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Trip Reports

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three months of adventures squeezed in


Jared C

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In the last three and a half months I'd say I finally had the true college experience - always tired, hungry, and getting strangled by ochem 2 :coffee:. But, my last final was yesterday, so time for a long overdue trip report. 

 

I'll go consecutively, with brief notes on the sights and interests encountered along the way, culminating with a prep update on the Plesiosaur I found over the summer with @Ptychodus04 and Joe. 

Unfortunately, the block containing the Coniasaur from the same trip hasn't been scanned yet. I'm also twiddling my thumbs for updates 

 

August/September:

At this point, I was still settling in after moving to college station, and was keen to assess the potential the area had. Being so close to Whiskey Bridge, I made 4-5 trips. Eocene stuff isn't my forte but I found an interest in it quickly. Here are some highlights:

 

Two prongs from the primitive cuttlefish Belosaepia ungula. I was fortunate to find both of these the same day. These occasionally get nicknamed "cuttlefish beaks" due to their superficial resemblance, but are really the "horns" that tipped the posterior end of the cuttlebone. This is a vestigial character that some modern cuttlefish genera still have traces of. 

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For those who are interested in Belosaepia, here's a link to a webpage Professor Thomas Yancey made of the animal. You might also want to read his paper on it. 

https://lakeneosho.org/Belosaepia/index.html

 

 

Some other Eocene highlights:

Pristis lathami sawfish rostral tooth. Another smaller one was found the same day as the Belosaepia specimens

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Exciting in situ of Galeocerdo eaglesomi

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Once removed:

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October rolled around the hunts dropped off for the most part, as now the semester was picking up. Despite this, excavations became the theme of October. The best of which was finally, after long last, exhuming the bulk of the mosasaur from last year.

 

For those who haven't seen the trip report or updates, in September 2021 my step brother and I found a basal mosasaur at my favorite Eagle Ford site. Those weekends were used for extracting the cervical verts and back of the skull, which was initially all that was revealed. In the February that followed, I poked around, just in case there was more bone, and found the end of the tail. This led us to tackle the site again a week later, and we immediately found more than the two of us could handle. We woodglued the block back and crossed our fingers that it would outlast the weather. Thankfully, it did, and with my dad, @JohnJ and @LSCHNELLE , we retrieved what might be the rest of the skull, as well as (hopefully) a significant portion of the body locked away in some large blocks in a heinous hail mary. It was epic, and only possible due to the leadership and excavation savvy of John and Lee.

Due to its research interest, I can't share photos yet, but thankfully attention on the specimen is strong and consistent now, and prep is in full swing. 

 

However! One thing I can show is a super odd Ptychodus tooth dug up by John as we trenched around the skeleton:

 

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Turns out it was pretty lucky Lee was there, he's the forums go-to Ptychodus expert and speculates that this may be P. anonymous symphyseal (none are known of yet). Ptychodus researcher Shawn Hamm said he hasn't seen something like it yet. THAT is some good bycatch!

 

The weekend after, I joined in briefly on a Plesiosaur dig in an unusual location with @GPayton and some SMU folks. That was also exciting - but can't share photos of that either (yet!) :)

 

The October paleo scene rounded out with a short hunt at an old favorite spot. Preservation and quantity weren't of their typical splendor, but I was still very happy to see these, especially in such a scenic area. 

 

First: a heartbreaker:

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Next, a reworked P. mortoni tooth found in Pleistocene matrix:

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Other highlights:

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Followed by a monster P. martini / P. marginalis tooth. Very river rolled, and the strata that would support both is in the area:

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November/December:

Academically the most difficult two months I've had, so definitely needed some creek therapy  :BigSmile:

 

Here are the results:

 

First - a visit to my favorite comanche peak fm spot. This tiny, extremely rich site has yielded dozens of Heteraster c.f. texanus, a Tetragramma sp. that I've posted on here before, and a monster Tetragramma my step brother Christian found (which I just realized I haven't shown here before - here it is the day of, vs after prep). 

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That was over the summer. This time, I brought some good friends to the site for a night hunt. They're my rock climbing friends who were interested in the boulders of the area, and I thought I'd introduce them to paleo as well. Our best result this time was probably this Heteraster weathering out of its little pocket. It was a cool in situ. 

 

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November also found me out in my best Austin chalk site.

This was the area I found a Hadrodus sp. incisor in August of 2021. At the time, I was still quite a noob, so assumed that I was in the Ozan. Rather, this site is a contact of the Austin chalk and Ozan. I'm unsure of the member of the Austin chalk here, but I don't think it's the upper most. My suspicion is Dessau. The Hadrodus situation is complex - it was found as very, very recently tumbled out of formation, so technically in float, but I'm 99% sure now it originated in the Austin chalk present, rather than the Ozan layer above. This opens up the possibility of H. marshi, known only from the holotype Othniel Charles Marsh found "somwhere" in the smoky hill chalk, the Kansas equivalent to the Austin chalk, and thus even rarer than my previous ID of H. hewletti, known from the Mooreville chalk (roughly equivalent in age to the Ozan). That said, H. priscus has an assumed range that extends this far as well. The research on the genus is sparse, so there's a lot work I get to do on my end to organize the available information and make my own determinations. 

 

Regardless, I visited the site again and it was nautiloid galore. I found 6-7 Eutrephoceras coming out of the marl-y chalk in a small area. IMG-6727.thumb.jpg.002c8e326b4e25c060de0b4372972b7e.jpgIMG-6728.thumb.jpg.00e60144b537028139a2f56a58956da6.jpg

 

Another find of note from this site was my first Pycnodont tooth (Hadrodus being a Pycnodont has fallen out of opinion, so this now is my first):

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My only other cretaceous hunt in November/December was a brief lower Eagle Ford excursion. Here are the notable results:

 

Cretoxyrhina mantelli and Ptychodus occidentalis (the latter found in gravel)

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Also worth note - this pretty scene after popping out a Ptychodus tooth that's been sitting on my desk at home for some time. This one was found at the same site as the Pliosaur tooth in my albums:

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Thanksgiving break had me in the East Texas Miocene, hunting petrified wood of the Catahoula fm. The scenery of the land there, especially during fall, is astonishing. I will include some landscape photos in a following post in response to this. This honker piece of palm wood was my best find. 

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One thing to note as well is the Oklahoma Permian matrix gifted to me by @historianmichael. It is astonishingly rich, full of Orthocanthus teeth. My favorite find so far is the jaw fragment below, which I should try to get ID'd soon. This matrix kept me sane on the days weeks I couldn't make it out.

IMG-6741.thumb.jpg.e630149070eb02fe2c88ffe7b6eaa35e.jpg

 

 

 

My final highlight is the prep progress I made this semester on the block of Plesiosaur vertebrae co-discovered with Joe and @Ptychodus04. A&M, I must admit, is quite lacking in their vert paleo realm (though it's great for inverts). Their paleo prep lab has no equipment, so, I got to work with an exacto knife and, all things considered, I think this specimen is turning out well :)

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That's it for the last few months. That said, I'm ready to take a nap and then decompress by hitting some freezing creeks, trying to find the rest of the Plesiosaur above, and romping around huge Ozan exposures for the next few weeks :WootSign:

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