Aurora Plan B
As my kids get older, I see time spent fossil hunting getting shorter and shorter due to all the activities they get involved with. I love spending time with my kids, but with coaching all the games and practices coupled with my wife working every other weekend, my hunting time is really taking a beating. Well if I can’t spend a good quantity of hours collecting, I need to rely on quality hours - and it doesn’t get much better than Aurora. I was lucky enough this season to get a slot on the second Saturday. The reports from the first weekend were good, but then we received an inch of rain the following Tuesday. Then there was another two inches forecast for Friday. Would this be one of those dream days? Up until Thursday afternoon, Saturday’s forecast was for AM showers. No problem; I went out and purchased some good rain gear. But Thursday night, things started to go down hill. I opened the forecast for Saturday and there were those haunting words - thunder storms. I must have checked the forecast every half hour through Friday morning, but it seemed that the storms were inevitable. Somewhere around noon I received word that Saturday’s collecting would be cancelled. Depression set in.
I spent the afternoon hours trying to come up with a plan B. The main issue I had was that with all the rain, most every stream in North and South Carolina was going to be flooded. But then I figured, I’m not going to find fossils sitting home. Road trip it was. I dropped an email to Ditchweezil telling him I’d be in the area and he graciously invited me to partake in some afternoon digging not far from his place. That put me at ease with the high water issue. The land site surely wouldn’t be flooded.
I arrived at the first ditch at around 7 AM. The water as I suspected was really high and normal scanning procedures were going to be out. I stuck my shovel into the first accessible pool I came across and immediately could feel gravel on the bottom. I loaded and washed my first screen which yielded a worn, but complete, little angustidens. I moved down to the next accessible spot and again scraped the gravel off the bottom. This time after two screen loads, out came a somewhat beat up but decent squalodon incisor. The day was getting brighter. I continued working down the stream and eventually picked up another small Angustidens from right on top of my unwashed gravel. This one was a about 1.5 inches and a little dinged, but still a really nice tooth. As I moved just a little farther downstream I spotted an unusual shape just above the waterline. As I got closer I could see it was a Tapir tooth! It had to have washed out during the previous night’s rain and here it was sitting out in the wide open. I snapped a picture and quickly realized that any additional finds would put me in gravy mode. I worked the area pretty hard trying to see if there was anything else that got washed into the stream and after a couple more screen loads I found it. A small but absolutely pristine Angustidens. The tooth was just under 1.5 inches but by far the nicest Carcharocles tooth I’ve ever found anywhere. Aurora who? By eleven o’clock, my back was barking and I was to meet up with DW in another two hours. Time to stop and re-energize.
I was running late getting over to DW’s place due to some downed power lines across the highway, so we decided to meet at the digging site. As I pulled into the side street I could see him coming from the other direction - that couldn’t be good. It turned out that the land site was underwater. How ironic. Not having any real back-up plan that wasn’t covered with water, we parted ways. Before I headed back north, I decided to stop at one more small ditch that DW had brought me to a while back. The water level was about normal and I could easily see bottom, but there wasn’t anything laying out in the open. I started with the screen and in the second load I found a decent 2 inch angustidens - in two pieces. The shovel obviously was the culprit but even whole the tooth was far from perfect. I continued on and about a half hour later came another nice angustidens. This one was also about 2 inches long with a perfect root, tip, cusps and burlette. Its only issue was some minor damage to the serrations, but again a great tooth overall.
I spent the ride home basking in the glow of my latest finds. My day at Aurora being cancelled and the anguish that went along with it was certainly in the past. I have since been informed that PCS will try to accommodate me on a later date - Awesome!