Jump to content
Nimravis

It's Summer And You Want To Go To Pit 11 For Mazon Creek Fossils

Recommended Posts

jdp
1 hour ago, fiddlehead said:

Andrew Hay and I arranged the present Mazonia-Braidwood fossil pass system with the Illinois State Museum. We knew at the time it was never going to work as far as getting any scientifically important specimens. It was only a way to get the IDNR to approve of anything being removed from a state park. Mazonia-Braidwood is the only Illinois state park where anything can be removed. You can not legally remove even a mushroom in the other parks. Presently, I do not know if anyone is even looking at the passes or any reports they might generate. No one has ever contacted me or The Field Museum because of something reported from a pass. A little history of large scale excavation at the park shows some of the problems. In the area called the tipple, from the hills to the road was disked up by a farmer/fossil collector.  It was done through the efforts of the former Mayor of Wilmington using political intrigue, and the willingness of a farmer to do it for free. It showed that discing did very little good. And it quickly grew over. The area known as ESCONI Hill, was plowed up by the state. But the area at that site was not very large, and from what I've seen it seems to have grow back faster and better than the unplowed areas. As far as scientifically important specimens getting to researchers, I don't think it has been much of a problem due to any pass system. The biggest problem is scientifically important specimens (SIS) are often not pretty and discarded. In nearly 20 years I don't recall ever not getting a SIS donated or purchased by me (at a discount) for The Field Museum collections once I had seen it. There are lots of things that makes a fossil a SIS but fortunately  beauty is seldom a factor. And though I would not mind it, I'm seldom shown anything pretty to be identified. Bottom line, from my point-of-view, the  Mazonia-Braidwood fossil pass system works i.e., the IDNR still lets people collect. But for this to continue working depends on collectors being treated honestly and with respect by professionals. What is important to me is that SIS are accessible for research and knowledge is shared. And hopefully people will have an area to be able to find plenty of pretty fossils in the future.

 

I hope this was helpful

Jack

Very helpful. Thanks for sharing your time to explain some of this. Much of this information is really hard to get even from the professionals who curate these specimens, as the connections with the actual collectors are relatively tenuous or just simply not discussed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JohnJ

Here in Texas, and other places, goat herds are sometimes used to manage vegetation and heavy undergrowth.  There might be specific areas they could be used that would allow greater erosion at minimal cost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Kmiecik
18 hours ago, stats said:

I see you used to exhibit at the annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show.  Mark, come out sometime. We have some lively discussions.  Maybe we met in the past, as I have been a member since about 2004.  You can see the topics of the general and paleontology meetings on our website at www.esconi.org.

 

Cheers,

Rich

I don't get out much because of my poor health, but I quit smoking about a month ago and if get to the point where I can walk and breathe at the same time I may take you up on that. I was a member until about 2004-ish. You can probably just check some old member lists to find out. I used to attend just the paleo meetings -- where are they held now? I was a member after John Goode became president for three or four years if my memory is correct.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Kmiecik
4 hours ago, fiddlehead said:

Andrew Hay and I arranged the present Mazonia-Braidwood fossil pass system with the Illinois State Museum. We knew at the time it was never going to work as far as getting any scientifically important specimens. It was only a way to get the IDNR to approve of anything being removed from a state park. Mazonia-Braidwood is the only Illinois state park where anything can be removed. You can not legally remove even a mushroom in the other parks. Presently, I do not know if anyone is even looking at the passes or any reports they might generate. No one has ever contacted me or The Field Museum because of something reported from a pass. A little history of large scale excavation at the park shows some of the problems. In the area called the tipple, from the hills to the road was disked up by a farmer/fossil collector.  It was done through the efforts of the former Mayor of Wilmington using political intrigue, and the willingness of a farmer to do it for free. It showed that discing did very little good. And it quickly grew over. The area known as ESCONI Hill, was plowed up by the state. But the area at that site was not very large, and from what I've seen it seems to have grow back faster and better than the unplowed areas. As far as scientifically important specimens getting to researchers, I don't think it has been much of a problem due to any pass system. The biggest problem is scientifically important specimens (SIS) are often not pretty and discarded. In nearly 20 years I don't recall ever not getting a SIS donated or purchased by me (at a discount) for The Field Museum collections once I had seen it. There are lots of things that makes a fossil a SIS but fortunately  beauty is seldom a factor. And though I would not mind it, I'm seldom shown anything pretty to be identified. Bottom line, from my point-of-view, the  Mazonia-Braidwood fossil pass system works i.e., the IDNR still lets people collect. But for this to continue working depends on collectors being treated honestly and with respect by professionals. What is important to me is that SIS are accessible for research and knowledge is shared. And hopefully people will have an area to be able to find plenty of pretty fossils in the future.

 

I hope this was helpful

Jack

And this is why I believe that fossil collecting should become an activity that requires licensing preceded by education and examination, like a driver's license. You don't get one until you've completed classroom and practical testing for at least a minimal level of competence. Part of the instruction would including identification of significant finds and the importance of their being studied in a scientific environment. This would get at least some SIS into the right hands. Twenty dollars annually for a State of Illinois fossil hunting license is affordable and would provide some of the funding to maintain facilities, which is currently funded, I believe, by fish and wildlife (fishing and hunting fees). It would be a fossil "hunting" license. (The beauty of fossil hunting is that they don't get up and run away when you shoot at them.) 

 

Bottom line: Education is the key. In Germany and some other countries you have to take a written and practical test to get a fishing license, and in Germany the fishing is very, very good because those who fish understand the importance of conservation and the balance of nature and how irresponsible action may destroy that balance. WE NEED TO EDUCATE THOSE WHO DO NOT TAKE IT UPON THEMSELVES TO LEARN. And those who know should feel an obligation to inform those who don't. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stats
2 hours ago, Mark Kmiecik said:

I don't get out much because of my poor health, but I quit smoking about a month ago and if get to the point where I can walk and breathe at the same time I may take you up on that. I was a member until about 2004-ish. You can probably just check some old member lists to find out. I used to attend just the paleo meetings -- where are they held now? I was a member after John Goode became president for three or four years if my memory is correct.

Sounds great!  That was about the time i joined, so we may have met.  I seem to remember someone named Mark in the beginning.  We still have all meetings at the College of DuPage.  In September, the general meeting is by the Collections Manager of Paleobotany at the Field Museum, Dr. Az Klymiuk.  She is speaking about fossil fungus.  Hope to see you or anyone else who's on this forum (or not on this forum)!  For the Paleo meeting, it is show and tell.  Unfortunately, I might have to miss that one.  It's always fun to see what people have found over the summer.

 

Cheers,

Rich

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark Kmiecik
3 minutes ago, stats said:

I seem to remember someone named Mark in the beginning.

Brown hair combed straight back, some grey, full beard, glasses. Usually in the back row on the right near the windows, shooting the bull with Rob Sula.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stats
13 hours ago, Mark Kmiecik said:

Brown hair combed straight back, some grey, full beard, glasses. Usually in the back row on the right near the windows, shooting the bull with Rob Sula.

Maybe.  Rob Sula moved out west about 4 or 5 years ago, a great guy.  This is getting a bit off topic, but did you know he was one of the people that discovered the Hell Creek Tanis site that seems to have evidence of the death and destruction caused by the meteor strike in the Yucatan at the K-Pg boundary?

 

Cheers,
Rich

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
digit
On 7/12/2019 at 11:37 AM, fiddlehead said:

Andrew Hay and I arranged the present Mazonia-Braidwood fossil pass system with the Illinois State Museum. We knew at the time it was never going to work as far as getting any scientifically important specimens. It was only a way to get the IDNR to approve of anything being removed from a state park. Mazonia-Braidwood is the only Illinois state park where anything can be removed.

My heartfelt thanks for your efforts in securing the fossil pass system for Mazonia-Braidwood. It is indeed a unique park where the incredible supply of concretions may be tapped by those who love hunting fossils. Likely it will continue to work as it as been set up but one day if all the planets align just right it would be spectacular if limited excavation by individual hunters with modest tools would be permitted in a section of the park. This method of putting the burden of effort on individual fossil hunters to work for their reward would make any discussion of having the state or county have to expend time and funds to maintain areas clear to enhance erosion a moot point.

 

One can dream that one day Fossil Rock Campground will re-open and allow fossil hunting out back or that  Mazonia-Braidwood would adopt such a system to allow handtools to be used in a limited section of the spoil piles. Till that time, fossil hunters wanted to experience this world-class Lagerstätte will just have to battle the ticks and search for places where the erosional forces bring these concretions back to the surface again.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
deutscheben
18 minutes ago, digit said:

My heartfelt thanks for your efforts in securing the fossil pass system for Mazonia-Braidwood. It is indeed a unique park where the incredible supply of concretions may be tapped by those who love hunting fossils. Likely it will continue to work as it as been set up but one day if all the planets align just right it would be spectacular if limited excavation by individual hunters with modest tools would be permitted in a section of the park. This method of putting the burden of effort on individual fossil hunters to work for their reward would make any discussion of having the state or county have to expend time and funds to maintain areas clear to enhance erosion a moot point.

 

One can dream that one day Fossil Rock Campground will re-open and allow fossil hunting out back or that  Mazonia-Braidwood would adopt such a system to allow handtools to be used in a limited section of the spoil piles. Till that time, fossil hunters wanted to experience this world-class Lagerstätte will just have to battle the ticks and search for places where the erosional forces bring these concretions back to the surface again.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

You have my thanks as well, @fiddlehead

Even though so many other collecting sites have vanished in the Mazon Creek area, the fact that we can look forward to collecting at Mazonia in perpetuity is a major accomplishment and I feel very lucky to be able to take advantage of it. 

 

Ken, I am familiar with an unfortunate example where digging got out of hand- Fowler Park in Indiana. Fossil collecting was permitted with no restrictions, but when I visited the area there were extensive and deep potholes off the major trails where people had dug up. Shortly after that they closed the park to all collecting, and when I spoke to park staff they mentioned irresponsible digging as one of the reasons for the ban. Maybe with better oversight or enforcement that could have been prevented, but I definitely worry about opening the Pandora's Box of digging. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
digit

Indeed. It would be a great shame to mess the deal we have currently. If the digging and "potholing" could be restricted to a small area specifically set aside for such things that would not be visible to the others using the area for fishing or (non-fossil) hunting, then that would be ideal. I wouldn't want to push for such a thing if it came with a chance that the area could be closed completely for concretion gathering.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stats
On 7/13/2019 at 2:58 PM, digit said:

Indeed. It would be a great shame to mess the deal we have currently. If the digging and "potholing" could be restricted to a small area specifically set aside for such things that would not be visible to the others using the area for fishing or (non-fossil) hunting, then that would be ideal. I wouldn't want to push for such a thing if it came with a chance that the area could be closed completely for concretion gathering.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Jack @fiddlehead, thank you for all your efforts over the years!  Being able to collect in Pit 11 is an invaluable experience!  Oh, and also thanks for your awesome books!  I know we are all excited about the new plant book!

 

I would hate to lose access to Pit 11.   I visit it maybe 10 times each year and while you can't find concretions very easy anymore, you can still come away with some quality fossils.   A good part of the enjoyment is the hunt for the precious concretions.  Additionally, it's great to get out in nature in the spring almost every weekend and watch everything wake up.

 

Cheers,

Rich

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TheRocksWillShoutHisGlory
On 7/12/2019 at 10:37 AM, fiddlehead said:

Andrew Hay and I arranged the present Mazonia-Braidwood fossil pass system with the Illinois State Museum. We knew at the time it was never going to work as far as getting any scientifically important specimens. It was only a way to get the IDNR to approve of anything being removed from a state park. Mazonia-Braidwood is the only Illinois state park where anything can be removed. You can not legally remove even a mushroom in the other parks. Presently, I do not know if anyone is even looking at the passes or any reports they might generate. No one has ever contacted me or The Field Museum because of something reported from a pass. A little history of large scale excavation at the park shows some of the problems. In the area called the tipple, from the hills to the road was disked up by a farmer/fossil collector.  It was done through the efforts of the former Mayor of Wilmington using political intrigue, and the willingness of a farmer to do it for free. It showed that discing did very little good. And it quickly grew over. The area known as ESCONI Hill, was plowed up by the state. But the area at that site was not very large, and from what I've seen it seems to have grow back faster and better than the unplowed areas. As far as scientifically important specimens getting to researchers, I don't think it has been much of a problem due to any pass system. The biggest problem is scientifically important specimens (SIS) are often not pretty and discarded. In nearly 20 years I don't recall ever not getting a SIS donated or purchased by me (at a discount) for The Field Museum collections once I had seen it. There are lots of things that makes a fossil a SIS but fortunately  beauty is seldom a factor. And though I would not mind it, I'm seldom shown anything pretty to be identified. Bottom line, from my point-of-view, the  Mazonia-Braidwood fossil pass system works i.e., the IDNR still lets people collect. But for this to continue working depends on collectors being treated honestly and with respect by professionals. What is important to me is that SIS are accessible for research and knowledge is shared. And hopefully people will have an area to be able to find plenty of pretty fossils in the future.

 

I hope this was helpful

Jack

 

In terms of the scientifically important specimens, I have read about special days when researchers would open their schedule to view specimens collectors would bring in.  I know the natural history museum in New York does this, and I may have read that you used to be able to do this at the ESCONI show back in the early 2000s?  My dream as a collector is to find a SIS, and while contact I have made with professionals virtually has always been positive, I think especially with Mazon creek, in hand observation is necessary.   If anyone is aware of a program like this please let me know.

 

A second thing that I think could help both the comfort level of collectors to donate their specimens, and the ability of the public to view them is for the Field Museum to have an online gallery like the Peabody Museum does, and for the Illinois state museum to update theirs.  While my dream is for a find of mine to advance science, my fear is to donate a fossil thinking it will be useful, only to have it sit in a drawer in an off limits collection.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
digit
1 hour ago, TheRocksWillShoutHisGlory said:

My dream as a collector is to find a SIS

Mine too. I have a few fish species sitting in bottles in various institutions (including the Smithsonian). One of these is even a new species I discovered and helped describe--a dream come true. :)

 

I've also been very glad with the cooperation us Florida fossil hunters have with the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) and professionals like Dr. Richard Hulbert (vertebrate paleontology) and Dr. Roger Portell (invertebrate paleontology) who make themselves available to interact with us non-professionals in identifying our finds (many times only from images of varying quality). I am pleased to have been able to find a few SIS from my fossil hunts on the Peace River and gladly donated these specimens when I found they would fill gaps in the museum's collection. For several years my wife Tammy and I have enjoyed volunteering at some of the dig sites in north-central Florida where all of the SIS go directly to the museum (though we can take all the photos we like). I'm currently working on a special project with one of the PhD candidates from UM and have been doing so for a few years. I find being able to work alongside the professionals so enriching that I'm working on moving up to the Gainesville area just so I can volunteer more. ;)

 

I think there are more like minded "amateur" fossil hunters out there with the motivation to work with the professionals than the professionals sometimes realize. One of the many goals of TFF is to encourage interaction between the professional paleontologists and avocational fossil hunters to the benefit of both. The Partners in Paleontology section is full of many fine examples of amateurs working with professionals and donating many SIS.

 

1 hour ago, TheRocksWillShoutHisGlory said:

While my dream is for a find of mine to advance science, my fear is to donate a fossil thinking it will be useful, only to have it sit in a drawer in an off limits collection.

This has long been a stated reason for non-cooperation. In the old days when interactions between the professionals and amateurs were much more contentious and adversarial. The argument from the professionals was that non-paleontologists (especially professional fossil hunters selling fossils) were laying claim to too many SIS that often ended up in private collections where they were lost to science. The argument from amateur fossil hunter against donating SIS is that science already has enough and a donated specimen would only collect dust in some dark corner of a collection.

 

The truth is there are more SIS specimens weathering out of the ground and being lost to everyone (science included) than can possibly be excavated by the professionals due to time and funding limitations. Cooperation with volunteers goes a long way toward serving both. The Montbrook site in north-central Florida is a great example of that where countless volunteer hours have helped to secure years worth of specimens from an important site currently on private property.

 

Advances in computing, storage, digital imagery, and the internet have made the dream of digitizing entire collections (paleontological and otherwise) an attainable dream these days. Many groups are working to expand the usefulness of their collections by not only making their database available online but also augmenting it with high quality imagery. This makes specimens available to researchers who may not even need to request access directly to the specimens. Many important specimens are being 3D scanned and it is possible for a researcher on the other side of the globe to 3D print a detailed copy of a specimen (even scaling tiny specimens for better viewing). In the same way that cheap DNA sequencing is revolutionizing the field of taxonomy, I feel we are on the verge of a digital revolution in paleontology making donated specimens much more globally available.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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.

×