August 11, 2018 - Oligocene Fossils, Smith County, MS

On Saturday, Aug 11, 2018, a small group of BPS members and guests traveled to Smith County, Mississippi where we were joined by our enthusiastic, knowledgeable host.  We were led to a small working lime quarry that featured, from the Oligocene, outcrops of Bucatunna clay, Glendon formation limestone and Marianna limestone.  The quarry process yielded specimens from the Mint Spring unit but the unit itself was underwater. 

Participants were given some geological facts and some collecting hints and then were free to roam around the quarry.  There were large mined limestone boulders all around the quarry that were fossiliferous and a paddock area where the initial crushing of mined slabs took place that contained fossils.  There was lots of material that was rinsed by rain run-off from collecting shed’s roof, making some fossils in that area easier to spot.

As collectors spread out and began searching, some of the things collected were:  echinoids, scallop shells, tusk shells, forams (coin-sized, single-celled organisms that are still around today), shark and ray teeth, a broken shark vertebra, delicately branching bryozoans, pyritized cone shells, echinoids, pyritized burrows, ghost shrimp claws and lignite.  Lots of treasures at this site!

And, if things were exciting enough, James stepped on a shifting boulder which caused him to lose his balance and grip on his pick.  Who knew those things would bounce??  And, bounce it did – right into James’s head.  Paleontologists are tough and prepared, though.  George retrieved his first-aid kit from his truck and applied a nice field dressing which enabled James to make his way back to his truck.  We couldn’t pass the up the opportunity to record the event for posterity so group photos were taken with Bloody James front and center.  I’d like to nominate that as his new pirate/field name!!  After the photos, James was chauffeured to the hospital where his hard head was declared uncracked and the wound sutured, then he was escorted safely home.  Unfortunate as it was, I’m glad that he’s okay. 

Many thanks to our wonderful host for a great day at a great site!  I hope we’ll be invited to Mississippi again!!