My Second Fossil Expedition With My Daughter
The 4:30 a.m. alarm when off. In the haze of a left over dream I finally
realized I didn’t have to catch an early flight for work, but rather had to get
the coffee going for a Saturday East Coast Fossil Club (ECFC) expedition at the
Green Mill Run (GMR). With the coffee
brewing, I entered my daughter’s room and told her to get up and get ready to
go. This process was repeated three
times (to my astonishment) in between packing a cooler of water, snacks in back
packs…etc. Now you have to understand
that sometimes I will leave at 3:30 a.m. for my work to make sure I’m on a 6:00
a.m. flight at Raleigh or Charlotte.
Every time and I mean every time I leave she stands by her window refusing
to go back to bed until she sees me drive off.
I finally stated I was going to leave without her…… two feet finally made
contact with the floor and guided her downstairs.
The weather forecast looked ugly the first part of the week
but I could see as we departed that it was going to be a beautiful day. The skies slowly but surely got brighter as
we headed east. As we crossed over
Interstate 95, it appeared we were going back in time. An eerie fog materialized out of nowhere
which rendered the visibility in some patches to almost nothing. This, with the combination of the conifer
trees blurring along the sides of the roadways gave a prehistoric landscape
We finally entered Pitt County
and made a (put county name here) stop at McDonalds and introduced her to a
sausage / egg / cheese McMuffin. As I scarfed
my second one down I observed the sodium / fat content on the label of just one
as I quickly wadded it up in a ball and placed it on the tray. I then admired my washboard stomach even
though it now had 20 pounds of laundry on it.
I guess an extra hour of shoveling gravel will make it all better.
We arrived at the Green
just before 8:30 a.m. with the parking lot empty except for us. Soon others from the ECFC showed up with
still more later mid-morning. It was a
good turn out and you needed over two hands to count the final tally. My daughter even had a fossil buddy to dig
with. A boy named Raleigh (about my daughter’s age) was
escorted by her grandmother. Fossil
hunting… fun for all ages. The group
entered the creek and set up shop at various intervals, some doing a group dig
and some individual digs but always congregating back to a group to see what
finds were found.
This was the first time for me waderless at the Run. It was nice to shed my thermals and feel the
cool water. But I should have done one
thing…. NOT watch the Discovery Channel “Monsters Inside Me”. The various episodes with water born
parasites gave me the willies, especially since this is an urban creek / storm
sewer run off. I used to worry just
about tetanus from “nicks” from broken glass.
There was one episode in which the parasite entered through the base of
a hair follicle. Those episodes freaked
me out more than my first time watching Alien or the Exorcist. You just can’t be 100% dry doing this hobby at
My daughter and I finally made it up to the 10th Street
Bridge area with still no significant find uncovered. Although she was pretty darn proud of a small
GW with feeding damage that she found and correctly identified. I then had the pleasure of finally putting a
face to FossilMick as he wandered up stream and stopped for a short while to
chat. Word travels fast along the creek
and he stated that someone down stream found a monster mosasaur tooth. I wished him luck as his path took him
The mosasaur find sparked my curiosity and I decided to
retreat back downstream to see what the fuss was about. As I came up on a group of ECFC hunters I
inquired who has it. As luck would have
it, Dawyne (President of the ECFC) was blessed with the find. He said he would show it to me after he finished
going through his ½ screen. And as luck
would have it again, he pulled out a very nice Meg partial right in front of me
which I estimated to be around 4”. This
about made me sick (still working on one over 3”). Fellow hunter Christine found a beautiful
paleo drill partial that had a very unique color pattern to it. I
believe the material was black rhyolite.
An of course, Gerald (Greel) a.k.a. the Great White Tooth
Hunter was starting to become despondent with this finds and his quest for his
3” Grade A Carcharodon carcharias. I
thought the heat and humidity got to him as he exhumed a very nice tooth out of
his screen and mumbled that it was only a Mako (as he handed it to me as asked
if I wanted it). This “discard” ended up
replacing one of my larger two makos in a shadow box on my home office wall. Come to think of it, the replaced tooth was
another one of his discards. What a
friend! He then did an amazing
impression of Ferris Bueller’s Day off.
Bueller….. Bueller….. Bueller….
Or should I say…. bulla….. bulla…. bulla, as he pulled out whale ear
bone after whale ear bone (tympanic bulla) out of his screen.
Soon after FossilMick made it back downstream to us and asked
what the biggest barnacle you guys have found out here (as our fingers
placement showed 1 to 2 inches amongst us).
He then pulled out a protectively wrapped barnacle the likes I have
never seen. If this barnacle monsterus was
attached to a whale, it would have definitely affected its streamline. I forgot to take a picture of it. So…Mike, you need to show off that awesome
find and post a pix of it. I told him
that would make one hell of a desk pen holder.
Time flies when you are having fun so Gerald, my daughter
and I headed back down stream to call it a day.
Skylar didn’t want to go and still desired to sling more gravel. So I told her we would dig a while by the
gravel beach that was close to where we put it. As I sat there on the bank, I scanned the
area gravel and picked up some of the smaller teeth. Then right next to me I found what I believe
is my smallest GW which looked like a bottom tooth. Gerald seemed to agree with my ID as he dug
in his pocket and pulled out some more discards for me and Skylar. I told her one more shovel load and we have
to go (as I placed the large discards under the pile of gravel already in the
screen). I then told her (as I gave a
wink to Gerald) that I feel this will be a lucky shovel load. She dumped a load of gravel in the screen,
placed her shovel on the bank, grabbed both side handles and started to
sift. To her amazement she showed off
her nice finds, one after another, after another… I smiled as I told her it looks like you
With that we packed up and proceeded to the parking
lot. On our way we ran into Mike
(MikeDOTB) heading towards us on the park path.
We discussed fossils as he informed us of various so called monster
finds at various locations of the creek (A couple of 5” megalodons in the same
hole… can this be true?).
My finds were meager except for a couple of cool mackerel
sharks with cusps which I believe are Archaeolamna kopingensis and Cretolamna
appendiculata in addition to a lighting struck crow shark Squalicorax bassanii.