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Doctor Mud

Dealing with questions from the public about your collecting while you are in the field.

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fifbrindacier
5 hours ago, Tidgy's Dad said:

I was out collecting in The Tunisian Sahara, in an area that was supposed to contain fossil fresh water gastropods of reasonable size. 

As often happens, I soon had a following of thirty or so small children asking for pens, sweets and money and curious as to what on Earth i was doing. I responded with my usual good natured snarls and mild threats. 

I had not  yet learned the Arabic for snail ( halzun, or babbouche in Morocco) so I couldn't explain what I was doing. A couple of them brought me pretty stones and bits of quartz, calcite and so on which i ungratefully refused. 

Finally, I remembered that they often speak French there, as it was a French colony and so I said, "Escargot" 

They started collecting actual snails for me, though where they found them I'll never know as it was a very dry area, though most of the shells were empty and crumbling. Again I got irritated with the children. 

Finally, I found a half of a fossil snail and very pleased with myself was examining it with the kids looking over my shoulders to see what I was so interested in. 

They were amazed and I explained they were very old, Miocene and thus millions of years old. 

They went away looking rather confused but came drifting back in ones or twos over the next hour - with fossil gastropods! 

They must have found a couple of kilos for me, including some excellent specimens it would have taken weeks to find on my own and I only had the afternoon at this locality. 

Lesson learned, Adam.:D

My husband lived in Algeria, at about 4 kilometers from Tunisia. In that area, they gathered fossils that come from the Algerians still call Escargotière, that means this is a place where you're sure to find snails. Those are places where the prehistoric men lived and ate. You find there bones, tools, modern shells but also fossils because this is an area full of phosphate. My sister-in-law gave me some of the ones she found there. Like that gryphea and that coralline algae with pink Homotrema rubrum foraminifers :

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fifbrindacier
9 hours ago, Troodon said:

My close encounters where I collect are mostly with rattlesnakes, scorpions, bobcats, badgers, fire ants that can hurt you so two legged ones would be welcomed :D  

I do am two legged, but i'm too far.:P

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fifbrindacier

I usually meet people who are curious and that's always a good occasion to talk with someone else.

But at one time i met a man who made me a surprising remark.

I was on my favorite beach where there are a lot of worn urchins but also some nice ones. You well see them because they have not the same color than the marl they're inside.

He told me that hammering around like i did was senseless because if i was gathering something to eat i'd better go nearer the ocean. I answered i was looking for fossils of urchins.

He then told me not to get tired because he lived there since 30 years, walked on that beach more than once a week and he never saw nor heard of fossils there (saying that he had a foot on a worn urchin).

He told me i had the right to eat whatever i had in mind, meaning i was foolish, and went away.

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Tidgy's Dad
4 hours ago, Nimravis said:

@Tidgy's Dad Adam I would start paying them in candy for fossils- now they need to start finding Dino material for you.

Trouble is they already know the value of the things down there, i'd have to provide an awful lot of sweets! 

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PFOOLEY
On 1/2/2018 at 1:25 PM, JohnBrewer said:

...as I tend to wear a utility kilt. 

TS-0030-3.jpg.e0b3395169501306aa994328c38dda0d.jpg

 

Thought that was you...any luck that day?

 

Edit: @JohnBrewer, I joked in ignorance :mellow: ...those kilts look pretty legit. 

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fifbrindacier
16 hours ago, PFOOLEY said:

 

 

Thought that was you...any luck that day?

:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:Surely, but is he really behind that mask or disguised in musician ?

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Tidgy's Dad
2 hours ago, fifbrindacier said:

My husband lived in Algeria, at about 4 kilometers from Tunisia. In that area, they gathered fossils that come from the Algerians still call Escargotière, that means this is a place where you're sure to find snails. Those are places where the prehistoric men lived and ate. You find there bones, tools, modern shells but also fossils because this is an area full of phosphate. My sister-in-law gave me some of the ones she found there. Like that gryphea and that coralline algae with pink Homotrema rubrum foraminifers :

Nice! 

I think I was not too far from there at one point, certainly went to the phosphate mines, but there are many in North Africa. 

Love the algae and forams. :)

 

 

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Max-fossils

I enjoy meeting other people while out hunting. When I go to the Zandmotor (alone), I usually step out at the bus stop of Bus 24, which is near the beach of Kijkduin (the ZM is in between the beach of Kijkduin in the south and the beach of Ter Heijde in the north), and then have to walk through the whole beach of Kijkduin before getting to the ZM (there are already fossils on Kijkduin beach, but they aren't as common; they get more common the closer you are to the ZM). Because Kijkduin is one of the most popular beaches in the Netherlands, it is usually very full with sunbathers, especially in summer, and a pain to walk through. I do often get weird faces from people because I'm the only one in pants and t-shirt with a big backpack, while everyone else is in bathing suits, but that doesn't matter much to me. Luckily the beach immediately gets calmer after crossing some kind of stream that cuts the beach in two, as people don't bother to cross that. Once there, I often go up to people that I see walking head down, as I'm pretty sure that they will also be fossil hunters, and often people come up to me too, so that we can talk about what we found today, found on other days, other hunters we met, etc. It's nearly always an enjoyable talk. 

 

The talking to non-fossil-hunters usually happens on the way back, when I come in the bus with bags full of shells and rocks (in their eyes). They ask me for what reason I am breaking my back for such ridiculous things, but I then explain that I was actually looking for fossils. They are always stumped by the three following things: when I tell them that the shells I found are 120'000 years old; that 40'000 years ago the North Sea didn't exist and that it was just big plains; and when I tell them that 40'000 years ago there were mammoths, rhinos, jaguars, hyenas, etc roaming our country. And I don't blame them, because it is pretty weird to think about such 'exotic' animals to live in the 'boring' country that we have now (wildlife-wise, it is true that our country is not that incredible); and the North Sea surrounds all of the Netherlands, so to think that once it didn't exist at all is also very weird in many people's opinions. 

 

 

Oh, Adam @Tidgy's Dad, young kids are actually pretty fun hunting partners. Mostly because they will just find whatever you explain to them about paleontology "awesome", and not immediately think that you are a crazy man! Also, if you explain how to find them, they will likely find a few things for you too. For example, I was in Dubai two years ago, and one day I was on a small beach beachcombing for seashells, when a small boy came up to me and asked what I was doing. I told him that I was looking for seashells, and that I especially liked the pink ones (there were some very nice neon pink seashells there). So he helped me look, and that boy, which must have been about 6 years old, found some very nice specimens for me! It's also hilarious, and cute, to see their face glow with pride whenever you say they made a good find. I also let him choose a few of the seashells at the end of the day that he could keep himself, and it was very nice to see him run up to his dad showing him all of his new little treasures. 

Then again, I can understand that it must be a pain to have 20 little kids running behind you... I guess that in this case, the phrase "the more the merrier" doesn't apply. 

 

Max

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doushantuo

Mind the strike on Thursday,Max

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Max-fossils
3 hours ago, doushantuo said:

Mind the strike on Thursday,Max

Yup, I heard. Gah, what a horrible storm! This time though I'm lucky because as I am still on holidays I don't need to leave my house yet, so I'll probably just stay inside for now. But for others it's surely gonna be chaotic! Hope you don't get in trouble.

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Uncle Siphuncle

Sharing info is cool, but I like to do so with discernment on my own terms.  I don’t feel obligated to spill my guts to strangers if caught flat footed in the field.  I prefer to consider who I’m dealing with, where they live, their long term intentions for use of info gleaned from me, whether the site is public or private, natural or man made, long term or ephemeral, taxa involved, etc.

 

Once I was collecting a site that had a new species I was collecting among other things.  In that situation, I felt that playing dumb and showing oysters was appropriate when questioned.  

 

I’ve spilled my guts before, seen eyes glaze over and slobber form in the corner of the guy’s mouth, meaning that the site just became his “forever site”, tracked up after every rain. 

 

So all scenarios must be considered.  I prefer to give beginners specimens and/or beginner sites.  They are satisfied, important sites remain low key as required, and my generosity remains at my discretion.  

 

That said, I’ve donated thousands of specimes to kids one on one, through Boy Scouts and schools, so I feel I’ve done my part to inspire, but I’ve done it my own way.

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Uncle Siphuncle
3 hours ago, Al Dente said:

I’m the same way. Many of the sites I find are tiny and easily exhausted of material. My sites are usually along rivers or creeks. I have a lot of people fishing that will stop and ask what I’m up to. Sometimes I’ll tell them I’m fossil hunting but usually I’ll tell them I’m studying the local geology which is partly true. That response usually bores them enough that they will wish me luck and then leave. 

 

 

Another realistic scenario worth noting.  You find a mosasaur slowly eroding out.  Would you rather gather the pieces with family over time, or advertise and see the pieces scatter to the wind?  Whether you keep it or donate it is a personal choice, but significance is maximized if the elements stay together.  It isn’t hard to share a different site with lesser concerns, so again you can be generous within personal boundaries. 

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Shellseeker

I see people in the river all the time.  Many are kayaking, or fishing, or just enjoying the outdoors.  When asked I usually tell them I am looking for fossils and donate small examples (horse teeth, mammoth fragments, small shark teeth) when the dynamics are correct (kayak speed, close passage, appropriate fossils on my sieve) , curiosity, age, etc. I am also acutely aware of competition.

One of my vivid memories was Memorial Day weekend , 2015. Against our normal patterns, we went out on Memorial day because we were finding some very pristine fossils at a location that had very limited gravel. Examples of what we were finding:

RSCN0773.thumb.jpg.6e002820d60d02c206f1e12876f30764.jpgRSCN0780.thumb.jpg.69af2eba8330a06bb0dead4abf955429.jpgRSCN0899cm.jpg.e6ff8e8bc7b49cdddb11f2dc20dd1a5d.jpg

150-200 Kayaks/Canoes passed our location with 20 % of the people in those kayaks asking What are we doing, How successful are we, what is the biggest fossil we have found, etc

Certainly, these discussions were interrupting our digging as many wanted to continue with followup questions. The local canoe rental business decided that they would get more business if (for a slight additional fee) they advertised the fossil rich nature of the river and provided shovels and sieves. So we had quite a few novice hunters with children who had already stopped unsuccessfully multiple times to search for fossils. About 10 such groups asked if they could stop upstream or downstream of us and dig -- fortunately the Peace River delivered some of its huge reserve of small fossil shark teeth. One woman with 2 young children, stopped , came over and asked if she and the kids could dig next to us in the hole we had excavated. I felt that I was as understanding and generous as was possible for me in the situation. :zen: However, after that experience, I refused to go out on weekends unless the most likely encounters I would have would be with gators and water moccasins. :D

 

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hrguy54

A few years ago I was collecting at a site that was slowly being developed for a housing tract. It was less than a mile from my home (in a suburb of Dayton, OH) and at a highly visible intersection. The hillside that had been dug out was rich with a wide variety of Ordivician fossils. It was one of my main sources for several years. A police car stopped and the 2 policemen who got out asked me what I was doing, where I lived, etc. I simply said "collecting fossils", they looked at each other quizzically and asked, "What's that?". I was a bit dumbstruck but pulled a few out of my bag and showed them. I told them where I lived as I did so. They still didn't appear to understand about the fossils.

 

I thought they were playing with me. Not yet sure of the situation and being a Human Resource person, I gave them my "politically-correct, hopefully less offensive to the Creationist" description of a fossil, starting with "Scientists believe....", including that they were thought to be over 400 million years old. They pondered what I said and re-examined the fossils in their hands. One of them asked me what I  believe. I responded that I believe the scientists, thinking it had taken a weird turn, and still hoping to see them start laughing. They never did. They walked away from me about 20 feet and huddled, speaking seriously. They soon returned, still looking at me suspiciously, handed the fossils back to me and told me to be careful. Then got in their vehicle and drove away. I was left wondering what had just happened.

 

A few months later I was at the same site and a lone policeman pulled up (same police force) and asked the same initial question. He however soon told me that he had taken a few Geology courses in college and was excited to see what I had found. I gave him several for his son. My faith in the city was restored. Somewhat.

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Max-fossils

@hrguy54 wow, that must have been pretty weird :ighappy: I really wonder what was going through these policemen's heads that day! Must have been slightly scary for you too...

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Wrangellian

I've usually got the place to myself, and even people who are just out walking their dogs don't ask me anything, just say 'hi' as we pass each other (and I'm glad of it).. despite me looking undoubtedly odd with my stripped-down baby stroller and my grubby coat on.

A while ago, on my way back to my car with a tray full of fossils, a hiker asked me politely if I minded him asking what I was up to. "Fossils" I said. He asked to see them. I showed him once we got to the car where I could set the tray down in the trunk. He complimented me on my finds, and then he pulled out a very nice complete ammonite that he said he had found up there on his hike. Said he just stumbled across it.

Story of my life is, as Confucius said, "Show-off always shown up in showdown". The guy that's not even there to look for fossils gets the find of the day.

 

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Cam28

Usually at the peace since it's practically in the middle of nowhere & not much else going for it besides nature & fossils not many skeptics, but during my first hunt at Apollo Beach in 2014, sure turned some heads digging in the water (have since realized their efforts to prevent beach erosion, wouldn't do again, was only finding shells anyways) people looked at me like I was nuts when (after being approached) I proclaimed I'd found a horse tooth in the surf lol, fossil or not

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josephstrizhak
23 hours ago, Shellseeker said:

I see people in the river all the time.  Many are kayaking, or fishing, or just enjoying the outdoors.  When asked I usually tell them I am looking for fossils and donate small examples (horse teeth, mammoth fragments, small shark teeth) when the dynamics are correct (kayak speed, close passage, appropriate fossils on my sieve) , curiosity, age, etc. I am also acutely aware of competition.

One of my vivid memories was Memorial Day weekend , 2015. Against our normal patterns, we went out on Memorial day because we were finding some very pristine fossils at a location that had very limited gravel. Examples of what we were finding:

RSCN0780.thumb.jpg.69af2eba8330a06bb0dead4abf955429.jpg

 

Hello Shellseeker, do you know what type of denticle that is?

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Shellseeker
6 hours ago, josephstrizhak said:

Hello Shellseeker, do you know what type of denticle that is?

Unfortunately not, I have never found another like it.... but sort of consider it to be in the miocene bramble shark family. I will jiggle @sixgill pete to check for any additional insights.   Jack

 

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ynot
2 minutes ago, Shellseeker said:

Unfortunately not, I have never found another like it.... but sort of consider it to be in the miocene bramble shark family. I will jiggle @sixgill pete to check for any additional insights.   Jack

 

@MarcoSr. has told Me that shark denticles are very small.  

This is most likely a ray or skate denticles.

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KimTexan
On 1/4/2018 at 12:35 PM, hrguy54 said:

A few years ago I was collecting at a site that was slowly being developed for a housing tract. It was less than a mile from my home (in a suburb of Dayton, OH) and at a highly visible intersection. The hillside that had been dug out was rich with a wide variety of Ordivician fossils. It was one of my main sources for several years. A police car stopped and the 2 policemen who got out asked me what I was doing, where I lived, etc. I simply said "collecting fossils", they looked at each other quizzically and asked, "What's that?". I was a bit dumbstruck but pulled a few out of my bag and showed them. I told them where I lived as I did so. They still didn't appear to understand about the fossils.

 

I thought they were playing with me. Not yet sure of the situation and being a Human Resource person, I gave them my "politically-correct, hopefully less offensive to the Creationist" description of a fossil, starting with "Scientists believe....", including that they were thought to be over 400 million years old. They pondered what I said and re-examined the fossils in their hands. One of them asked me what I  believe. I responded that I believe the scientists, thinking it had taken a weird turn, and still hoping to see them start laughing. They never did. They walked away from me about 20 feet and huddled, speaking seriously. They soon returned, still looking at me suspiciously, handed the fossils back to me and told me to be careful. Then got in their vehicle and drove away. I was left wondering what had just happened.

 

A few months later I was at the same site and a lone policeman pulled up (same police force) and asked the same initial question. He however soon told me that he had taken a few Geology courses in college and was excited to see what I had found. I gave him several for his son. My faith in the city was restored. Somewhat.

There was a freeway expansion a year or so ago where they dug up vast amounts of rock from the Austin Chalk Formation and dumped them in a field along the freeway a few miles away. I wanted to check out what had been dug up. So I pulled over on the sevice road and hunted for an hour or so.

 

I was walking back to my car with my bag and arms loaded when a Texas state trooper pulled up. I thought I was busted. I had no idea who owned the field, but there weren’t any signs or fencing or anything so I figured it was ok and no one would mind. The piles of rock were just sitting there weathering and growin grass on top of the piles.

The officer came over to me and asked if everything was alright. I told him yes, I was just looking for fossils. He was curious to see what I had found. He said he was glad to know I was ok, because he thought I might be having car trouble. He then got back in his truck and drove away. He was very pleasant and friendly.

Thank goodness I wasn’t in trouble! 

 

I usually hunt in pretty remote remote places. I tend to see more critters than people. Usually the humans I do see are fellow fossil hunters. I like to stop and talk with them. This part of Texas is new to me and I’m still learning a lot. Often they help educate me a little and share info about what can be found in different areas or inform me of things to watch out for. Also seeing what they are finding helps me know what to look for in that area. Once a guy I met in a river gave me his name and number and ask me to call him if I’d like to go hunting. Another time I got asked out! I declined. I’m pretty friendly and laid back, but I am usually taken back a bit when such things happen. I guess some people interpret friendliness as interested. If I were looking for love, romance or a good time I wouldn’t be looking for it in a remote creek. LOL. It still makes me laugh. I just have to walk away chuckling to myself when it happens.

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josephstrizhak
4 hours ago, Shellseeker said:

Unfortunately not, I have never found another like it.... but sort of consider it to be in the miocene bramble shark family. I will jiggle @sixgill pete to check for any additional insights.   Jack

 

 

I've seen a similar denticle from the late Campanian of New Jersey. This may suggest that your denticle could be from something that already came into existence during the Cretaceous. It's on post #17 of this thread: 

 

 

 

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stats

I was collecting in a road cut in Kansas a few years ago. A man in a truck stopped and asked what I was doing. I told him I was collecting fossils. We talked for about 10 minutes and I showed him a few I had found. He said he owned some of the surrounding land and pointed to the top of a nearby hill that had fossils. He gave me directions to get over there. It was a rich deposit. I collect there now a few times a year when I'm visiting. Very nice guy, unfortunately I haven't seen him since.

I also collect Mazon Creek fossils and have many of the common plants (and jellyfish). I bring some on trips and give some to the workers in rock shops. They have many times given me something in return or we chat for a while and they let me know of nearby localities. It pays to be generous!

Cheers,
Rich

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