Exhausted from the holidays, I needed some fossil vacation time from my holiday vacation time. After fighting tooth and nail for a kitchen pass, or should I say pleading and begging, my kitchen pass would be granted if my honey-do list (helping in taking down the Christmas tree, décor, cleaning house…etc) was completed. So I e-mailed my fossil buddy GREEL and asked if he wanted to hit GMR. Then the unexpected happen, I received an e-mail reply that he couldn’t go because of his own pre-scheduled honey-do list of moving furniture on Saturday.
I was in shock because I heard rumors through the fossil hunting grapevine saying Gerald aka “Reel Tooth” physically can not say “NO” to a dig. Bummed out, I turned off my computer, loaded up the girls in the car and departed in my quest to complete my honey-do list. Now I was debating whether to make the three hour trek there by myself.
Luckily I noticed a “missed call” on my cell while grocery shopping and when I played back the message I was delighted to hear Gerald leaving me a message that he could go. Well, at least that is what he said. After calling him back, Gerald stated that he was frantically trying to get in touch with this wife to let her know he WAS going (an assumed formal notification request / furniture moving rescheduling that needed to ironed out).
I woke up with anticipated excitement well before my 5:00 a.m. alarm. Not being able to go back to sleep I decided to turn off it off in addition to my backup alarm and stumbled downstairs to make coffee. I got dressed, geared up and waited for our departure. I stared outside like a dog waiting for his master to come home as I took a gulp from fourth cup of coffee. Around 6:00 a.m. I finally saw some headlights through the fog coming up the road followed by the rumblings of a truck. We were off.
Gerald came through with my request for him to bring his recent almost 4” meg find from the GMR. Now at least I will have one big tooth to photograph from the trip. The three hour drive was coming to a conclusion as the sunrise burned off the last of the morning fog. We donned on our waders, geared up and we were off to discover new finds.
I was hoping Gerald could put me on an area so I could find my first big meg; however, he informed me that the “area” where he found his recent monster was already “dug” out. Apparently an estimated six diggers knew of this location from that “group” dig, and the following week Gerald arrived to find that his site looked like an underwater depth charge went off in the area.
Gerald then crawled up into the woods and took down a motion activated digital camera mount near this location. I overheard Gerald mumbling as he reviewed the images saying something about planning to let the air out of a tire from an ECFC (East Coast Fossil Club) member’s car next trip or slashing the white walls with a Carcharodon carcharias. Okay, maybe this paragraph didn’t happen, but it does makes for a good story.
Being a creature of habit, I told Gerald that I was going to head up to my favorite location, the 10th Street Bridge to get some of my favorite fossils, those belemnites and the usual fossils in my graduated screens (½” to the lower ¼”). I soon got tired of digging down in the gravel and leaned on my shovel handle for support and a quick rest. As I looked through the tunnel, I played back a scene of “JAWS” in my mind. QUINT: “Anti-shark cage. You go inside the cage? Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark. Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain……”
I thought to myself, teeth in the gravel, gravel in the water, water goes through the tunnel, teeth go through the tunnel…..my teeth. I’ve found teeth on both sides of the tunnel, maybe there are some teeth “stuck” inside the tunnel. So I decided to proceed with this “logic” and started to “clean” out the tunnel. After the first couple of hauls I decided just to stick with the ½” screen to get through the material faster. I found some bigger belemnites and a lot of broken glass, cans, batteries, a 9mm bullet and the usual items that a pristine “urban” creek has to offer. Every time I saw broken end of a brown bottle in my screen, I thought I had a whale ear bone (tympanic bulla) in my screen. After an estimated thirty screen loads, I pondered in the low light of the tunnel if this half-ass project was worth the effort.
And then I saw it…… I portion of a root in my screen. Was this too good to be true? Was this finally my first “big” meg in my screen. I gingerly walked out of the tunnel being careful not to trip and spill this precious load. I then placed the screen on the sunny creek bank and got out my camera. I gleefully separated the tooth from the gravel. My heart raced. It didn’t look like a meg, but more like a “toad” (Otodus obliquus), which Gerald later seconded the motion. Either way, I didn’t care. I didn’t care that it was a little dinged up… o.k. majorly dinged up, because I just found my biggest tooth, 2¾” to be exact. Now I got excited. What else could be in that tunnel?
With new found strength I went back to clearing the tunnel. Load after load became less fruitful and once again I was starting become despondent with this endeavor. Then I saw something flop in my screen. My brain didn’t quite register it because I was getting tired of all the false hopes that went into the same screen. By the time my shovel scooped another load of gravel I said to myself, “Those WERE serrations I saw, not a clam shell edge, and that was a TOOTH I saw (as next gravel load came to rest in the screen)…..a BIG tooth.” I stopped, placed my shovel against the concrete wall and questioned if the tunnel light once again was playing games with my eyes?
Like with my “toad”, I brought my precious haul to the sunny creek bank, grabbed the camera and took a deep breath. I scanned the basket to locate what I think I saw. And there it was, lurking in the shadows, the serrations. I carefully removed the surrounding gravel to exhume my find. My jaw locked and almost soiled my waders. My eyes were not playing tricks on me (as knees buckled and knelt in the creek). I just found my second biggest tooth and my largest Great White (Carcharodon carcharias), exactly 2½”. It was in perfect condition and luckily had no shovel scratches.
I sat there and stared at it in disbelief for a good 5 minutes. With hands still trembling, I finally wrapped it in a paper towel and placed in my new favorite tooth container. Soon after that, I packed up to see how Gerald was doing. The creek was busy with hunters and on my way down the creek I showed off my find when asked if I found anything good. By the time I reached Gerald, I had a hard time trying to contain my excitement. I eagerly showed him my other finds including my big “toad”. Then I broke out my secret stash. No words were spoken, I just handed it to him. Gerald looked at the container slightly confused and then opened it. He carefully unfolded the protective paper towel and replied with one word, “WOW!”
We recharged with some homemade beef vegetable soup I made the night before and he decided to join me at the bridge for one more try. On the way back I noticed a couple of hunters not in their previously “designated” area. I guess I should not have said exactly “where” I found it. My suspicions were correct and as I rounded the creek bend. As we approached the bridge area I jokingly said, “Claim Jumpers!”, as both look up like they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They offered to relinquish “my” site; however, I stated there was plenty of gravel for all of us. Besides, it looked like I was leaving. If someone showed me a 2½” GW and said where they found it and were heading in the opposite direction, I would have done the same. We didn’t find much more with substance and the gravel was close to become being depleted. The two other hunters soon abandoned the site and I finished cleaning the tunnel out with nothing more to be found.
With that Gerald and I packed up and put and end to one of my favorite and most memorable digs to begin the three hour drive back. I couldn’t wait to get home to clean and fawn over the finds. For those who made it through my longest winded trip report, I appreciated your fanfare in my shared fossil hunting excitement.
Good luck and wish you all good finds for 2009 !!!