January 14, 2006 - Cambrian Fossils, Cherokee Co, AL

Neither rain, nor sleet nor snow nor lake wind advisories will deter the BPS from hitting a favorite NE Alabama site. No kidding about the snow! As we assembled in the morning at the rest area little flakes were seen drifting down. We all bundled up and headed out anyway. In spite of the weather, we had a great turnout of 24 1/2, with members coming from as far away as Atlanta and Selma to hunt trilobites on a lake in Cherokee county.

First stop was a primo site for finding brooksella and several nice pieces were found. Vicki found an unusual one shaped very much like a small starfish. "Brooksella" are believed to be the internal mold of a "primitive jellyfish", possibly from the Conasauga Fm, Dresbachian stage, late Cambrian approximately 515 million years ago. Nancy worked hard at trying to persuade Daisy the Dawg to sniff out fossils, but Daisy would rather play with Paige and search around for a squirrel or two! After experiencing the freezing wind which would almost blow one over, it was time to warm up - on to the next site.

After a timeout to repair a flat tire for Michael we took off for our 2nd site. Temps in the 40's (felt like the 30's!) and the whitecaps on the lake were a hint that maybe we should NOT go out in the boat, so we contented ourselves with the shoreline. Nevertheless, everybody found good amounts of trilobites. Steve found an exceptional trilobite specimen on a hard pebble, and Hitoshi found a beautiful stromatolite specimen. Since frostbite seemed imminent it was decided to retreat to the restaurant and get hot food and tell tales of the day and of other trips and fun. Michael and Sylvie had an exciting announcement: the arrival of baby "Elias" due in May! While we warmed our bods, Leisa was out "visiting". She met a local person who invited us to his house where he said there were trilobites behind the house, and sure enough, there were plentiful outcrops of the Conasauga Shale. (He also gave her a very nice 4 inch trilobite he had found in California - lucky lady! Just shows what happens to nice people!) Trilobites found today ranged from 1/8 inch to about 1 1/2 inches. These fossils are from the middle Cambrian Conasauga Fm. Albertan stage, and are approximately 530 million years old. Cephalon (heads), pygidium (tails), and several whole specimens of Coosella, Coosia superba, Kingstonia, Densonella, Holcacephalus, and Norwoodella were found.

Edited by Vicki Lais

(pictures courtesy Lea Martin and Vicki Lais)

BPS members gathering before fossil trip
At the meeting location, Greg is informing the group of the day's upcoming activities.

getting ready for fossil trip
Greg discussing what will be found at the first site, and showing his collecting tool.

gesturing during lecture

collecting fossils in gravel by lake
Part of the group searching for brooksella specimens. This lakeshore is composed of mostly pebbles.

collecting fossils in gravel by lake
Yeah... let's see.... thats Greg, and Michael, and, um, Jan, and Lea, and uh, who's that in the blue jacket?

fossil brooksella
A nice brooksella found by Vicki.

fossil brooksella
Other side of the same brooksella.

fossil brooksella and spear point
Vicki found a nice point on the beach, too.

collecting fossils in gravel by lake

collecting fossils in gravel by lake
Nancy, Daisy, and Steve surveying the lake shore.

pebble with odd shape
Another unusual find, there's obviously a fossilized man under here!

collecting fossils in gravel by lake

collecting fossils in gravel by lake
Carl has decided to examine every rock in this spot.

Steven stuck in mud
Oops.... I'm stuck and I can't move! Dad Steve went to rescue Steven, and got stuck himself! The mud is so bad in places it will pull your shoes off.

collecting fossils in gravel by lake

showing off fossil trilobite
Claire has found a nice pygidium.

fossil trilobite
A closer look at Claire's trilobite find.

collecting fossils in gravel by lake

collecting fossils in gravel by lake

fossil trilobites
Some trilobites found today.

fossil trilobite
Very nice trilobite found by Steve.

fossil trilobite
A closer look.

showing off fossil stromatolite
Hitoshi has found a very nice stromatolite specimen.

fossil stromatolite
A closer look at Hitoshi's stromatolite find.

fosil stromatolite
An even closer look.

fossil brooksella
Hitoshi had a good day today! Nice brooksella!

BPS members at supper
Here's most of the group getting warm and cozy. Several members decided to stay out collecting, and Leisa was out negotiating for another collecting site. Sylvie (2nd from left) announced she and Michael are expecting a new member of the family in May! Congratulations!

collecting fossils in gravel by lake
The lakeshore at the 3rd site of the day was mostly Conasauga shale, much of it already weathered out and broken into tiny pieces.

fossil trilobite in shale

fossil trilobite
Nice outcrop of shale, and a trilobite found on a pebble.

splitting shale to find fossil trilobites
When the shale is split, numerous trilobites are exposed.

fossil trilobites
Each dark spot is a small trilobite.

fossil trilobite

shale layers
A nice outcrop of Conasauga shale.

maybe worked tool
Leisa found a rock that appears to be worked, probably a scraper.

A pretty ending to a fine day of collecting!