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Loving a Hurricane

     This is my first post to the site.  I am fairly new to fossil hunting.  I have always been interested, but have not done any.  Lots of interestsand hobbies to spend time on. I had found a few by accident in Perryville, Kentucky and southern New Mexico. 


     I moved to Virginia from MA 4 years ago and knew that there were places to hunt down here after reading about the whale skull at Calvert Cliffs.  I finally found time to do the research and starting at the end of June I started going down to Purse.  The first few times were not that successful.  I found 15-20 teeth the first time and a few more the next time, plus some bone fragments and the typical ray plates, turritellas and bivalves.  Though the largest otodus and largest sand tiger I have found were from the very first trip.  After those first few times I finally started to develop an eye for seeing them.  Other people seemed to be finding larger teeth (2-3” crocs and 2” otodus) but I was finding good amounts of teeth in the ¼ inch to ½ inch range and even smaller.  The next four trips were much better with over 500 teeth total of decent to excellent quality.  Included in those trips was a good paleocarcharadon, several s. striata with nice striations, some decent bone fragments up to 2½ inches, a piece of scute with bone structure under it, several sand dollar pieces, a piece of petrified wood and some unidentified fragments.  I got used to the blue/gray color of the teeth so it was interesting to find some laterals that were closer to white/gray.  Being pretty new to this, I enjoy every fossil I find.  I can understand how those who have gone for years to the various sites and have jars and jars of teeth can become a bit jaded, but I find them all interesting. 


    The news of Hurricane Hannah had me planning to make a trip down to Purse that day or the day after.  The streams breaching their banks in Alexandria had me putting off the trip to Sunday.  I usually try to go on the weekends when the low tide is in the afternoon as the trees put such a harsh shadow on the ground that it becomes difficult to see the teeth.  Fortunately the weekend of Hannah had high tide around noon and low tide at 6 pm.  I got to the beach at 12:20 at what was supposed to be high tide and the river was already running out.  It was very calm, but already about a foot below high.  The high water had pushed all of the wood and dead grass well up on the beach.  The shipwreck at the first bog was already exposed and the water running out of the bog was sluicing quite a bit.  I try to stop at the first bog for 15-20 minutes as I usually find some teeth.  I found a few small ones and was doing the ‘fossil stoop’ in the outrun when a Paraorthacodus sp. appeared in the water right in front of me.  It has three nice center points with two more cusplets on each side that are worn but visible.  Several other members have mentioned that this is rarer than the paleocarcharadon so I knew what it was right away.  I was trying to make it up to the second bog at the point by low tide as that has been successful before.  I was working my way up past the trees and under one of the fallen trees I found my first croc tooth.  It is only about 1 inch, but I was glad to find at least one since I had only found fragments before. 

     As I made my way up to the second bog I started to find more and more teeth in the tide line and just under the water.  The second bog has a nice sand bar at low tide and that day was no exception.  Unfortunately the storm blew a lot of hydrilia (sp?) onto it along with a lot more gravel.  That combined with four to six other people looking had me turning around after 15 minutes or so.  Plus it was about time for the tide to turn.  As I made my way slowly back to the other end I kept picking up more teeth.  I made it back to the first bog at about 7:15 and the tide was still running out!!  The storm definitely affected the tide as it was going out for about 8 hours.  Unfortunately it was too dark to stay.  It seems that the storm was not helpful for those who go to the other sites but it definitely helped at Purse.  My total take was 350+ teeth, including the bullhead tooth, along with a few small bone fragments, one croc tooth and some oversized ray plate fragments.  Alas, I am a hardcore film photographer so my photos are flatbed scans that I played with. Alas, no ‘wow’ factor to the photos.  Credit for the title goes to singer John Hiatt.

Location Potomac River, Maryland, USA

Date Added9/18/2008

Paleocarcharadon, otodus, anteriors
Petrified wood, ray plate, marine & reptile bone

Still Looking
Still Looking
A good trip in more ways than one
A good trip in more ways than one
Potomac River Trip 4/18/08
Potomac River Trip 4/18/08

nice post hope to see more in the future - 9/19/2008
Reviewer : sharkdentist from
Total Rating : 9.667
nice teeth. Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 9 of 10
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