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PaleoNoel's Fossil Hunting Chronicles: Potomac of Maryland, April 2016


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I would consider 2016 to be the year that my fossil hunting career really took off, I had spent trips prior to this grooming and developing my skills and it began to show in this period.

My school vacations have always been the time where I've been able to get out into the field and go fossil hunting, this particular opportunity was afforded to me by my class trip to Washington D.C. which then lead into my April vacation. Having devised a plan to go fossil hunting before leaving, my dad picked me up at the end of the DC visit before the rest of the group took the grueling bus ride back to NH. From there we went south to Charles county, MD with the intention of going to Purse State Park in hopes of finding some Paleocene shark teeth. 

And find them we did! After parking, we walked down a trail which led down to the waterfront and a long strip of gravely beach. I soon found out just how bountiful this area could be when looking in the right places.

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At the end of the day we had found plenty of Shark's teeth and ray dental plates. The majority of the teeth came from various species of sand tiger sharks which patrolled the waters of the greater D.C. area 59 million years ago when it was covered by a warm shallow sea.

Here's the haul we had after a few hours collecting.

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DeepTimeIsotopes

Some awesome finds! I love the in-situ shots.

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1 minute ago, UtahFossilHunter said:

Some awesome finds! I love the in-situ shots.

Thanks! This was when I first began taking them with my Iphone camera.

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Day 2 proved to be an even more successful venture, for the first half we returned to Purse which proved equally plentiful as the day before. We continued to find the standard sand tiger teeth and ray plates, but after a couple hours we decided to have lunch back at the car. This proved more difficult than the walk down, as I chose to carry a ten pound block chock full of the common turritella shells and the clams. This single piece was an good example of what made up much of the banks of the river which the other fossils were eroding from.

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In the second half of day 2 we went up the road from Purse State Park to Douglas Point, our thought process being that there may be better and less picked over exposures in an area which I had not yet heard about online which would therefore have less publicity. If my memory serves me, the trail was about a mile and half down to the riverside. This beach was much different from the one we had previously visited, the sediment which made up the sand and gravel was far darker, there were fallen trees, driftwood and a significant amount of litter (we took out what we could, unfortunately we didn't have a trash bag). Despite the differences in outward appearance the production was similar. However, what set Douglas Point apart from Purse S.P. was the size and quality of the teeth my dad and I found there. Not only were the teeth generally larger and more pristine, but some specimens had colors that were quite unique when compared to the other site's. This is also the spot where I found my first crocodile tooth in my collection along with a few pieces of turtle shell. I was overjoyed to find this specimen. 

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Turtle shell fragment and ray plate

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Shark tooth in situ

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Another tooth (either goblin or sand tiger)

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Very nice. I really like the Paleocene teeth from the Potomac. Especially the micros.

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16 minutes ago, sixgill pete said:

Very nice. I really like the Paleocene teeth from the Potomac. Especially the micros.

Agreed! Although at that point in my fossil hunting career the idea of collecting matrix to bring home and sort through would've never crossed my mind. However, these sites did yield some of the smallest teeth that I've ever picked up. 

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Here are some pictures I took at home of my best finds from this trip. I believe this trip was important for my development as a fossil hunter, helping to hone my abilities in finding teeth and other fossils. And although we never found any Otodus teeth, I did find my first crocodile tooth which I was really happy about and still cherish to this day. 

Striatolamia-These were two of the best teeth we found from the site, they have a light, sandy colored root and the crown is a beautiful grey-blue.

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Ratfish/Chimaera spine (tentative about this id, let me know what you think)

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Three Turritella steinkerns & two pieces of turtle shell

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And last but not least; Here's my crocodile tooth (Eosuchus or Thoracosaurus)

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To conclude this report I'd like to say thanks to everyone reading this and be on the lookout for my next one. I'll probably write about this past summer's trip to Wyoming to collect Lance fm dinosaurs and other animals. 

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DeepTimeIsotopes
9 minutes ago, PaleoNoel said:

To conclude this report I'd like to say thanks to everyone reading this and be on the lookout for my next one. I'll probably write about this past summer's trip to Wyoming to collect Lance fm dinosaurs and other animals. 

Let’s see it!

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32 minutes ago, PaleoNoel said:

To conclude this report I'd like to say thanks to everyone reading this and be on the lookout for my next one. I'll probably write about this past summer's trip to Wyoming to collect Lance fm dinosaurs and other animals. 

Yes, I’d love to see that. I have been on a dino dig with a university twice in Wyoming’s Lance formation. Although you don’t get to keep what you find. Not sure what I’d do with or where I’d put a 52 inch Edmontosaurs femur, or any other large bones anyway.

Nice trip report. I enjoyed it.

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10 hours ago, PaleoNoel said:

Ratfish/Chimaera spine (tentative about this id, let me know what you think)

Modern catfish fin spine.

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10 hours ago, UtahFossilHunter said:

Let’s see it!

 

10 hours ago, KimTexan said:

Yes, I’d love to see that. I have been on a dino dig with a university twice in Wyoming’s Lance formation. Although you don’t get to keep what you find. Not sure what I’d do with or where I’d put a 52 inch Edmontosaurs femur, or any other large bones anyway.

Nice trip report. I enjoyed it.

 

3 hours ago, jcbshark said:

Excellent finds, congrats :fistbump:

Thanks everyone! I'll be writing one today, but it may be a bit more lengthy than this one!

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Looks like You did good!

Nice finds.

Not sure about the spine, could be fish fin spine. You should post it in fossil ID section.

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  • 1 month later...
The Amateur Paleontologist
On 28/12/2018 at 5:56 AM, PaleoNoel said:

And last but not least; Here's my crocodile tooth (Eosuchus or Thoracosaurus)

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Oooh nice one :) 

-Christian

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11 hours ago, The Amateur Paleontologist said:

Oooh nice one :) 

-Christian

Thanks! Surprisingly it's still the largest crocodilian tooth in my collection. However it would have been smaller than this tooth I found my first day in Wyoming last summer.  About 1.5 cm missing the end of the crown.

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