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Fossil-Hound

Yesterday morning my cousin Matt picked me up at my in-laws in Alpine, UT at 6:30 am and we travelled down to U-Dig south of Delta to dig for Cambrian trilobites and other marine life. It was a three hour drive and we came into the quarry at the perfect time. Robin (Rob), the helper on site brought out some very neat finds including an ammonite hash, ammonite, and an Asaphiscus wheeleri with a green tint to it. Rob guided us to a spot that had been ripped up the previous day by their onsite bulldozer. There were large slabs of shale everywhere for the splitting and we where the only ones out there besides another early riser who's name also happened to be Matt. I'll call him M2 (Matt the second). To my utter shame and disappointment I did not take any pictures of us or the quarry we where digging in because I was having so much fun splitting shale open and going through large slabs of shale as fast as I could. My arms and hands are very sore today but it was worth every second. Towards the end of the day Rob came over and let us split some shale in their 15 foot layer which is famous for containing large Asaphiscus wheeleri. These trilobites are much harder to find than the ever so common Elrathia kingi and the layer is usually off limits to the public. Within about an hour at the 15 foot layer I pulled out 3 complete A. wheeleri along with 3 large A. wheeleri molts and some E. kingi's. There were molts everywhere. It was a really good day and despite getting very sunburned I walked away with a large bucket of about 25-30 complete trilobite molts and complete trilobite remains. Unfortunately because I flew out to Utah I was only able to bring home about 5 nice ones from the trip. The rest are in the bucket and shall just have to wait for when I'll return to reclaim them. I might move out to Utah soon so hopefully they won't be in my parent-in-law's garage for to much longer.

 

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Rob showing off a large and nearly complete A. wheeleri.

 

 

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I swapped M2 a ryolite nodule from a nearby location for some shark teeth. He was more than happy to do the swap and Rob used the onsite rock saw to slice the nodule in half revealing the inner crystals.

 

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The bucket full of trilobites (Asaphiscus and Elrathia) in my in-laws garage.

 

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The other half of the nodule.

 

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Large E. kingi that needs some more polishing.

 

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I'm not certain that this is an Elrathia nor is it an Asaphiscus. The pygidium on an Elrathia is much wider. There's a slight chance that this could be an Alokistocare because a Bolaspidella's axial lobe would be much thicker. I would be happy if this was a Alokistocare because they are very rare. Regardless of the species this appears to be a molt. To bad it's not the real deal but I still like it and Rob did a good job at prepping it out of the shale. Rob puts mineral oil on the tops of the trilobites to give them a dark black coating. @Fossildude19 please call in the trilobite experts to assist in the identification of this one. It could be a compressed Elrathia but I'm not certain.

 

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This is a large Asaphiscus I found a few years ago and it has a greenish hue. About 6 diggers went through U-Dig that day and I found the largest Elrathia kingi. Doesn't that merit some kind of free dinner or gift card? ;-)

 

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Large Elrathia kingi.

 

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Another decent sized Elrathia.

 

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Rob showing off his green Asaphiscus from his own personal dig from last week.

 

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M2 showing off some topaz on a piece of ryolite.

 

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Rob gave me a little baggy to place my large Elrathia in and it had this cool info sheet in it. I'm very impressed at the way U-Dig has gone above and beyond to get everyone in the family involved in the thrill of paleontology and geology.

 

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Rob showing off a compressed ammonite he found a few weeks ago. I absolutely love the color on this rare (for Utah) fossil.

 

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The entrance to U-Dig. Really wish I would have taken a before and after photo of the quarry because we tore up so much shale that day.

 

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Here's a nice multi-plate of two Elrathias. One is a real specimen the other the molt. Perhaps the real specimen was buried shortly after it shed it's exoskeleton.

 

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I ordered some Riker cases a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised to see them at my door step upon arriving home from Utah today. Here's some of my nicer finds from U-Dig in a smaller Riker case.

 

Edited by Fossil-Hound
Updated geology of rocks per members feedback.
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Thanks for sharing this great report! You definately scored some great finds! Congratulations! 

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FossilDudeCO

Fantastic finds! Looks like a great trip.

Also glad to know they open earlier than fish quarries!

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That other "geode" with the sherry colored crystal is a topaz from Topaz Mountain in rhyolite matrix I'll bet. They come out that color and turn clear in the sun. Topaz mountain is about an hour from U-dig on dirt roads. I'm jealous of those trilobites.

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Nice finds!

The first geode (cut by Rob) is from Dugway geode beds.

As Scylla said the other "geode" is not a geode but a crystal vug. It is a topaz crystal from Topaz mountain. and the color will fad if left in light.

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Hi Jason! Looks like you had a successful time out there. Congrats to the great finds and thanks for the report. I was a bit taken aback when you first mentioned Ron's ammonite finds, since there's a lot of time and space between the Cambrian and the Mesozoic, but after seeing the photo of the ammonlite I figured he must have been somewhere in the Bearpaw Formation, but not directly there at U-Dig. Correct?

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Fossil-Hound

@Ludwigia yes I believe so. He said these are hard to find. U-Dig just contains the Cambrian trilobites and brachiopods.

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Hey Fossil Hound, your great report makes me miss my trilobite days.  Good memories.  Thanks

 

RB

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Fossildude19
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Wrangellian

Some nice ones in there. I do hope I can get out to that site some day before I check out of here.

I suspect piranha will identify that one you're not sure about as an E. kingii, just some slight variation in form, but I don't want to put words in his mouth (fingers).

The prep job on that first item looks kind of brutal, imo. :faint:

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Looks like you had a good time and a good day. I would love to get out to Utah to collect but not a place I can get my wife to have any interest in visiting.....

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On 5/9/2017 at 5:41 PM, Fossil-Hound said:

I'm not certain that this is an Elrathia nor is it an Asaphiscus. The pygidium on an Elrathia is much wider. There's a slight chance that this could be an Alokistocare because a Bolaspidella's axial lobe would be much thicker. I would be happy if this was a Alokistocare because they are very rare. Regardless of the species this appears to be a molt. To bad it's not the real deal but I still like it and Rob did a good job at prepping it out of the shale. Rob puts mineral oil on the tops of the trilobites to give them a dark black coating. @Fossildude19 please call in the trilobite experts to assist in the identification of this one. It could be a compressed Elrathia but I'm not certain.

 

 

100% Elrathia kingii

 

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Fossil-Hound
1 hour ago, piranha said:

 

 

100% Elrathia kingii

 

 

@piranha yeah I had my suspicions it was but just wanted to be sure. So without looking at the cephalon what's the main difference between an Alokistocare and Elrathia?

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Fossil-Hound
4 hours ago, Malcolmt said:

Looks like you had a good time and a good day. I would love to get out to Utah to collect but not a place I can get my wife to have any interest in visiting.....

 

@Malcolmt,

thank you! Yes it is a really cool place to visit. If you ever decide to visit please contact me and I'll make the trip out there with you and as soon as you send me that Bella and the E. rana's I'll ship out some Elrathias your way. ;) :D Phil from PD is anxious to see the Bella and post it next to the one Alasaraid discovered. I might have some extra Asaphiscus lying around. If I do I'll send you one. I'm also going Ecphora hunting in a few weeks and will send you some of those as soon as I find them. Do you want any Chesapecten's jeffersonious or nefrens? I just found some from the bay that are about 4-5 inches in diameter. Anything above 3 inches in diameter is decent sized for pectens.

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Fossil-Hound
17 hours ago, Wrangellian said:

Some nice ones in there. I do hope I can get out to that site some day before I check out of here.

I suspect piranha will identify that one you're not sure about as an E. kingii, just some slight variation in form, but I don't want to put words in his mouth (fingers).

The prep job on that first item looks kind of brutal, imo. :faint:

 

Yeah Rob prepped them on site so some of them where a bit rushed but I still think they look half decent. I have a bunch of others that need prepping and am holding off until I have the proper equipment. I do have some stuff to practice on of course. Thanks for the id feedback.

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Nice report. It's difficult to remember to pull out a camera and take some photos of the action in progress. I find that looking back on photos of a fossil hunt helps to keep the details of the hunt fresh in my mind longer. Great finds and I'm looking forward to your next trip report (with more photos). ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Fossil-Hound
1 minute ago, digit said:

Nice report. It's difficult to remember to pull out a camera and take some photos of the action in progress. I find that looking back on photos of a fossil hunt helps to keep the details of the hunt fresh in my mind longer. Great finds and I'm looking forward to your next trip report (with more photos). ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

@digit yes that's the one regret I have from the trip is not taking enough photos in the field. I had some great digging partners and we were going through some loaded layers. Rob let us dig into the Asaphiscus layer for an hour and we found a lot in there. I'll work on that for next time.

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Wrangellian
19 minutes ago, Fossil-Hound said:

 

Yeah Rob prepped them on site so some of them where a bit rushed but I still think they look half decent. I have a bunch of others that need prepping and am holding off until I have the proper equipment. I do have some stuff to practice on of course. Thanks for the id feedback.

That's a good idea. I assume you will keep us posted as to your progress?

Did you find anything else other than trilos while you were there (sponges, worm tubes, algae...), or are those found more at other spots?

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Fossil-Hound
Just now, Wrangellian said:

That's a good idea. I assume you will keep us posted as to your progress?

Did you find anything else other than trilos while you were there (sponges, worm tubes, algae...), or are those found more at other spots?

 

I was really being picky because I had a plane to catch and the rest of the stuff that I didn't put in my suitcase is in a big bucket at my in-laws home in Alpine, UT. Found some other cool stuff but didn't keep any of it. Lots of worm burrows, some algae, and sponges but I was mainly interested in the trilobites. I might have some perenopsis lying around but I let a lot of those go. Rob said they were the last of the blind trilobites. Didn't realize trilobites where ever blind to begin with. I'll keep you posted on my prep progress but it might be a while before I get my workshop and equipment setup. I have some E. rana, A. wheeleri, E. kingii, and G. boothi molts to practice prep work on. :trilo:

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54 minutes ago, Fossil-Hound said:

...So without looking at the cephalon what's the main difference between an Alokistocare and Elrathia?

 

 

Altiocculus (=Alokistocare) harrisi is quite different with 32 thoracic segments and a tiny pygidium.

 

IMG.thumb.jpg.61bf1381bc9d09f9307748b71bca896a.jpg

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Fossil-Hound
10 minutes ago, piranha said:

 

 

Altiocculus (=Alokistocare) harrisi is quite different with 32 thoracic segments and a tiny pygidium.

 

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Indeed that pygidium is distinctively smaller. Has a conical shape to it. Very nice trilobite. :trilo:

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Wrangellian
1 hour ago, Fossil-Hound said:

 

I was really being picky because I had a plane to catch and the rest of the stuff that I didn't put in my suitcase is in a big bucket at my in-laws home in Alpine, UT. Found some other cool stuff but didn't keep any of it. Lots of worm burrows, some algae, and sponges but I was mainly interested in the trilobites. ...

I understand... but it's too bad you left things like sponges, you don't see them as often as the trilos and they are harder to acquire.

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1 hour ago, Fossil-Hound said:

I might have some perenopsis lying around but I let a lot of those go. Rob said they were the last of the blind trilobites. Didn't realize trilobites where ever blind to begin with. 

 

 

Actually there were blind proetid and phacopid trilobites up until the late Devonian.  

The last trilobites (Proetida) of the Carboniferous-Permian all had holochroal eyes.

 

 

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