Jump to content
I_gotta_rock

Edelman Fossil Park Community Day

Recommended Posts

I_gotta_rock

After hearing much excitement about Rowan University's Fossil Park in New Jersey, I finally managed to procure tickets to their once-a-year community-access dig. The park is from the bottom of the Cretaceous sea and is suspected to contain evidence of the big meteor event. They've found whole croc skeletons, beautiful full sea turtle shells, petrified wood and other beauties in this 8-acre pit. Shark teeth, shell steinkerns, and vivianite crystals are common finds. There were 1,500 tickets available for today. They sold out in 30 minutes a month ago. Wow! I have been eagerly awaiting my time in the pit ever since! 

 

We made sure to get tickets for the earliest of three sessions so we got the first crack at whatever was to be found. No lazy morning for us!

 

We got on the shuttle bus and the volunteer asked if we were all ready for the "trip of a lifetime." Everyone cheered. She said that "almost everyone" will find something if they look hard. Hmmm.

 

The tickets are timed. You can pay $7 per person for a 2-hour time slot or $140 per family for the whole day. We chose the 2-hour slot because two hours seemed like plenty of time. Well, it definitely wasn't. The session was from 8:30 to 10:30, but that included travel on the shuttle bus to the site, 20 minutes to get off the bus, look at the display tent and a couple vendors, and line up with 500 other people so everyone could walk in at once. We listened to a talk about the pit as a 500-person group, and finally got to dig at 9:30. We dug for 45 minutes, then spent the last 15 minutes shuffling most of those 500 people back out of the pit.

 

I mentioned that the pit itself was 8 acres of amazing. The visitors today only had access to maybe an acre. 500 people + 1 acre of ground= stepping on each other. Not good. We also were not allowed to dig on the floor of the pit within our fenced area because it might  contain something they want to dig out professionally. Fair enough, but 500 people on 3 small spoils piles and a big puddle? Hey, I spent that 45 minutes digging with my plastic toy shovel (no metal tools allowed) in one tiny spot with no reason to move anyway, at least until I hit an ant colony. My teenage daughter dug a foot away and we chatted with a guy next to us from Boston who had come down for the day.

IMG_1575.JPG.30c217ba2255b547af7a0d55f3656924.JPG

See that little black area on the right, surrounded by orange fence? That's where 500 people dug in each of three sessions. 

 

What did we find? Not much. Generally on our digs, my daughter finds teeth and I find shells or bones. Doesn't matter what we are looking for, that's what we find. Today was no different. I found one 1/2" partial brachiopod of a genus with which I am unfamilar and a couple of small vivianite crystals. My daughter found a 1/4" partial tooth from what was probably a fish.  The volunteers weren't great at IDs beyond the common stuff and the three PhDs onsite were a bit busy for those 45 minutes, so we may never know.

 

As we got back on the bus, a volunteer cheerfully complimented us on how dirty we were. *sigh*

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jpenn

A friend and I were down in Mantua today as well. It's a difficult situation to actually find anything in, considering that basically all the ground available in that crowd has been dug and redug over and over again. If anything, the best part was getting to have some paleo-talk with people while up at the exhibit/vendor tables.

 

I was able to get to a less-disturbed embankment near the edge of the permitted area, dig in some and and find a cluster of bivalve molds ( Cucullaea?), six in total before one of the university watchdogs there told I was digging too deep. Per them 'dig only as deep as your wrist and fill in every hole.' I can understand not wanting to leave holes for people to trip in but it was a difficult limitation to find anything with considering how-disturbed and dug over the ground already was.

 

Here's four of the six bits found, my apologies for the poor picture as they're uncleaned and not posed well. I wanted to get these home and get some good pictures and compare them to reference but my schoolteacher friend promised he'd show his students what we found and he wanted to do that Monday.

@aerogrower 's photocube is reflecting a hot September sun quite well.

 

Very nice day out in general besides the fossiling. The event was kind of a mini-convention of sorts.

 

 

20170923_132206.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wrangellian

Wow... If they felt it was necessary to regulate it that tightly, why did they bother to open it up to the public at all? 

Only $7 but a lot of time and inconvenience... I would be incensed. I hope you both got something out of the day, if not much in the way of fossils.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jakuzi

Wow that's some garbage.  At least you got to meet and talk to some like minded people.   I can definitely understand wanting to have a chance to hunt in an epic area like that.

 

Did you know any of the restrictions before signing up?  Like shuttle time being part of your 2 hours?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ludwigia

Perhaps a group of unsatisfied customers like yourself would be willing to petition the university with their complaints and recommendations for improvement. From what you've described, it sounds like a half-concious ripoff. Fundraisers are good, but I must say that this takes the cake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
minnbuckeye

Sorry to hear about everyone's experiences. One Thousand Five Hundred people is insane!!!, even if spread out over 50 acres. Yes it is a fundraiser, but it is obvious participants did not get what they thought they would . COMMUNICATION!!!!  Being spoils piles, should the material already have the important fossils extracted from it? I always like to look for solutions to problems, not just complain. Maybe suggest to the organizers to limit the attendance to 100. Then collect the $7.00 per person as part of a lottery system juggling to be one of those 100 participants. Seeing that they sold out in 30 minutes, my guess is they would collect MORE money allowing a week or two or more of time to submit your $7.00 to enter the lottery. What do you think, @jpenn and @I_gotta_rock.

 

Visit PennDixie instead!

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I_gotta_rock
42 minutes ago, minnbuckeye said:

Sorry to hear about everyone's experiences. One Thousand Five Hundred people is insane!!!, even if spread out over 50 acres. Yes it is a fundraiser, but it is obvious participants did not get what they thought they would . COMMUNICATION!!!!  Being spoils piles, should the material already have the important fossils extracted from it? I always like to look for solutions to problems, not just complain. Maybe suggest to the organizers to limit the attendance to 100. Then collect the $7.00 per person as part of a lottery system juggling to be one of those 100 participants. Seeing that they sold out in 30 minutes, my guess is they would collect MORE money allowing a week or two or more of time to submit your $7.00 to enter the lottery. What do you think, @jpenn and @I_gotta_rock.

 

Visit PennDixie instead!

Mike

I think if it just wasn't so hyped, it would have been better. Don't bill it as such a big dig experience. "See if you can find a 65-million-year old fossil, " or "Spend some time exploring our fossil pit," not "adventure of a lifetime." Seeing them actually digging something up in the restricted area where they were digging might have been really cool, but nothing was unearthed at the moment. Have more time for the displays and kid craft outside the pit and advertise them. The only part outside the pit that was advertised was getting a book signed. It sounded like a nice book, and I'm sure the author is very knowledgeable, but I've never heard of the guy and unless the book is in audio format, I would be unable to enjoy it anyway. Have more cool stuff up at the top and make it less about digging and more about education. As it was, it wasn't a total loss. As I said, I found a mold that looks just like jpenn's partial and some nice, small vivianite crystals I wouldn't otherwise have. (Anyone know how to preserve the crystals, btw?) It's just the whole thing was geared toward little kids who have never seen fossil (and *still* haven't found one), when they are attracting adults (They announced it during the pre-dig talk.) that there are people coming from all over the country for this and one from London! 

 

We met some other folks we knew who were going home empty-handed and I told them not to worry, I am leading a trip for Delaware Nature Society next month for a couple of hours of prospecting at a huge site where you WILL go home with multiple fossils. Heck, last trip the kids took home a lot more than the parents bargained for! Only 10 (but I had a max of 15 anyway) people signed up last year so we weren't exactly tripping over each other. Cost more than $7 a person, but I guess you get what you pay for. Plus, for those who can't go out on the trip, we are having a two day fossil event that weekend at our visitor center where you can sift for the same fossils in a kiddie pool, look at florescent fossil shells, learn about our state's varied fossil deposits, examine fossils under magnifying glasses and a microscope, make a clay "fossil," and watch me try in vain to carve fragile shell material out of some sandy matrix with my dental picks -- and invariably Paleobond crumbs to my fingers (Now that's entertainment!). For some reason, the latter part of the project wasn't even advertised yet, except for my post on the National Fossil Day site, so I expect maybe 20 people to show up all weekend. But, if you happen to be in the area... End shameless plug here, but that is how I would have (am) running such an event.

 

I came to see what the place was about because they run programs for kids' field trips and I was considering taking a summer camp there next year. We'll go to Big Brook instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jpenn
5 hours ago, minnbuckeye said:

 What do you think, @jpenn and @I_gotta_rock.

 

 

What I think is that I'm glad that the Edelman Fossil park exists. The region in general and area in particular has been heavily built over by developers and it's excellent that the site is preserved and research by paleontologists will continue on the subject we all love.

 

The event would be much better for the visitor if it were presented more as an open-house visit to see the paleontological fieldwork with more interpretation and discussion by the researchers. Would they be able to draw a crowd of 1500 to the event if it were not advertised as a dig? Probably not. But as it is it's just not a very good opportunity to dig for fossils. I'd go even as far to say it's somewhat dangerous with so many people walking in narrow spaces between loose soil hills and other people and muddy rivulets of water.

 

Here's a photo similar to @I_gotta_rock s in the first post, showing the conditions. A very beautiful day, September really is the best time of year here.

20170923_124831.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jeffrey P

Nice to see so many people interested in fossil collecting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Castle Rock

There have been a FEW times when I kinda wished I still lived on the East Coast...this is NOT one of them!  dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shamalama

I recall being able to go into the pit years ago and dig for half the day. Found a partial Ammonite and some other steinkerns as well as a couple of shark teeth.  I like that they are preserving the site but it's almost as bad as if it did get developed. Casual collectors can't go there because the university wants to preserve and document everything. You have occasional open houses that purport to allow you to dig but that is in piles that have been worked over already. *sigh*

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Plax

place is just too small. I collected there in the early 80s. Most of what you see is the Paleocene Hornerstown formation and some Vincentown Formation near the top. the Cretaceous Navesink formation (or maybe they're calling it "New Egypt") is at the very base and was poorly exposed back then. The same stratigraphy is found in local streams and in the literature but guess that access isn't any better there with all the development. I suspect that most if not all the fossils that can be easily found are from the Paleocene Hornerstown Formation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shamalama
1 hour ago, Plax said:

place is just too small. I collected there in the early 80s. Most of what you see is the Paleocene Hornerstown formation and some Vincentown Formation near the top. the Cretaceous Navesink formation (or maybe they're calling it "New Egypt") is at the very base and was poorly exposed back then. The same stratigraphy is found in local streams and in the literature but guess that access isn't any better there with all the development. I suspect that most if not all the fossils that can be easily found are from the Paleocene Hornerstown Formation.

I believe that is correct. The best layer is just above the K/T contact and records either an isolated community of survivors or reworked material from points west. Navesink is still the preferred nomenclature for the highest Cretaceous formation as far as I know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×