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HoppeHunting

Stratford Hall 12/02/17

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HoppeHunting

For my second ever fossil hunting trip, I figured I'd test out a different site, this time on the Potomac rather than the Bay. I read about many good sites (Purse, Westmoreland, etc.) but the one that seemed most attractive was Stratford Hall Plantation, just down the road from Westmoreland State Park in Montross, VA. Although it was nearly double the length of the drive to Brownie's, I'd say it was well worth it. Instead of venturing off on my own this time, I went with my dad, who wanted to share in the experience of my new hobby. We got on the road early in the morning to get there right as the beach opened. The site itself is fascinating and has a lot of history. It is the birthplace and childhood home of General Robert E. Lee. They offer extensive tours of the house and the grounds, and as much as I'd love to learn about it (and I do plan on doing so some time), this time around I was here for something much, much, older than the Lee family. 

 

The drive from the entrance of the plantation to the beach is very bumpy and confusing, but we eventually made it there alive. When we arrived to the beach, we were the only ones there as we had gotten there quite early. It's not a very large beach, and the restricted cliff areas are very clearly marked. We began sifting and combing through the shells and pebbles. After finding a few good sized teeth within my first couple minutes, I knew that this was a good site. My dad and I worked on opposite ends of the beach to cover as much ground as possible, and we both got some great finds. Throughout the day, the beach was near empty, with only a few others showing up the whole time. For the last couple hours we had the whole place to ourselves, and we were able to get some good sifts in before the beach closed at 4:00 p.m. We encountered some interesting wildlife as well, from a dead eel in the water that scared the living daylights out of me while I was wading, to a washed up dead bird (quite large, and looked a bit like a heron with stubby webbed feet). We weren't able to catch a low tide, so we didn't have a whole lot of beach to work with but for two people it was sufficient. It was also quite cold out, and the water was absolutely frigid, but that didn't stop us from having a productive day sifting for treasures!

 

We managed to find quite a few teeth, mostly of decent size too! My finds are to the left, and my dad's are to the right. I should mention that my favorite tooth has to be that of Hemipristis serra, so that was one of my main goals. So you can imagine I was a bit disappointed to walk away without one...or so I thought! I didn't recognize them at first, but when I was identifying my finds later on, I found that the top left row of teeth are lower Hemis (including my biggest one, which is extremely worn down and ugly, but a Hemi nonetheless)! Although I'd much rather have an upper Hemi, these finds were great as well. We both found a good amount of tigers, both contortus and aduncus, some in fantastic condition. I have to say the black tiger on the far left may be my favorite tooth so far; it's nearly perfectly preserved! I also found a bunch of small Dusky and Gray shark teeth, as well as some Lemons. The larger one in the bottom left looked different than the rest, with its strange roots and all, so I had trouble identifying it. Help would be much appreciated. The shell I believe is the Virginia state fossil, Chesapecten jeffersonius. We found hundreds of fragments like this one throughout the day, but unfortunately this was the most complete specimen we found. Then, some more ray teeth, the leftmost being the biggest I've found yet. My dad had some great finds as well, including several baby upper Hemis, making me quite jealous. His best tooth is the top left, beautiful Sand Tiger with some nice cusps that he found on dry sand near the high tide line. He also found a tiny bony fish vert, in the bottom right. 

 

Overall, this was a great trip and I'm glad I was able to enjoy it alongside my dad. I think this may be a go-to site, as it seems quite reliable and would likely produce much better in nicer conditions. We got a good six hours of hunting in, taking a break midday during high tide. Stratford is a fantastic site for collecting, although keep in mind that they do charge you for entrance onto the grounds for the day, and the beach does close quite early year round. Looking forward to my next hunt, and I hope you enjoy the report. Hoppe fossil hunting!

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Ludwigia

Nice to see your smiling face this time around :P. Thanks again for this report and keep on enjoying your new-found hobby.

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SailingAlongToo

@HoppeFossilHunting

 

Looks like you and your dad had a good day. Glad you didn't run into any coyotes and I'm really glad you stayed in the demarcated public beach area.

 

The shell fragment you found is from a Chesapecten nefrens, which is from the late Miocene. C. nefrens is quite older than C. jeffersonius, which is from the late Pliocene into the early Pleistocene.

 

You are correct that C. jeffersonius is the VA state fossil but C. nefrens is the "type species" of the Genius Chesapecten. 

 

Here's a link.

https://vmnhpaleontology.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/chesapecten-jeffersonius/

 

If you look under my albums here on TFF, you will find some photos of whole ones including some with both valves present. They are from SH too.

 

Cheers and perhaps we will run into each other at SH some time.

 

SA2

Oh, as to the tooth you want help identifying, post some close up photos showing both sides with better lighting. It is also recommended to include some type of scale in all photographs for reference.

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ynot

Looks like You're on a roll!

Nice second trip, report, pictures and finds.

 

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Ropterus

Nice report and some nice finds as well. Glad you had a good day out with your dad.

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jcbshark

Excellent haul:fistbump:

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LiamL

Sounds like a fantastic day!

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