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Paleo pain

I think there should be a "Paleo Pain Hall of Fame". A little tribute to all of the amateur fossil collectors out there who have given blood for the hobby. A way to recognize the people who have given so much to society through their collecting, and donations, of fossils. I picture a bronze, let's make that gold, life size T-rex at one of the halls at the Smithsonian, in Washington, DC. A little plaque would be attached bearing the name of every fossil collector who has ever sprained a foot, pulled a back, or suffered heat stroke looking for that perfect fossil. There would even be space for those who have collected from places without a permit. Of course it would be located somewhere lower down where the sun doesn't shine. But they would be counted. And at the very top would be those who have given "blood" in the name of paleontology. Do you like the idea? Can I see a raise of hands? What's that? You lost your hand when the paramedics had to cut it off! After you refused to let go of a 6 inch megalodon in a hole? Put that persons name plate at the top of the statue. During a trip to a favorite creek in 2003 I earned my place in my imaginary Hall Of Pain. Here's what happened. It was a routine walk down one of my favorite creeks. A few days earlier a bulldozer had gone down the creek and removed the top few inches of the Ashley Formation. The Ashley Formation is Early Oligocene and is a hard, off shore, deposit. Many of the animals found in this formation are found articulated. That's because they would sink in deep water after death. As luck would have it, I found a small area of turtle shell freshly exposed. It had the shape of the top of a carapace that had been sheared off 2 inches. The slope indicated a turtle at least two feet long. I walked back to by station wagon and returned with some heavy equipment. I then settled in to a few hours of hard digging. To be on the safe side I dug a trench three feet in diameter. Just in case there was a complete turtle. I then plaster jacketed it. After half an hour I used my six foot crowbar and broke it loose from the bottom. And there I stood with a three hundred pound ball of hard sand. And just me to remove it. I had a home made stretcher, with six foot handles, that has carried up to 400 pounds. The next thing I needed was someone with a strong back, and weak mind, to help me carry it a quarter mile back to my vehicle. The problem resolved itself a few minute later when twol rednecks on four wheelers came speeding up and stopped. The same people I had earlier cursed for running up and down the creek, now became my hero's. I don't know what they feed those rednecks. But I want some. They picked the jacket up, without the sling, and without breaking a sweat placed it on one of the four wheelers. I was back at my wagon ten minutes later. This is where the bloody part starts. My 1979 Mercury wagon was a true and blue fossilmobile. It had survived some of the toughest quarries in the country. But age had caught up with the pneumatic lifts for the back tailgate. I had to prop it up with a stick. My new found Bubba friends put the jacket in the back of my wagon and I sat down on the back bumper for a rest. It was then that a baby pot belly pig came out from under the car and rubbed up against my leg. Startled, I fell back raising my legs. At the same time I hit the stick holding up the tailgate. The gate came down, the lights went out, and I woke up to a pig staring me in the face. I returned home with a bloody towel around by head and with a pig that I swore was going to be bacon. As it turned out, I gave the pig to a veterinarian. I finished preparing the jacket two months later and had a new species of marine turtle for my efforts. It's at the museum now and will be published soon. So put my name up there at the top and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER mention bacon when I'm around.
Location Berkeley County, South Carolina, USA

Date Added10/13/2006

The turtle measured 32 inches long. It was a good thing that I took such a large jacket.
I removed the material inside to expose the bones. The front limds were complete. Right down to the last finger bone. The back limbs were missing. This is common in marine turtle fossils. Deep groves down the back of the carapace showed where a large shark had attacked from the rear. The turtle probably sank to the bottom from blood loss after the shark removed its limbs.
The head was later removed for description. The mandible was still in place.

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