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It's 8:30am, below freezing, and cloudy - the perfect time to hike up a mountain to collect fossils!

 

A rock-hounding buddy of mine recently stumbled upon a hash layer on one of the hikes we've done in Montana, and kindly offered to show me. Unfortunately the layer wasn't at the beginning of the trail, rather the end, so we had to climb 1,900 ft (6 statue of liberty's) and millions of years in geology to get to it - nature is rarely conducive to human ambition. 

 

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After the short (2.5 mile) but steep hike, we made it to rock slides where the layer was being eroded and immediately began spotting plates of brachiopod hash - I can't believe I missed them before! Based on the geologic map of the area, I suspect these are Late Devonian-Early Mississippian in age. Wacking my geologic pick into the hill to carefully climb the steep slopes of the rockfalls, I began spotting some nice specimens. They were preserved in a pretty powder blue, and easy to spot against the dark matrix of the ancient sea floor. Unfortunately a lot of them appeared smashed in their tumbling down the hill. I loaded up my backpack with probably 40-50 lbs of rock, which in hindsight was not the best decision I've ever made. Here are some of the more interesting pieces (I don't know them any more precisely than "brachiopod", feel free to chime in brach fans):

 

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I was especially hoping to find a winged brach - I didn't find a nice one - but my friend generously gifted me one he found minutes after I mentioned hoping to find one. 

 

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Hope you enjoyed! I'll be headed back to Texas where I have more trips in mind...

Edited by ThePhysicist
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"Argumentation cannot suffice for the discovery of new work, since the subtlety of Nature is greater many times than the subtlety of argument." - Carl Sagan

"I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there." - Richard Feynman

 

Collections: Hell Creek/Lance | Dinosaurs | Sharks | SquamatesPost Oak Creek | North Sulphur RiverLee Creek | Aguja | Permian | Devonian | Triassic | Harding Sandstone

Instagram: @thephysicist_tff

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What an adventure! My family hates winter hunting but I don’t think there’s any better hunting weather than the winter. You can layer up and strip down layers as you work up body heat from all the activity. And boy, would you feel warm after climbing 1900 ft! Crisp, cool, pest-free air. No snakes, mosquitoes, brush. Such pretty blue color. And the mountain view… 

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16 hours ago, ThePhysicist said:

It's 8:30am, below freezing, and cloudy - the perfect time to hike up a mountain to collect fossils!


Sorry, but I respectfully disagree whole heartedly with this statement!  🥶


Still, you found a lot of nice brachiopod hash plates, and the view is impressive. It MIGHT have been worth braving the cold for. :P 
 

Now, I’ll go back to hibernating indoors and avoiding the cold weather. I’ll have to drink a hot cup of cocoa just to warm up after reading this! 

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The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.  -Neil deGrasse Tyson

 

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't. -Bill Nye (The Science Guy)

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19 hours ago, patelinho7 said:

What an adventure! My family hates winter hunting but I don’t think there’s any better hunting weather than the winter. You can layer up and strip down layers as you work up body heat from all the activity. And boy, would you feel warm after climbing 1900 ft! Crisp, cool, pest-free air. No snakes, mosquitoes, brush. Such pretty blue color. And the mountain view… 

Exactly, by the end I was down to my t-shirt!

 

9 hours ago, grandpa said:

What fun!  What was the closest town?

Bozeman

 

3 hours ago, FossilNerd said:

Now, I’ll go back to hibernating indoors and avoiding the cold weather. I’ll have to drink a hot cup of cocoa just to warm up after reading this! 

I'm definitely looking forward to warmer weather, and hot cocoa sounds real good right now :) 

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"Argumentation cannot suffice for the discovery of new work, since the subtlety of Nature is greater many times than the subtlety of argument." - Carl Sagan

"I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there." - Richard Feynman

 

Collections: Hell Creek/Lance | Dinosaurs | Sharks | SquamatesPost Oak Creek | North Sulphur RiverLee Creek | Aguja | Permian | Devonian | Triassic | Harding Sandstone

Instagram: @thephysicist_tff

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We have something similar in the Wasatch mountain range here in Utah. While climbing Mt. Timpanogos, at 10K feet, I saw right in the middle of the trail a shiny black brachiopod embedded in a rock, polished by thousands of footsteps. Oh how I tried to wiggle it free. It was stuck tight. So I removed my watch and took a pic of the fossil beside my watch for scale and then proceeded on to the summit at 11,753 feet. I don't know where that fossil pic got to but it was back in 2007.  But I certainly kept the summit pic.  I was turning 49 at the time...17 years ago. First real mountain I climbed but not the last.  I wasn't a serious fossil collector back then but knew right away what I was looking at and kept my eyes open on the descent. Found one that had weathered out in a rivulet pool of water at about 6, 000 feet right off the trail. 

 

Great memories  for me and as what I would expect this adventure of yours in Montana has provided you besides the finds. 40 plus pounds of matrix and fossils in the backpack. Ugh, that would have been tough on the knees going down. But a big smile nonetheless.  Congrats to you and your generous friend!

 

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