Well, I got a mail last week from the dragline operator to inform me he had been working on the echinoid-layer. So if I would like, I was welcome to try my luck! Me wanting to come was not the problem, but work and a bad, persistant cold were. That and the cold wind. So I had to bide my time a bit, but did managed to get out there the other day.
How did I do? Well, the newly exposed layers looked promising. Not a footprint to be seen, so I still had first pick. Guess the weather had kept other from hunting as well. Anyway, the pickings were poor. I found only some 10-odd echs up there on the upper ledges, with 1-2 worth keeping. The rest I dropped of with the quarry-owner, for kids, schools and hunters from afar.
Next, I decided to check out the material that had been removed and thrown down 3-4 ledges, all the way down to the bottom of the quarry. Along the way this material gets mixed with material from other, fossil-poor layers, so I did not have high hopes.
Still I walked around and found several echs, most in much better condition than those found up on the ledge. Picking them out is a bit hard, as they tend to be smudged with chalk, so I try to reach out for my "zen-state" and focus on shape rather than color. It is hard sometimes this way, to distinguish a ech-shaped piece of chalk from a true echinoid, but over time I think I got the hang of it. Still I always check out places anew after some good showers and always find some specimens that I missed earlier on.
So enough small talk; why the title "King Echinoid"? That's because looking for odd-shaped clumps of chalk my eyes were caught by a big clump. Picking it up and feeling how heavy it was I knew I had finally found one of those rare and really big specimens. I first thought of taking a shot of the smudged ech @ home to show you how they look when found in the field, but ....... I was weak. I just couldn't wait to see whether it truly was as perfect as I thought it was under all that chalk. So I already cleaned it in a pool in the quarry.
So now I have my King and Queen......
Some hard data: 9 cm wide, 7 cm high and 29 cm! circumference. Weight: 0.7 Kg!