October 28, 2006 - Mississippian Fossils, Blount Co, AL

A trip to Blount County gave BPS a chance to visit "crinoid stem central!" While out on a service call, Greg had the good fortune to meet a lady who had just seen him on TV the night before, talking about the Homewood Library fossil exhibit. She and her next door neighbor turned out to be real fossil enthusiasts. BPS members were invited to meet at her home to see samples of crinoids and trilobites we would be collecting, and go to the first site, which was nearby. Another attraction was the butterfly population. Her garden is full of Monarch-friendly plants. Monarch chrysalis were everywhere, and we watched two recently emerged butterflies drying and stretching their new wings before taking flight. Breathtaking! What a wonderful opportunity to see these gorgeous creatures and to find so many excellent fossils.

After the butterfly viewing, we then convoyed to a quarry of Mississippian age Fort Payne chert where we had permission to hunt the whole day! Doesn't get much better than this, and the weather was absolutely perfect! Along with more large crinoid stems, several kinds of coral, brachiopods and a few trilobite pieces were found. Quite a few of us found beautiful geodes and concluded that this is just about as exciting as the fossils. They certainly are gorgeous souvenirs.

Later in the afternoon, a few of us sneaked off to one of Greg's barbecue spots and chowed down on some excellent vittles while our more dedicated crew-members devoted themselves to the task at hand. Well, you can't have everything. Sometimes a blackberry cobbler just has your name on it.

--Edited by Vicki Lais

(pictures courtesy Bill Fowler and Vicki Lais)

monarch butterflies
Our first stop of the day, where we found Monarch chrysalis on numerous surfaces, including plants and house siding. This chrysalis has turned clear, and you can see the butterfly inside. There were several newly emerged Monarch butterflies slowly pumping their wings, waiting for them to harden (that's what everyone's staring at on the porch.)

BPS members ready for fossil hunt
We had a great turnout and beautiful weather; here we pose for a group picture before setting off on our day's adventure.

searching the road for fossils
The first fossil stop, a gravel road paved with chert from the Mississippian age. Almost all the rocks have crinoid stems or impressions in them.

looking at a fossil crinoid
Examining recent finds.

searching the roadbed for fossils

searching for fossils

samples of fossils
Samples of fossils found today.

searching for fossils

fossils in roadbed

searching for fossils in quarry
On to the next stop at a nearby quarry which was large, hilly and had multiple collecting areas. Everyone scattered in different directions to collect, so it was difficult to get closeups of people and their finds during the day.

fossil crinoid
Crinoid stems in matrix.

fossil crinoid
Crinoid stems.

fossil crinoid
Crinoid stems. Click picture for closer view.

searching for fossils

searching the ditches for fossils

fossil horned coral
Horned coral found by Bill.

searching for fossils

miscellaneous fossils

Clockwise, from upper left - unknown (possible stromatolite), possible burrow, part of a trilobite and shell, bryozoan.

searching for fossils

fossil trilobite
Small trilobite found by Bill, magnified.

fossil trilobite
Large trilobite found by Bill. This is what we came for, he must have found their secret hiding place!

fossil coral

showing off her fossil

fossil crinoid

fossil trilobite
Part of a trilobite.

searching for fossils

fossil crinoid
Crinoid encrusted rock.

searching for fossils

monarch butterfly