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10/26/2008 - The One that got Away

Well, it has been a while since I’ve posted to BRF and now this will be my third in rather quick succession. Having a working home computer and fossils to post about are a key ingredient to creating a post so that’s really the tale of why. This year has been the least amount of collecting that I’ve done in the last five years; hopefully next year will be different…

On Sunday, October 26 I had plans to meet up with Paleobum for an outing along the Chesapeake Bay. I had heard he was in the area and I wanted to meet the guy and see if he could help out on the recent skull from Lee Creek. He has a great reputation for being all about fossils and being able to fix/repair broken specimens. He was up for checking out my find and so we meet at 7:00AM. After a short meet and greet we headed to the beach.

Now paleobum had kidded me earlier in the week via email about how we would spend the whole day at the beach jacketing the skulls that we would find. Turns out he was close but we were too late.

Literally not more than 10 feet from the start of the cliff and not more than one foot from where I know a squalodon tooth was found earlier in the year (and given to the CMM) was a huge hole dug into the cliff. This gets me fired up. Then I noticed the broken bone inside and what looks like the hole for the spinal cord to go out the back of the skull. Now I’m really fired up.

It wasn’t even a pedestalled hole; it was just hacked right through the bone, likely right through the brain case. I was trying to tell myself that it wouldn’t be, no it couldn’t be that this hacked material was a squalodon skull. The busted incisor (whoever had hacked the hole had crushed the tip of the tooth) still present in the hole (so they were hackers and too blind/uneducated to see even a two inch tooth) let the story be known – a valuable specimen had been destroyed.

I extracted the tooth and took it that afternoon to the CMM. The CMM has been busy extracting a 25 foot mostly articulated whale lately along the cliffs. Turns out that CMM had known about something eroding out there, just not what it was. A fellow BRF poster had informed them about the bone a few weeks ago but the museum had only a general location and did not conclude that squalodon tooth found so close by earlier this year could be from this unknown bone. It appears as if the back of the skull may be present and there were indications of at least one of the earbones still in there. Hackers had taken out the snout (if present) and who only knows what else. It sure was disappointing. This makes three squalodon skulls in the last 7 years from this site, all within sight of each other.

Only one of these made it out of the cliff directly to the CMM; the other two were either hacked on or had float elements taken even after the word was out about it being a museum find. Not having as much of the specimen as possible in the hands of researchers only slows science and detracts from the common good that can be experienced by everyone. Leave museum sites alone and get your rare finds in a museum!!! Ok, I’m down from my soap box and I’ll let the story continue….

The rest of the day was filled with a long, uneventful walk and lots of fossil stories. Paleobum found a cool split section of squalodon jaw with a tooth socket (unassociated to the above skull) and a smattering of other goodies. I found what I think is my first giant thresher in the surf but it is so worn I think a definitive ID is nearly impossible.

On the way out we bumped into a group of folks and, even though he was nearly 800 miles from home, someone stopped Paleobum by his name (real – not BRF) and they caught up on stuff. Turns out the guy had volunteered with Paleobum recently with the CMM and lived in the community we were collecting. We told him about the hacked on skull in the cliff there and he said he would keep an eye on it till the CMM comes out or he can catch who did it.

The day concluded with some fossil camaraderie on the beach with me taking out the skull to show Paleobum and the rest of the fellow fossil enthusiasts checking it out. Another person stopped by to see the on-goings and we ended up with about seven people having a friendly fossil fellowship on the beach for a good hour just sharing fossil stories and finds. The weather was perfect, the people first class and that helped take out the sting from the skull that got away.
Location Calvert County, Maryland, USA

Date Added12/19/2008

Nothing great for finds on the trip, but meeting Paleobum made it all trip worthy!!!

Calvert Cliffs Rarity
Calvert Cliffs Rarity
Tooth-a-palooza 2008
Tooth-a-palooza 2008
Super lucky day at the cliffs.
Super lucky day at the cliffs.





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