Field Trips

January 13-14, 2007 - Cambrian Fossils, Cherokee Co, AL

This month BPS members made an overnight trip to Cherokee County, Alabama to collect from the Conasauga formation. With a good turn out (approx 20 members), ample fossils, and temperatures hovering in the low 70's, the universe cooperated in creating a great outdoor experience for us.

Stop 1 was a late Cambrian site, Dresdachian stage, (515 MYA) which yielded a number of Brooksella.

Stop 2 was in the Albertan stage approx 530MYA. Thanks to Capt. Steve, a short boat trip to the collecting site yielded some good specimens of trilobites which appear to be Kingstonia, Densonella, Norwoodella, and Cossella.

The evening of the first day was spent at a local Seafood house followed by a delightful evening spent at a cabin rented by BPS. We celebrated Jan and Lea Novaks birthdays; Lea baked her own cake, a Czech trilobite cake, which was great. This was followed by much good drink, a spirited backgammon game, Pro football on the big screen TV (yes we were roughing it), more good drink, talk and blues on the radio.

Day 2 was another warm day for January starting with a good and inexpensive breakfast at the local fish camp. There was more fossil hunting on the local beach followed by several hours of splitting shale on another beach which was also fruitful. Later in the afternoon, a number of members decided to scout some new sites which we were told about by a local fossil hunter we met at our first stop.
--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtesy Bill Fowler, Steve Corvin, and Vicki Lais)

members on fossil collecting trip
Everyone is anticipating a great day of collecting!

collecting fossils at lake

brooksella fossils
Samples of the nice brooksellas that were found.

Lea and Claire collecting fossils at lake
Lea and Claire surveying the area.

collecting fossils at lake and arrowhead
Steve found a nice point in the area.

fossil stromatolite
Nice stromatolite found by Vicki.

Bill and micro photos of fossil trilobites
Bill and some of his small trilobite finds under the microscope. Click photo (then click photo) for larger image.

collecting fossils at lake
The next site required a short boat trip. The shoreline in this area is composed of deteriorated Conasauga shale.

Nancy's brooksella fossils
Nancy found some nice (but decidedly muddy!) brooksella.

Steve with his fossil trilobite
Steven with his trilobite find.

Bob collecting fossil trilobites in shale
Searching for trilobites in the broken shale.

Bob found double brooksella fossils
Bob found a double brooksella.

searching for fossil trilobites
We learned the meaning of "don't leave any rock unturned" today . . .

fossil trilobite and brooksella

fossil trilobites
Samples of what was found on day 1.
fossil trilobites
More trilobite specimens from day 1.

searching for fossil trilobites
People were scattered all up and down the shoreline.

close up shot of fossils in rock
Another find by Bill, shown under the microscope.

small fossil trilobites under the microscope
A pebble filled with small trilobites, found by Bill.

Claire and her fossil trilobites, brooksella
Claire and her best finds of the day - very nice brooksella and trilobites.

fossil trilobite
Very nice trilobite found by Bobby.

fossil trilobites

fossil trilobites

shale layers containing fossil trilobites
On day 2 we collected at a different site. Large outcrops of Conasauga shale turned on edge held numerous trilobites.

Becky searching for fossil trilobites
Becky is extracting small hunks of the shale to carefully split apart.

fossil trilobite
Nice trilobite specimen found at this site, found by Pam and Bob.

fossil trilobites

fossil trilobites
Leisa was having very good luck splitting the shale.

David and Becky searching for fossil trilobites

fossil trilobite

fossil trilobites




February 17, 2007 - Mississippian Fossils, Franklin Co, AL

Once again, the word, "intrepid" comes to mind when BPS makes a midwinter trip! With the temps in the upper 30's and low 40's and 15-20 mph winds, it was a toss up as to which trip to this site was the coldest! In spite of the weather, around 23 fossil seekers came for the fun. Our first stop was under sunny skys and slight winds which brought the temperature up to a bearable level. This is a great site, featuring a prehistoric coral reef that always has excellent specimens washed out during the previous year. It's always a temptation go after the big boulders, but they're much larger than they look (like iceburgs) so we can only stand and drool and capture them on camera. At the first stop on the lake numerous specimens of blastoids, archimedes, and crinoid stems were found, and a very nice piece of petrified/ permineralized wood. Next we went to the other side of the lake where it was downright windy and bitter cold. More crinoid stems, straight cephalapods, and some unknown specimens were collected as well as great slabs of fossil hash. These make great teaching tools as well as attractive showpieces. We were also treated to the sight of Bill "walking on water!" Next we stopped at a roadcut which yielded a few more nice specimens, and a lot more icy wind. After one last site check, hunger was the issue, so most of the group organized to follow Greg, who always seems to know the best places to chow down, to a long enjoyable evening meal at a "secret" local steak house, After a great time of good food, rehashing the day and catching up, tired BPS members headed home.

--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtesy Jan Novak, Bill Fowler, Chris Lais, & Vicki Lais)

BPS members gathering for fossil trip

BPS hunting fossil corals

BPS hunting fossil corals

fossil coral

searching for fossil coral

fossil coral

fossil coral

fossil coral

fossil coral

BPS members ready to hunt fossils
On to the next stop, where we were given an overview of the collecting area.

hunting fossils on lakeshore
Shoreline of the lake, water is way down in winter.

fossil horned coral
Horned coral.

fossil sponge
A sponge?

fossil coral
Horned coral.

fossil shell
Nice brachiopod.

broken up pieces of fossil
Most rocks in the area consist of numerous small fragments of fossils. Most visible on this specimen are crinoid stems and bryozoan (or the netting material from archimedes.)

fossil blastoid pieces
Parts of very large, but broken, blastiods.

fossil pieces

fossil pieces

fossil gastropod
Tiny gastropod.

fossil gastropod

round fossil
Unknown round fossil.

unknown fossil

unknown fossil
Another unknown fossil.

fossil wood
Very nice specimen of petrified/permineralized wood.

Bill and fossil specimens
How'd he do that?? Bill has found several nice specimens. Click, then click again for larger image.

fossil cephalopod
Nice cephalopod.

fossil shells

fossil shells

hunting fossils on hillside
After the lake, we collected at a nearby roadcut.

fossil cephalapod
Numerous specimens of burrow casts were found, and also a few straight cephalopod's (in middle).

geologic layers
At the last stop of the day, geologic layering is very prominent.

Sarah hunting fossils on hillside

Ramsey hunting fossils on ledges
Tall people have a distinct advantage!



March 11, 2007 - Cretaceous Fossils, Greene Co, AL

The March field trip was graced with perfect weather for playing in a creek. The morning started out pleasantly cool but was shorts and T-shirt weather by the time we got to the site.

We met at a rest area then caravaned to Greene County where we met our host who guided us to his property. We parked most of our vehicles then piled into several pickups and SUV's for the last 2 miles to the site. The site was a beautiful 80 acre parcel of high land on the Sipsey River which was underlain by late cretaceous sediment. A nice creek ran through the property and emptied into the Sipsey. The owner took us from the parking area to his camp which sits on a bluff high above the river. As we hiked to the collecting site, we observed turkey scratch marks, early blooming wild flowers, listened to woodpeckers and other birds and and then down a razor back ridge to the creek that was to be our collecting area for most of the day... a creek filled with sand and gravel bars and unknown treasures. We soon got our feet wet and split up into wandering singles and groups of hunters, assuming the bent-over position familiar to every fossil hunter. Sharks teeth were being found within moments of stepping in the creek.

Many varieties of sharks teeth were found including Otodus, Squalicorax and Ptychodus. Besides shark teeth the group found Oyster, petrified wood, fish vertebra, a mosasaur vertebra and other items of interest.

We had an "early leavers" group and an "it isn't dark yet" group; both groups stopped to enjoy dinner and continue the fossil discussions, fill their bellies, and wind down before the long drive home.

--Leisa Whitlow, Contributor

--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtest Jan Novak and Vicki Lais)

people on fossil trip
Most of the gang!

hike to creek to collect fossils
The long hike down the hill to the creek.

another young fossil hunter
Are you sure we're supposed to go here, Aunt Mel?

searching for fossils in creek
The creek was quite low, and shark teeth were immediately found.

fossil shark teeth

proud father of a young fossil hunter
Start 'um early, and they love fossils for life! (Or maybe it's just the rock throwing . . .)

fossil shark tooth in pebbles

searching for fossils in creek

Leisa discussing fossil find
The easy way to hunt fossils . . .

fossil mosasaur vertebra
Mosasaur vertebra.

searching for fossils in creek
A perfect outing for our future paleontologist!

fossil stash pile
What did you find, young lady? A nice collection of shark teeth, ptychodus teeth, petrified wood, coral, and pretty pebbles.

searching for fossils in creek

fossil ptychodus teeth

searching for fossils in creek

fossil oyster shells
Quite a few oyster shells were found.

searching for fossils in creek]

fossil skute
Appears to be a tiny crocodile scute.

searching for fossils in creek

fossil wormtube
Nicely preserved worm tube.

searching for fossils in creek

fossil shark teeth
More shark teeth.

fossil shark teeth

searching for fossils in creek

fossil from creek
Not sure what this is, any ideas?

fossil from creek
Another unidentified fossil.

fossil fish vertebra
Tiny fish vertebra.

searching for fossils in creek

tired fossil hunters
Decisions, decisions.. . . Do we want to collect in those gullies over there, or head out for supper? How about both?

April 19, 2007 - Dr. Gingerich Lecture in Tuscaloosa, AL

A few BPS members drove over to Tuscaloosa, AL to hear a lecture on fossil whales. We arrived early, and decided to "fossil hunt" at the Geological Survey of Alabama building. The steps and bannisters are of limestone, and are nicely weathered out to show beautiful fossils.

The speaker was Dr. Philip Gingerich, Professor of Geological Sciences, and Director of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan. His lecture was titled "Fossils and the Origin of Whales". The lecture was very educational and entertaining, with numerous slides of Dr. Gingerich's field trips to Egypt, Afganistan, and other locations over the years. His most recent research on fossil whales was discussed in the lecture. After the lecture, we had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Gingerich and the other paleontologists/ geologists in attendance.
There is an article on Dr. Gingerich's whale research in EARTH magazine titled "How amphibious whales returned to the sea".

Click the thumbnail to see the full size photo. They are large so it may take a while to download each one.

(Photos courtesy Vicki Lais, with special thanks to George Phillips for his assistance!)

Geological Survey of AlabamaFossilsFossils

Group Photo

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Group Photo
Abbey Road Imposters

Photo Layout by IrfanView

April 21, 2007 - Cretaceous and Tertiary Fossils, Butler Co, AL

The April field trip took us to Butler County where a creek has cut through early Tertiary and late Cretaceous sediments. Once again as with last months field trip to Green County we had some of the best spring weather Alabama can offer, with the temperature reaching a pleasant 76 degrees.

Everyone met at a central location, and a brief introduction to the geology of the area was given before driving about 12 more miles to the entrance to the site. While past trips to this location have found the entrance roads to be very slick from rain, this years access was dry and easy. The entire caravan was able to drive to the limestone hilltop parking area.

The fossil hunting started the moment you exited your car with small gastropods and segments of large ammonites being found on the cleared hill top. The trail down to the creek provided more ammonites.

The creek was beautiful with white quartz sand beaches at many of the bends. Shark teeth, ray teeth, fossil bone, ammonite pieces and nautiloids were found in the gravel bars, along with numerous non-fossilized bones and teeth from various mammals. Some of the more interesting finds were various human artifacts rather than fossils. Indian potshards, some with incised decorations, a couple of projectile points and an Indian pipe, probably of European origin, were found.

The end of the day found the diehard fossil hunters resting at the beach where the trail intersected the creek. The Novaks organized a fire on the beach to roast small sausages, while others brought snacks to contribute, and the Stewarts returned to the parking area to set up camp for the night and fix their dinner.

By dark, everyone headed home, leaving Pam and Bob to enjoy a pleasant night at the site with owls hooting and Whip-poor-wills calling. At daybreak turkeys could be heard at the tree line adjacent to the camp area. After a couple of hours of walking the creek on Sunday morning the Stewarts packed up and reluctantly left the site, letting it return to nature.
--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtesy Jan Novak, Bob Stewart, Becky Guthrie, and Vicki Lais)

fossil lecture before trip
Vice President Greg gives an overview of the geology of the site and collecting rules.

group ready to hunt fossils
A lot of excited people showed up for the field trip - fossils can even be found on the limestone earth in the foreground.

fossils on limestone ground
If you look carefully, you can spot tiny round gastropods, each approximately 3/8 inch across.

hiking to creek to hunt fossils
Hiking down to the creek from the parking area (and of course, looking for fossils along the way!)

creek where fossils are found
The creek was higher this year than normal, but there were still numerous gravel bars.

searching for fossils in creek

searching for fossils on rocky beach
A recent storm had washed up a huge pile of brush and trees, and left behind rocky rubble and mud rather than the white sand we normally find.

fossil tooth and coquina stone

searching for fossils in creek

fossil nautiloid
Nice nautiloid found by David.

geologic layers visible in creek bank

teaching the little ones to collect fossil

fosil ray and shark teeth
Ray tooth and shark tooth.

fossil oyster shell

unknown fossil
Unknown item, can anyone identify? Looks kind of like a tooth. . . .but . . . .

fossil turritella in coquina
Nice turritella in coquina.

Lea & mom searching creek for fossils
Lea's mom was visiting from the Czech Republic, and decided to join us for the fun!

pottery shard

fossil shells in matrix
Shells in matrix.

pottery handle
Probably a pottery handle.

pottery shards

pottery shards

pottery leg

pottery shard

recent worm tracks similar to fossil tracks
Worm tracks in the sand. Fossil worm tracks much like these are found in shale in north Alabama.

fossil shark teeth

fossil clayball with plant material
Numerous clayballs were found in the creek. This one shows bits and pieces of plant debris. The finder did not examine it closely to determine whether these were fossil leaves or recent, however, based on the geology of the area, they could easily be cretaceous fossil remains.

miscellaneous items

camping on limestone bald
While Bob & Pam set their tent up . . .

cooking on campfire by creek
The others built a fire and enjoyed the evening.

late afternoon around the campfire
The campfire has about died out as some of the diehard fossil hounds hang out wringing that last little bit of enjoyment from the day!


May 19, 2007 - Cretaceous Fossils, Montgomery Co, AL

Another hot day found the troops begging for a "water field trip" so we could cool off. We had mixed feelings about what we saw when we got there and found that drought conditions had virtually dried up the creek-bed. On the other hand, a good deal more fossils were exposed. This is our favorite spot for collecting echinoids and viewing too-fragile-to-collect ammonites. A few ammonites were retrieved, echinoids, cretaceous wood, worm tubes and a few shark teeth and numerous shells were found, and Becky found a turtle bone. With the exposure of the creek-bed, we could see near-perfect circular holes in the rock where the last bits of the ammonite fossils had washed away over time. In spite of the heat, we all found some nice fossils (or drooled over other people's fossils!), and had a chance to get a good look at the underlying rock formations. Our finds made all participants feel the day was truly worth it, including the largest shark tooth that this group has seen at this site, two very large shark vertebra, an unusual looking pycnodont fish tooth, and what might be a plesiosaur bone. Then off for some dinner at a wonderful BBQ restaurant where all expressed delight with the trip and made our plans for future visits.

--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Pictures courtesy Claire Smith and Vicki Lais)
Image GalleriesField Trip Photos2007-05-19

June 23, 2007 - Eocene Fossils, Covington Co, AL

The weather was unbearably hot for this June BPS trip to a river in Covington County. Maybe it was the heat, but we had a smaller than normal turnout. The water at this Eocene age site was extremely low, and our usual collecting-holes were sometimes totally flushed clean, and sometimes filled with silt. Very odd. However, we still found some nice specimens and quite a bit of petrified wood, including what appears to be a seed pod. The group scattered along the riverbank and settled down in their chosen collecting spots, making life a little hard on the photographer, but we still got some nice pictures.

Unlike previous years, we were the only collectors that day. It appeared that some "cleanup" work had been done along the riverbank, because it was smooth and un-marred by the holes and trenches dug by commercial collectors in previous years. The landowner asked that we DO NOT DIG at this site, and hopefully, the word has gotten around (BPS never dug here, anyhow). Screening is ok, but NOT digging holes in the banks. Since a number of our members have been appalled in the past at what appeared to be irresponsible digging by people who didn't even know they needed permission to collect here, this was welcome news.

We found ray teeth, shark teeth, sting-ray spines, brachiopods, drumfish mouth plates, and some mystery pieces. Stay tuned! The river was a wonderful place to cool off on such a hot day, so BPSer's took full advantage. Several members camped out overnight (thanks for the A/C, Leisa!), and broke out the canoes the next day in hopes of spotting some more collecting areas. We found some shark and ray teeth, a live turtle badly wanting out of the hole it had fallen into, and had a very pleasant trip UP the river, but did not find the treasure hole we were seeking. So, obviously, we have to go hunting again, right guys?
--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtesy Claire Smith and Vicki Lais)

fossil members group picture
The group picture, hey, what can I say? We were late, hot, and hungry!

riverbank fossil collecting site
Very low water level today.

collecting fossils in river
Members hunting for the best collecting spots - the river is quite shallow here.

fossil wood and seed pod
Jan found several pieces of petrified/ permineralized wood, and what appears to be a nice seed pod.

collecting fossils in river
Jan heading downstream, surveying areas that are normally covered with water.

collecting fossils in river

collecting fossils in river

fossil teeth
Sample of the fossils found at this site.

collecting fossils in river

collecting fossils in river

fossil shark teeth

fossil drumfish mouth plate
Drumfish mouth plate.

fossil collecting site

falls at fossil collecting site
The river is low enough to expose this small waterfall, where, rumor has it, Claire and Becky engaged in a water battle.

collecting fossils in river

collecting fossils in river

fossil seed pod
Good view of the seed found by Jan.

fossil wood
Wood found by Jan.

fossil shark and ray teeth
That evening at camp, we spread out our finds for the day.

fossil shark and ray teeth

fossil brachiopod - shells

canoe trip collecting fossils in river

fossil ray tooth

fossil shark and ray teeth


July 21, 2007 - Cretaceous Fossils, Greene Co, AL

A very large group of 31 people showed up for the July BPS trip to Greene county. Thanks to James Lamb, our trip leader this time, we visited some Cretaceous sites that we have not visited for at least 10 years, so we were all pretty excited. The first site was a chalk gully which has produced nice mosasaur bones in years past. James Lamb gave a short training session on how to collect in chalk gullies, how to walk around in them (slowly and gently), how to collect (when you find something, look up-hill to see if there are more), and other collecting tips. There are numerous pieces of what looks like rubble scattered throughout a gully - each piece of "rubble" is actually part of a fossil, though most of them are unrecognizable without close examination, sometimes under a microscope. James Lamb checked some areas where fossils had been found in the past, and discovered another bone, which was flagged so that it could be retrieved on the way out. Bob found a bone which turned out to be part of a turtle. Also, we found a wide variety of other fossils, including another mosasaur vertebra, a couple of mosasaur teeth, Tylosaurus flipper bone, several shark teeth, including a large one found by Sylvie. Ammonite pieces, worm tubes, burrows, a tiny fish tooth, a fish vertebra, and oyster shells were also found. One member asked James to go check some bones she had flagged; he discovered they were bones of a recent rabbit, and as he was approaching her to return the flag, he asked "Are you keeping that mosasaur vertebra there by your foot?" Well . . . She would've had she seen it first! Many fossils are light colored and blend in well with the environment. It takes time to adjust ones eyes to be able to spot them. We also discovered some fresher fish bones, leading to the conclusion that the birds who regularly raid the catfish farms have been using the gulley as their dining hall. Though we were hot and dripping wet, we were willing to stay longer, wondering what was in the next gully, and the next, and . . .

After rounding up the gang (which is a minor miracle in itself!), we hiked back to our vehicles for lunches, then headed for the creek. Finally, time to get wet and cool off! Out with the sieves, from collander baskets to "real" geology sorters, to home made wood-sided screens. At least a dozen ptychodus teeth turned up - Claire may be the "winner" on these, she had found 6 at last count. Every screen we searched had several shark teeth, and other fossils were also found, including a large fish vertebra, gastropod steinkerns (internal molds), worm tubes, and one very nice arrowhead. We left relatively early (hey, some of us would have stayed til dark if we could have!), and many of us stopped by a famous BBQ joint to continue the fun and fossil discussion.

--Edited by Vicki Lais

(photos courtesy Bob Stewart, Steve Corvin and Vicki Lais)
ethics & landowner rules lecture by Dr. Lamb
James Lamb gives a refresher talk on rules about collecting at museum sites, BPS ethics, and landowner restrictions.

chalk gully
Typical Greene County, Alabama chalk gully.

lecture in chalk gully
James Lamb explaining gully collection techniques.

collecting fossils in chalk gully
Even the younger members had fun.

fossil bone of Tylosaurus
Flipper bone of a Tylosaurus found by James Lamb.

collecting fossils in chalk gully

fossil rubble on the ground in chalk gully
Many "pieces" are scattered throughtout the gully, and according to James Lamb, they are all fossils.

fossil turtle shell
Small piece of turtle shell found by Bob.

collecting fossils in chalk gully

fossil teeth and shells
Some typical fossils found in chalk gullies - one finds hundreds of worm tubes, and only a few shark teeth.

fossil shark tooth
Shark teeth are "normal" to find in gullies, but Sylvie found one whose size is truly spectacular for these gullies!

fossil worm tube

fossil ammonite section
Large ammonite section found by Vicki.


fossil fishtooth

fossil mosasaur vertebra
Mosasaur vertebra found by James Lamb (right beside Vicki's foot, darn it!)

fossil fish vertebra
Fish vertebra.

fossil mosasaur tooth
Nice mosasaur tooth.

fossil ammonite section
Another piece of ammonite.

collecting fossils in chalk gully

collecting fossils in chalk gully

fossil teeth

fossil mosasaur vertebra
Small mosasaur vertebra found by Leisa as we were leaving the gullies "Everybody just stepped right over it or passed it by without noticing".

chalk gully overlook

collecting fossils in creek
After lunch we headed to the creek to screen for teeth and whatever else we might find.

fossil ptychodus tooth
One of the many ptychodus teeth found in the creek.

fossil teeth in typical screen
Typical finds after washing the sand/mud from the gravel - notice the shark teeth and the piece of bone.

fossil teeth in screen
Another load of "pay dirt" - fish vertebra, shark teeth, ptychodus tooth.

fossil fish vertebra
Closer shot of the fish vertebra.

fossil gastropod, shark tooth
Nice internal mold of a gastropod.

collecting fossils in creek with screens
A laid back group, keeping cool, having fun. There were various groupings of people all along the creek - some went upstream, some went downstream. James Lamb is collecting material to be used in an upcoming exhibit at McWane Science Center.

collecting fossils in creek

fossils in screen
How many shark teeth can you see in this picture?

fossil shark teeth
Sample of teeth found by Bob.

Indian arrowhead found in creek
Wesley found a very nice point.

fossil gastropod internal molds

fossil bone

leaving fossil site
Headed home after a wonderfully pleasant day of collecting!

yellow flower


August 25, 2007 - Pennsylvanian Fossils, Tuscaloosa Co, AL

A trip to a non-working mine site to explore spoil piles for invertebrate fossils was on the menu for BPS's August field trip. The mining company, headquartered in Tuscaloosa county generously offered us the opportunity to explore at this site. A long, hot day on a moonscape was nevertheless a great trip, yielding some beautiful specimens.

We met with the mining engineer who gave us a quick overview of the mining operations, then let us go onto the piles to do our hunting. We hunted until the heat got to us and it was time to seek air-conditioning.

After cooling off at a Mexican restaurant, we ended the day at the Museum of Natural History at Tuscaloosa with a visit to their superb collections.

(photos courtesy Chris and Vicki Lais)

Image GalleriesField Trip Photos2007-08-25

September 22, 2007 - Mississipian Fossils, Blount Co, AL

A trip to a quarry in the Mississippian age, Fort Payne chert was on the schedule for BPS' field trip in September. It was a beautiful day with a good turnout. THe quarry had been dug out since out last visit so we were able to look around the freshly-exposed areas. Sylvie and Michael made a heroic effort to find a trilobite in some of the material that resembled Frog Mtn. formation, but to no avail. We wandered freely over the huge quarry area, finding crinoid stems, brachiopods, corals and a number of nice geodes. The chert is lightweight and filled with cavities, leaving behind molds of long-ago crinoids.

Lunch break at the Top Hat Barbecue gave us a chance to cool off a little, since the heat was pretty intense. However, the troops headed back to the quarry after lunch for a full afternoon of collecting.

--Photos courtesy Vicki Lais

Image GalleriesField Trip Photos2007-09-22

Visitors Dig the Fossil Exhibit at the Homewood Public Library

Members of the Birmingham Paleontological Society held a fossil exhibit at the Homewood Public Library from September 1 until September 30. On Sunday, September 30, an Open House was held for the public, which included refreshments, a short dinosaur movie, and best of all according to the kids, a sand pile where they could search for their very own fossils.

The exhibit was held in the Ellenburg Art Gallery, which is a fabulous location to display the wide variety of fossils found in Alabama. There were 3 flat exhibit cases, one for each major Era in Alabama, the Cenozoic, Mesozoic, and Paleozoic. On the walls were photos from BPS field trips, and several posters with information on fossils and the geology of Alabama. Also there were two wall cases filled with fossils found on BPS trips, and tools that any budding paleontologist will need for starting their very own collection. Among the fossils on display were ammonites, mosasaur vertebra, shark teeth, calamites, ferns, echinoids, crabs, trackways, and fossil shells.

The younger fossil hunters walked into the room and immediately became totally engrossed in the dinosaur video; they never even realized there were snacks right behind them! After the movie, they joined the other fossil hunters at the sand pile. This was so exciting that many of them hunted for over an hour, just to see what turned up. (I'm sure all the fossil enthusiasts can relate to this!)

Overall, another great Exhibit and Open House experience. The Homewood Public Library was our meeting location for many years, and in a way, it felt like we were "back home". 


Behind the Scenes - McWane Exhibit Installation

The Sea Monsters exhibit that opened at McWane Science Center on October 5, 2007 took many months of hard work by McWane Science Center employees and others. One afternoon of this months-long effort was captured on film, and is presented here for your enjoyment.

(photos courtesy Vicki and Chris Lais)

McWane Sea Monsters Exhibit

The new "Sea Monsters" exhibit opened October 5th at McWane Science Center and will run until sometime in the spring. BPS members and other friends of McWane Science Center were treated to a preview of the exhibit on October 4th, showcasing the paleontology department's new "ocean" exhibit featuring life size casts of Protostega (turtle), Clidastes (mosasaur), Pachyrhizodus (fish), Xiphactinus (XL fish), and Tylosaurus (mosasaur). In one area was a "fossil dig" which was very popular with the kids. The all new exhibits feature fossils from the Late Cretaceous which were found in Alabama.

Also, attendees had the opportunity to watch the opening night sneak preview of the new IMAX movie Sea Monsters . Although the Sea Monster movie is being shown in numerous locations around the world, McWane is the only location where fossils of the depicted animals are on exhibit in the same building. And the most fantastic thing about them - they're from right here in Alabama!

JAMES LAMB CLONED - a new technology has captured palontologist James Lamb between two pieces of glass! Throughout the exhibit are stations called "Ask the Paleontologist". When a question is chosen from the list, a prerecorded video of James providing the answer to the question begins, with the video appearing to float inside a pane of clear glass. James spotted one of the attendees looking in his direction, and overheard something like "he looks like the man in the video!" According to James Lamb, the intent is for each exhibit case to provide brief descriptions of each fossil throughout the exhibit rather than a large detailed page of text. If a person participates in each of the exhibits, they will take home with them a large body of knowledge.

The current exhibit, the ocean environment, is the first phase of a larger plan. Next spring a new exhibit featuring land creatures - including dinosaurs will be completed. The fully complete exhibit floor will have the ocean environment at one end, the land environment at the other end, and perhaps a barrier island environment in the middle.

There was a very good turnout of BPS members on Thursday night. Spotted at the reception were Bobby Popwell and wife, Greg and Jan Mestler and daughter Melonie, Martha Ivey, Bill and Anita Fowler, Jeff and Sara Roseman and son Wesley, Chris and Vicki Lais, Becky Guthrie all the way up from Mobile, Steve Corvin and family, Sandy Ebersole, Bob and Pam Stewart, Claire Smith, Leisa Whitlow, and Keven and Nathan Hope. And of course, Jun Ebersole, Kathy Wallace, James Lamb and all the other staff and volunteers who worked late to make this event so memorable.

For more information, check out the The Birmingham News - October 5, 2007 which had a front page write-up on the new exhibit, featuring paleontologist James Lamb and a Protostega on the front page.

October 21, 2007 - Cambrian Fossils, Cherokee Co, AL

The current drought brought us to a favourite site in the Conasauga formation in Cherokee County, hoping that low water levels would have exposed more finds. Unfortunately, it proved to be a double-edge sword in that, while more shoreline was exposed, with the lack of water washing the rocks, the trilobite pickin's were slim, indeed. However, our first stop was at a Dresdachian stage site which produced a bumper crop of brooksella, so, win some, lose some. Stop 2 was an Albertan stage site where a few really nice trilobite finds kind of made up for the scarcity. All enjoyed the nice weather and the halloween cupcakes. We had fun welcoming young Liz to the club. She found some fossils, dug up some clay and practiced her rock-skipping skills and had a ball. We finished up at a favourite restaurant where some of the best fried green tomatoes in Alabama can be found. Yum.

After the main trip, three members scouted a couple of potential new sites. The first site was totally non-productive, while the second site had a large outcropping of shale, where a few tiny trilobites were found.

--Photos courtesy Vicki Lais

Image GalleriesField Trip Photos2007-10-21

November 17, 2007 - Mississippian Fossils, St. Clair Co, AL

This month 14 people showed up for the BPS trip and collected in Mississippian age fossils in St. Clair county, Alabama. Along with the perfect brachopods and horned coral, quite a few trilobite parts were found in the Ft. Payne chert.

Photos courtesy Martha Ivey and Vicki Lais.

Image GalleriesField Trip Photos2007-11-17