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My beautiful wife scheduled a three night stay at a cabin in a Thousand Trails campground near Lake Texoma.  We were to arrive on Sunday and check out on Wednesday.  So, I figured that, since I hadn't been fossil hunting in months, I would schedule a trip to central Texas to follow the Texoma trip.  I set up a rendezvous point in Fairfield, Texas to meet my dad on that Wednesday, and head off toward Brownwood and Cisco, Texas.  I figured that the fossil hunt would begin then.  But that's not quite how things played out...


My two oldest daughters and I met my wife and youngest daughter in Salado, Texas on Saturday, October 14th.  They had left the previous morning to spend a day with my mother-in-law in Waco and Salado.  We spent Saturday night in Salado and then parted ways with my mother-in-law on Sunday morning and headed toward Lake Texoma.  As we drove through Waco, my wife asked if we wanted to take a detour.  She had never been to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas, and she thought the girls would enjoy seeing the dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River.  I got really excited.  I hadn't been there since I was a kid, and at that time, the river was high and the tracks were not visible.  So we adjusted our GPS to take us to Glen Rose.  We pulled in and stopped off to get a map of the park.  We then drove straight to the spot where Roland T. Bird made his first discovery.  It was amazing.  The water was low and gave us a clear view of the trackways in the river.








Above you can see both the sauropod and theropod tracks,  They are a little obscured by mud, but they are still very visible.  We left the R.T. Bird site and went to another place called the Ballroom Track Site, where so many tracks go in so many directions, it was like the theropods were dancing.  It was in slightly deeper water, but it was still beautiful!  The rippling water was crystal clear and the girls couldn't help but get into the water, even as a cool front brought chilly winds down the river valley.






My wife loved it.  She told me that Dinosaur Valley State Park was our next camping destination.  Before we left, we stopped off by the iconic Tyrannosaurus Rex and Apatosaurus models built for the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York.  They were permanently installed at Dinosaur Valley in 1970 at the park's dedication.




We left Dinosaur Valley and drove the rest of the way to our cabin at Lake Texoma, arriving just after dark.  We settled in and tried to decide what we wanted to do the next day.  It was Monday, and we figured there had to be something for the girls to do nearby.  We quickly discovered that our options were limited.  It had turned too cold for the pool at the campgrounds.  The putt-putt at the campground was okay, but the girls quickly tired of it.  And most of the other recreational equipment was not well kept, or available.  So, we decided to leave the campground to find something for the girls to do.  I had mentioned that I would like to check out the Permian site at Waurika, Oklahoma.  It was only two hours away, and this was the closest I had ever been to the site.  My wife was a bit miffed by the lack of things for the girls to do, so she said "Let's go."  I jumped at the chance.


I had done no research on the site, other than what I had read about it on TFF.  I wish I had consulted the TFF experts before we left, because I had no idea of the best places to look.  We focused mainly on the sandy floor and reddish rocks, and found nothing.  When we returned to the cabin, I asked where we should have looked.  Jesuslover340 informed me that the gray colored exposures were the places to find the best material.  So, we came away empty handed, with only one major discovery.  My wife wouldn't let me take it home, though...




Continued in next post...


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We now had the question of what to do on Tuesday.  We decided to head to Gainsville, Texas and visit the Frank Buck Zoo.  It was a very nice little zoo, with some interesting Hollywood history.  I recommend it.  I even bought an ostrich egg in the gift shop!  Probably an impulse buy, but I'm slowly setting up a "cabinet of curiosities" at home.  An ostrich egg is a perfect addition!


After the zoo, we still had the whole afternoon to fill up.  I mentioned that we could find shark teeth in Post Oak Creek in Sherman, Texas.  My wife said "Let's go!", so I jumped at the chance again.  It was an impromptu decision again, and we were woefully unprepared.  My wife went into Big Lots and found some plastic containers with holes that could act as sieves.  And we were off to Sherman!


I had never been to Post Oak Creek, and I couldn't wait to get started.  We spent about three hours sifting through the sandy creek bed.  My kids loved it, although the four-year-old lost interest and played smartphone games for about two hours.  The other two would excitedly shout "SHARK TOOTH!" every time they came across one.  We had some really good luck.  I found two Ptychodus whipplei  teeth.  The specimens are shown below.  The scale is in centimeters.




Most of the shark teeth we found were damaged, but hey, we didn't care!






We found some shark and fish verts, as well...




Here are some interesting corals...




I believe that these are rodent teeth, but I'm unsure of the age.  I don't know if they are fossilized or not...




And finally, multiple bones and fragments...




Continued in next post...



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Wednesday morning we woke up, packed up and headed south toward home.  We drove through Dallas and made it to Fairfield around 1:00 pm.  We met up with my dad in a restaurant parking lot, and after saying goodbye to the wife and kids, we headed west toward Cisco, Texas. 


In order to keep the trip cheap, we arranged to stay at my aunt's house in Cisco.  So we had free lodging and free dinners!  We arrived just before dark, and had an amazing dinner with Aunt Suzie, my cousin and her husband.  We turned in around 10:00 pm, excited about where we were going the following morning.  My dad played football for Brownwood High School back in the 60's.  One of his teammates still lives north of Brownwood and owns well over 1,000 acres north of Lake Brownwood.  My dad had contacted him and he told us to come out and hunt fossils as long as we wanted to.  He said he had tons of them on the property.  They were so numerous that he had used some of them as road material for a section of his roadway.


He gave us the security number for the front gate and told us to come on in and start hunting.  We arrived at his property and we let ourselves in.  He had a cattle tank near the entrance that was dug into the ground.  It was surrounded by rocks and loose gravel.  As we began poking around, it became obvious that his property sat in the middle of a Carboniferous reef, made up of millions of Caninia sp. corals.  They were everywhere!  Below you can see the layer of corals emerging from the rocks.




Some of them were huge, two inches in diameter and eight to ten inches long, when they could by found whole.  These below are smaller, but more complete than some of the others.




We also found some other types of fossils in the cattle tank.  We found crinoid brachials and variously textured calyx plates.






It's getting late, so I'll postpone the fun until tomorrow evening...

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Some great finds. Even if you didn’t find anything to see the footprints must have been amazing on its own. 


Yep, :popcorn::popcorn:

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We searched the cattle tank for a few more minutes until the landowner showed up.  He was driving a utility vehicle and asked if me and my dad would like to ride to some other sites on his land.  He drove us to several more locations, mainly dug out cattle tanks and creek beds.  The creek he took us to was amazing.  The bedrock base level was filled with in situ Caninia sp.  Large and small blocks had weathered loose and were ripe for the picking.  After showing us several more sites, he drove us back to the entrance where we had parked.  He had to go in to work, but he told us the land was ours for as long as we wanted.  We wound up staying for approximately eight hours, and found some beautiful specimens.  We also had some visitors, looking for handouts...




Here are some of the weathered out coral blocks from the creek bed.








We also found other corals in the Caninia sp. blocks.  I believe they are Chladochonus or Syringopora.






We also found many well preserved Neospiriferid and Productid brachiopods.






We also found some crinoid stems showing predation/disease markings...




Here are some encrusting bryozoans, two encrusting crinoid columnals...




And finally, here are some well preserved urchin (Archaeocidaris (?)) spines...




Continued in next post...

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We headed back to Aunt Suzie's house and had another awesome dinner.  We talked it over and decided that we wanted to go back out to the Wilson Clay Pits.  We've been several times in the past and were never disappointed.  We woke early and went downstairs and found Aunt Suzie waiting to go out with us!  My dad and his sister had gone on regular fossil hunting trips with my grandparents when they were kids.  She hadn't been hunting in many years, and she was excited to go. 


My only concern was the barbed wire fence that you have to scoot under to access the site.  When we arrived, I was happy to discover that a gate on the west side of the property had been left unlocked, and we simply walked in.  The site didn't disappoint this time either.  We spent about four hours wandering around, and found many interesting specimens.


Here are brother and sister, on the hunt!




I believe that this is the shattered remains of a crinoid calyx, though I have no idea which type...




Here are some crinoid calyx basal plates, still articulated...




And here are some disarticulated crinoid calyx plates...




We found many small hash plates, with a lot of various animals displayed...






We found numerous brachiopods including these Neospirifers...




...and these Neochonetes sp...




We also stumbled across a specimen that looks like an oyster shell, but is VERY large.  It was sitting on top of some boulders, and it was broken into three pieces.  It was as if someone had chipped it from the boulders, but had then left the fragments piled on the rocks.  It looks incomplete and I'm not sure what it is.  If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know...




My favorite finds from the Wilson Clay Pits were the two Petalodus teeth that I stumbled across, not more than six feet apart.  One was small, but mostly complete, including the root.  The other was larger, but only included the crown.




We left the site around noon and headed into Brownwood for lunch.  Then we headed back toward Cisco, but not before stopping off at a site that had interested me for awhile.  I only had about five minutes to look around, and, even though the site showed to be Harpersville Formation on the Texas Geologic Map, it showed little resemblance to the Wilson Clay Pit.  I did find a small fern though.  I will have to visit the site again, when I have more time.




This trip was so much fun, not just for me, but for my wife, kids, dad and aunt.  We all got in on the fun!  It just goes to show that sometimes unplanned stops can be as fun as those that are planned.


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Nice finds and trip report!

Nice that You got to share it with the family.

Thanks for sharing with Us.

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That Caninia reef (Caninia-Syringopora reef?) is amazing. Do you have any more in situ photos?

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Thanks everyone.  I DO love Texas!


Missourian, I have one other photo of the reef but it looks pretty much like the first.  They were both taken a few feet apart.  I would like to go back to that property with a power-washer though.  The bedrock of the creek (not where I took the in situ pictures) was absolutely covered in Caninia, but it was obscured by a thin layer of mud.  I would like to wash down a big section of it and get some pictures.  The creek was about 15 feet wide and the Caninia covered a majority of the bedrock  for 100 yards or so!

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