November 2, 2005 - Cretaceous Fossils, Sumter Co, AL

BPS members went down to the Tombigbee in search of specimens from the marl limestone sequences in the Arcola Limestone Member (Late Cretaceous Campanian 83-74 mya). Steve and Bobby furnished the boats. BPS members climbed aboard and we headed off down the river. This is one of our favorite spots so anticipation was high. Once arrived, we headed off in different directions, some going down to the far end of the beach in hopes of finding a large ammonite like the one found last trip.

The water was very low on this trip, exposing areas we had never collected. Another mosasaur bone, probably from our “pet” Mosasaur, “Bigbee” was unearthed, much to our pleasure. Numerous pieces of carboniferous wood were found, also worm tubes, gastropods and a very nice portion of a turtle, which was jacketed for prep work back home. Several shark teeth, straight cephalopod segments, and some fish teeth were also found.

We had very pleasant weather, and, after a full day of collecting, some wanted to settle in for some food and conversation while another part of the group decided to head down the river to a marcasite collecting area . Some very nice crystalline calcite specimens were found, in addition to the large quantity of marcasite. Much to our delight, it turns out that we had a marcasite specialist amongst us who gave us an impromptu lecture on marcasite characteristics. This inspired discussion of the possibility of forming a coprolite committee. Any volunteers? Anybody want to explain to the general public exactly what coprolite IS? Or was.

As it was getting too dark to see, it was decided that food and conversation seemed like a pretty good idea at this point, so we caught up with the others and finished off the day in great style.

Great trip, great weather, great group, great food.

--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtesy Anca Croitoru, Lea Novack, and Vicki Lais)

review of geologic information
Reconnaissance session covering the geology of the area and sample specimens.

fossil fish jaw
This is an excellent specimen of a fish jaw that Greg found on a previous trip.

fossil gastropods and exogyra
Gastropods and straight cephalopods found on prior trips.

boats ready for fossil trip shuttle
Lining up the boats.

riding to fossil site in boat

On the way again. . . .

enjoying the boat ride

white chalk bluffs at fossil site
Rocky bluffs composed of Arcola Limestone. Very fossiliferous.

hunting fossils in chalk bluffs
More views of the river.

hunting fossils in chalk bluffs

fossil in chalk bluff

fossil exogira
Large piece of shell and exogira.

fossil cephalopod and shells
Miscellaneous shells and straight cephalopods.

fossil shells in limestone
Numerous shell pieces in the limestone.

hunting fossils in chalk outcrops
Anca beginning her search.

collecting fossil turtle in chalk outcrops
Loni found a nice turtle specimen, and asked that Greg and Leisa excavate the bones.

collecting fossil turtle in chalk outcrops
Excavation has begun. . . .

fossil turtle in chalk outcrops
A closer look at the turtle parts.

fossil turtle in chalk outcrops
Part of the turtle.

fossil turtle in chalk outcrops
Turtle after preparation. Click image for a different view.

hunting fossils in chalk outcrop
Anca is closely examining the limestone. She found a fish tooth in this area.


marcasite in chalk outcrop
Another site further down the river where we collected marcasite.

marcasite specimens
Michael with some nice marcasite specimens. We discovered he is a marcasite specialist, and some of us discussed the need for a Coprolite Committee.

golden calcite crystals
Claire also found a fantastic specimen of calcite, about the size of a fist.

barge on river
View of the river.

BPS members eating supper
We ended the day with more good conversation at a restaurant near the collecting site. Another "way out in the boonies" place with no advertising; if you don't know where it is, you probably won't even find it by accident.