May 6-7, 2006 - Cretaceous Fossils, Lowndes Co, AL

This May found the troops encamped in Lowndes County for a whole weekend of fossils and good company. Tents, camping vans, pop-up trailers all turned out for the great weekend of food, hunting and sleeping out thanks to the generosity of the hunting camp. Our hosts supplied rides out to gullies and a creek on their property via ATV’s and trailers. Even Sylvie made the bumpy ride out to the creek, although some of us did do a quick, quiet poll as to who knew how to deliver a baby or how long it would take to make it to the nearest medical facility, JUST IN CASE she hit one bump too many! We had a great crowd, and some excellent specimens of fossil crabs, shells, ammonites and various teeth were found. After a long day of collecting, we gathered around a roaring fire for a low country shrimp boil and good conversation. Everyone seemed to be demonstrating that everything does taste better outside! Michael and Sylvie had left early, Sylvie declaring that she was now ready to go home and have a baby!

Even the rainstorm that burst on us Sunday morning didn’t dampen spirits. Sleeping with the rain pounding down while you are warm, dry and cozy is one of life’s lovelier experiences! The early risers gathered under one of the many “porch” shelters in the camp and revved up the little propane stoves to make breakfasts of pancakes, cereal, coffee, tea...all the comforts of home, but more fun. Finally, all but the most dedicated decided to call it a day and head home. Nancy left a few of her belongings behind, so Vicki and Martha decided to return them via Selma, wait out the storm and do a little more looking around before heading back.

It was great to see so many of us, old and new members AND guests, turning out for all or most of the weekend. THANK you to our hosts for making us feel so welcome and providing all the facilities. Also thanks to our hosts, and to Shannon and Jim for providing vehicles and trailers, and to Vicki and everybody who helped organize the weekend and the shrimp boil!

This month we were collecting in the Ripley Formation, Cretaceous Period, Maastrichtian Age. According to information published by George Martin, Soil Data Quality Specialist with the USDA, most (if not all) of the crabs found on the trip are Avitelmessus grapsoideus Rathbun, or “Muffin Crabs.” These crabs have been documented from the Ripley Formation in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Along with crabs, members also found numerous teeth, including mosasaur, sawfish, swordfish, and various types of shark teeth. Also found were numerous shells and pieces of ammonite.

--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtesy Jan Novak and Vicki Lais)

hike to gully to hunt fossils
A long drive by ATV, then a short hike to the gully.

gully site for fossils
The gully where we began the day.

hunting fossils in gully
Greg has just given instructions on "how to collect in a gully", so everyone is being very cautious and searching carefully.

gully where fossils are found
This is a rather small gully, with very little chance of getting lost here. Gullies in the Ripley are very unusual.

hunting fossils in gully
Sometimes it was easier and more productive to just sit in one spot and let one's eyes get accustomed to the patterns.

fossil shell material in gully
The gully is littered with numerous pieces of broken shell, nodules and sometimes fish and shark teeth.

showing off fossil sawfish tooth
Loni's grand-daughter has found a sawfish tooth.

examining fossil finds

showing off fossil
Lea has found the bottom part of a bivalve, possibly exogyra.

bps logo with fossil trilobite image on backpack
Shannon has found a new use for our logo patch - his son John's backpack.

showing off fossil material
Melanie has found . . . something . . . .

Protosphyraena fossil swordfish tooth
Tooth from a late Cretaceous swordfish, probably Protosphyraena.

hunting fossils in gully

hunting fossils in gully

fossil crab leg
Sylvie has found part of a crab leg.

hunting fossils in gully

fossil ammonite
Small fragment of ammonite showing the tell-tale intricately patterned suture marks, which distinguish it from a nautiloid.

fossil tooth

fossil mosasaur tooth
Mosasaur tooth.

fossil shark teeth and swordfish tooth
A variety of shark teeth, and the long upper left one is a swordfish tooth.

all but Claire taking break from fossils
After a really hot morning, we returned to camp for lunch and a group picture. Uhh.... where's Claire, did we leave her??

Claire hunting fossils in gully

hunting fossils in creek
Members spread out to search the creek bottom and banks. Some go upstream, some go downstream.

fossil crab
Nice crab. Note the dark gray clay. It is quite slippery in the creek and along the shore.

fossil crab in matrix

fossil crabs
Some nice crabs.

unknown nodule
An odd round item found by Vicki.

unknown nodule
A closer look at the "round thing".

recent deer skull with antlers
Rychard has found a nice deer skull, recent, not a fossil.

low country shrimp boil after fossil trip
Back in camp, the food fun starts! Members and guests enjoyed a fine low country shrimp boil, with head chef Greg Mestler. Numerous members contributed to its preparation and its disappearing act!


baby Mrug our newest fossil hunter