May 16, 2009 - Cretaceous Fossils, Sumter County, AL

Old hands as well as new joined up early on Saturday morning for a trip to some great Cretaceous gully sites in West Alabama.   Dr. John Hall and Dr. Andy Rindsberg, both from the University of West Alabama, led us down chalk roads (more later on the chalk roads!) and through the woods to the bottom of the ancient ocean.   The landscape looked like the remains of an ancient clam-bake!  Literally MILLIONS of fossilized shells including exogyra, various clams, shark and sawfish teeth, crab claws, oyster shells, echinoid spines, and at least one small shark vertebra.   One of our teen-aged guests, Megan, discovered a large Rudist clam.   This was only her second trip with BPS and her find was sufficiently rare from this location that Dr. Hall claimed it for the nascent Black Belt Museum in Livingston.  Her name will remain with it and she will get a letter of recognition.

Many who drove up from Birmingham were watching the weather, and at least one member called to see if the trip had been cancelled.  Cancelled??? Hey, this is BPS, guys!  But later in the day rumbling could be heard and the clouds looked angry.  The landowner sent word that the rain was about an hour away, so we started moseying back to the cars.  Oops, not fast enough, we were drenched by the time we made it back to the field.  So.  How many people remember James Lamb telling us over and over - GET OUT OF THE GULLIES BEFORE IT STARTS RAINING???  Let's see. . . chalk . . clay . . water . . slick . . stuck in mud.  Yeah, right.  At least 3 vehicles had to be pushed out, um, slid out, perhaps?  Needless to say, we were all pumped up with adrenaline by the time we made it back up the long winding road to the top of the hill! An exciting trip we will be discussing for years to come!

Edited by Vicki Lais

Pictures courtesy Nancy Lea,  Larry Herr, Vicki Lais