Yall have a nice day and I look forward to seeing results of your next trip.


Jess B.


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Great report report very nice finds.

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