Inclimate weather is not always a bad thing!
This weekend my sister was passing through the area and we made some plans to do some fossil hunting. So on Friday I drove up to Greenville by way of Aurora to see what there was to be seen. I finally got there after sitting in traffic which turned an hour and a half drive into nearly three hours so I already wasn’t in a good mood and when I looked around I didn’t feel like digging so I just surface collected. And of course I didn’t see anything really just lying out. Then again it was the summertime and the piles were probably picked over really well.
I hadn’t been there 15 minutes when it started getting dark; really dark. There were rumbles of thunder in the distance and the wind really picked up and a wall of dark black clouds started moving in. As the heavy raindrops started to fall I sat there looking around expecting to see a funnel cloud with such a violent looking front moving in. After awhile I gave up and drove through the rain up to Greenville.
The next morning after sleeping in and the early 7am start never happened I got up and for some reason didn’t really feel like hopping into the GMR. The spoil piles were calling my name. So we headed back to Aurora on a cloudy day an started digging in to see what there was to be found. The finds came slow and for awhile it seemed like a bad decision. That’s when the rain came. Really heavy showers moved in and the crowd of fossil collectors moved off to their cars, or underneath the pavilion or over to the museum until they passed. All except for one person who thought the rain was great since sifting in hot humid weather wasn’t fun at all. So I kept searching right along in the downpour. It was during that that I got my first great find; a really nice size complete upper hemi! I have bad luck when it comes to Hemi’s so finding a complete one with decent size was definitely a rarity. I also found a complete 1 ½” shark vertebrate that the rain had washed all the dirt off of that caused me to miss it before!
As the rain passed everyone started coming back over to the piles and continued their search for fossil treasures. A nice lady and her grandson came over to me and told me about their previous weekend trip to GMR and talked about some of the finds of the Eastern Carolina Fossil Club who were present that day. She mentioned she was from Ohio and was going to take her finds back to show a friend of hers. Upon hearing she was looking for but had yet to find a shark’s vertebrate I gave her the big one I found as well as three smaller ones that I picked up to which she was grateful. They moved off in there search but later mentioned that they should have brought a shovel. I went back to my car and grabbed my shovels and loaned them to them to which they were grateful.
It was shortly after that I filled up my screen and as I was removing the smaller material from it I saw some enamel flash in front of my eyes as I was shaking the screen back and forth. I put the screen down and started looking. I thought it was a big sand tiger but the first thing that popped into view as I was pushing around the material was a big blade! A really nice 2” mako appeared in front of me and was only missing a chip of enamel from the blade. I was almost certain that was going to be my find of the day! I kept searching the screen and found a broken sand tiger. So my eyes weren’t deceiving me! Then right after that I found the second Mako in the screen. This one was just shy of an inch and a half long. What a great screen.
I continued the search and soon pulled out a big chunk of a meg tooth, which was about 2 ½” long. I placed it in my tooth case and continued searching.
As the museum crowd grew and more and more people started searching the piles I started having more and more people come up to me. One of those was a probably 7 or 8 year old boy who had a knack for finding pieces of whale bone; piece after piece of whale bone. He stated how he would find enough to put a complete skeleton together. After every piece he would find he would bring it over to me and show it to me and state, “look at this piece of whale bone”! To which I would take it out of his hand, look at it, and say it really looked like a rock to me. However despite the rock whale specimens he was finding he was determined to get a complete specimen before the day was out so after I had inspected about 40 of his finds I left my spot and walked over to the car and got out the bin of bones that I add to every time I am in GMR. I selected some larger rib pieces 7-10” long and an ear bone (Tympanic Bulla) and walked back over to the kid as he came up to me with a piece of skull from the very common rock whale. I handed him the GMR bones and explained what they were in which he very excitedly handed me the rock whale, took the bones and bulla and skipped away to show his family. Well that seemed to work and shortly after when he came over to talk to me again I gave him the piece of Megalodon tooth that I had found earlier as well. I also found a little 1” meg which had a root lobe missing and was a real shamer due to it was in perfect condition and gave that to the kid as well. And then found a good size Mako blade that I handed to his little sister.
That family left a little while later and I continued my search as light showers continued to roll through and I was joined by a mine employee and his girlfriend and the mine employee also named Mike showed me some of the teeth he had found while working at the mine including some awesome looking Mako’s.
Continuing the search at one point I scooped up a shovel full of material and sitting right on top I saw what I was ultimately looking for. I carefully set the shovel down and plucked out the 2” meg sitting with the root exposed on top. The root was complete and I was very optimistic. As I pushed the mud and material off of the tooth I saw that it was almost complete except for a little damage on the tip of the tooth. Either way it was an awesome find! And definitely my best meg tooth yet! Now I was in Gravy mode. Although I wont actually say that while hunting because I find its bad luck.
Other finds kept coming as well including a dolphin tooth, a cow shark tooth which was great, a thresher shark tooth (I may be wrong) and many more pieces of megs.
Towards the end of the day though all my finds got topped as my sister who was obviously bored and not finding anything really to note was scratching around in someone else’s previously dug hole and had a nearly complete 3 ½” meg fall out in front of her. It was missing part of the root lobe but other then that it was completely awesome! What complete luck that was.
Eventually it got dark and it was time to call it a day so we headed back to Greenville to get up early the next morning and jump into the GMR.
The next morning after managing to wake up early enough we made it to the creek and made our way downstream. I had only really searched once in that area and was waiting all week long to try it again. It was overcast and extremely humid and it wasn’t long before I was completely drenched in sweat after hauling my gear and a large cooler of ice and cold beverages around and then shoveling gravel. The finds came really slow and I switched spots frequently until I got to a spot that looked promising. It did indeed turn out well as I found a nice 1 and 1/8” great white, some worn mako teeth, a worn 2 ½” meg and a lot of bones (of the non rock variety). I continued my search in different areas and made my way as far as I have ever been to the river and at my last stop I picked a spot with a big log sticking partially out into the stream. I dug up the sand and gravel and filled a couple screens and the teeth were definitely there. I pulled out a beautiful modern tiger (Galeocerdo Cuvier) and several smaller teeth. I also managed a piece of a meg tooth with absolutely perfect serrations on it. I wish I had found the whole tooth but that is the way of the GMR. Someday that tooth will make its way into my screen however but unfortunately it wasn’t this day.
I headed back up to where I left my gear and where my sister was searching but not finding anything and got a cold drink and sat down on the cooler to enjoy it. The clouds were thickening and after not having the expected production I was hoping for were ready to make my way back upstream. So we gathered up all our gear and started trudging back up to the bridge. We got back to green Springs Park and sent my sister back to her car to remove all her previous days finds which she took with her into the creek because I told her it was bad luck to take previous days finds on the next fossil hunting trip and that was the reason she wasn’t finding anything. I have really developed a lot of superstitions and such for fossil hunting. But I think everyone has those, such as never changing your socks when your on a roll, or always wearing the same shirt, or shorts while fossil hunting, or never carrying anything with a bar code or price tag due to it decreases the amount of mojo or taking new gear into the field when hunting a new site. Yeah after hearing about that I don’t do that either. HA HA.
Anyways when my sister returned from the car I was sitting on the cooler again, its really a great seat, and I was looking up at the sky and had this weird feeling that it would be better to call it a day at GMR. There were thunderstorms in the area and it was just a gloomy day and after stating I think we should get out of the creek to my sister she agreed and we packed up the gear stopped at McDonalds and that’s when my hunch turned out to be a good one because the sky became really dark and the wind picked up and it started to rain. And not just rain but it RAINED. I have seen calmer conditions in a hurricane! The wind roared, thunder and lightning cracked and boomed, sheets of rain came pelting down and I was definitely happy we weren’t standing in the creek at that moment. We started driving along in the storm and despite not being able to see 50 feet in front of the cars at times managed to get to where else but back to Aurora. Hey it was only one in the afternoon and there was still plenty of daylight left. It must have been the right decision because when we got to Aurora the rain stopped and we got back out to the piles and I was shocked to see that despite the rain there were a lot of people out there. I wandered over to the piles and looked around to see if the rain had washed anything out and where I was scratching around the day before and right out in the open was a 1 ½” mako. Not a bad way to start and as I was standing there a little kid and his dad came up and that kid was excited to be looking for teeth. The kid’s father told me they were originally going fishing today but the weather cancelled their plans so they wound up looking for sharks teeth instead. Seems like a good backup plan to me. I showed the kid the mako I just found and asked if he found one that big yet and he was shocked and replied no. He was gripping it tightly and his dad noticed quickly and told him he knew he wanted to keep it but its not his and to give it back. I laughed and told him that he can keep it and was answered by a big grin. For the next few minutes the kid was like a shadow as I wandered around looking for teeth and found a big sand tiger as well easily an inch and a half long if not more and was complete. I handed it to the little kid and then I was ready to head over to the museum. I retrieved my yesterdays finds (which I hadn’t cleaned off yet) and wandered over and the two wonderful ladies at the museum were happy to look through them. And definitely pointed out they were still dirty and I should have washed them off.
I picked out the select few I wanted to keep and then gave them all the rest to include smaller makos, hemi’s, sand tigers, meg halfs and little vertebrates and the usual stuff and talked with them for a bit. I ended up giving them the great white I found earlier as well and also a perfect sand tiger from GMR. That’s when the rain started picking back up and despite the fact that it was raining I couldn’t hold back and scampered back over to the piles to look around some more.
The finds came really slow and I was always tempted to move especially when after an hour and some my best find was another decent vert which was an inch wide. Moving to my next spot was the play of the day and my first find was what I believe to be my first hooked mako! It was missing one root lobe but other than that was awesome. I walked over to show my sister and a couple other ladies who were talking to her and when I returned to the spot I was searching there in the middle in plain view and obviously fell out as soon as I walked away was a 2 1/2” split meg! I continued searching and the finds came including some broken makos and some hemis and such and finally we decided to call it a day. All my finds other then the split mako I gave to a girl who was down visiting her grandparents with her dad.
All in all it was a great weekend even if the weather didn’t fully cooperate. I am really glad that PCS provides all that material and that there is a museum there. The staff is always friendly and who doesn’t like walking around looking at awesome displays of fossils and artifacts, especially when the weather is a little too rough to be wandering around the creeks. I am going to make it a habit of returning most of my finds from the spoils to the museum so they can use them for the many projects they undertake!
I also think I need to take a “Condensed Writing Class” due to I always write novels for trip reports. What can I say; I am a stickler for details.
Until next time, good hunting!