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Yes Virginia, there are fossils in Hawai'i!

I relocated to Hawai'i in April, figuring that my fossil collecting days were behind me, to be exchanged for snorkeling, hiking, and maybe seeing the real thing in some of the shark-cage adventures.

But alas, I was wrong!

In my meanderings around O'ahu, I happened across a thin sedimentary sequence a few weeks back.  They are scattered here & there across the edges of the island, and consist mostly of a mix of coral reef rubble and volcanic debris.  They are very localized, and thin (<10 ft).  I was actually out walking the tidal pools that day with a friend when we came across it.  

Upon closer inspection, it was clear that this wasn't the typical coral/basalt rubble conglomerate, but an actual sandstone composed of weakly-cemented carbonate sand, mollusc fragments & such.  I quickly spotted a few pretty little gastropods, and decided to "walk the exposure" to see what I could find.  I retrieved about 10 different gastropods and a few bivalves, many with their original coloration.  At the near end of the 75-foot long exposure, I came across a larger cowrie, and as I picked it out of the strata, along with it came a small shark tooth!  I was stunned, and then chuckled to myself;  only a Lee Creek fanatic could find a fossil shark tooth in Hawai'i!  It turns out to be a lower Lemon shark (Negaprion sp.).  A few minutes later, I spotted a shark vertebra, about 1" in diameter!  Upon retrieval it was clearly from the local shark-god Galeocerdo cuvier (tiger shark).  

A few more gastropods later and I reached the end.  But I did notice along the way that some of the sand had cemented (calcite & iron) and fallen as blocks onto the beach.  So I poked & prodded it a bit, and low I spotted....something.  I knocked off the block containing the "something" and took it home to trim.  I've exposed it, and am venturing that it is either a weird fish phrangeal plate or the bottom of a crab carapace (yeah I know, that's quite a range).  This item is the last few photos, so if anyone has any ideas, I'm eager to hear them!

Well, since I've gathered my finds, I"ve done some searching, and other than Pleistocene bird bones contained in some lava tubes, vertebrate fossils are practically unheard of here.  Sweet!

They may not be big, or showy, but they're rarer than hen's teeth, so no complaints, eh?
Location Oahu, Hawaii, USA

Date Added8/6/2008


Hawaii-- 2nd trip, a mako tooth!  And a Sea Urchin!
Hawaii-- 2nd trip, a mako tooth! And a Sea Urchin!
Cat shark tooth & a Pufferfish jaw!
Cat shark tooth & a Pufferfish jaw!
Parrotfish jaw & a huge Cowrie!
Parrotfish jaw & a huge Cowrie!





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