I was fooling around with the new microscope, taking some unimportant pieces from trips past to practice a bit of sewing needle prep.
Back in the summer I had crossed the river at Arkona to check out the south banks for the first time. It was underwhelming as it looked pretty picked over, and exposures were too dangerous to access. I had noticed a pile of Widder shale that someone had obviously placed there - mostly broken bits and other stuff that would be somewhat decent for a first time collector. I make similar conspicuous piles for others of stuff that doesn't meet my standards, or of fossils I already have too many of.
So the piece I was fiddling with is the light beige one on the far right, found on August 18th. You can see the impression of a full prone Greenops widderensis, as well as a busted up prone next to it - a classic piggy pile. Whoever got the other side probably felt pretty lucky. Although it was not a complete one, I put it in my collecting bucket anyway.
My delightful discovery of a third Greenops on that slab I was working on back in late October (post here) taught me something: the rich yet very thin Greenops layer tends to have them in multiple assemblages.
Fast forward to now.
I figure why not take the chance to see if there are any more lurking under here? I think you know where this is going! I began chipping away at various spots and saw some thoracic segments sticking out beneath the broken cephalon in the centre.
Over two hours of using the sewing needle, I continued chipping away. Under serious magnification, it gave me a great deal more precision in removing matrix. Yeah, the impression had to be sacrificed, but for the good cause of a full prone trilobite! I decided to keep the broken cephalon on the top to make it an interesting association piece.
I also uncovered more of the head of the top one, and discovered a pyritized partial below it. The next step was abrasion under serious magnification (where a single segment might take up my entire field of view), followed by some more sewing needle work.
Not too bad! It has a few problems (two right pygidial spike tips are broken, parts of it seem to be rolled underneath itself slightly, and the glabella got crushed during preservation), but I'm proud of this one. A last step may be to find a way of getting out the ugly tool marks.
This is a comparison of where I began, and where it ended up.
So, not as good as some of my more seasoned and experienced fossil preparators I know, but a good start where the right tools make a real difference.
I still have some other Widder shale from previous trips that were disappointments showing a full impression and little else, so perhaps I ought to have a closer look. Or, as my fossil comrade Malcolm says, I should go out and buy a lottery ticket.
Until the big, thick, white blanket of winter is yanked off, it looks like my adventures will be confined to what I can do indoors. Over the past year I've been gradually adding more fossil preparation gear, and although there are a few more items left on the list, it is coming along nicely.
Let's start off with a before and after picture of the space that I finally got around to clearing up:
Much neater. There's not terribly lots of space in my house, and the basement is largely dominated by exercise equipment. Still, I did manage to secure this corner of the basement. All I now need to complete the furniture is to get a second working surface to the right of the first one. All the necessary tools are in their rollout drawer or on the top. I'll need to develop a system to place the compressor in a better spot, with holsters for the scribe and abrader. A work in progress, but definitely an improvement!
This little toy may make sewing needle based prep a bit easier. The lenses swap out at different magnifications of 10x, 15x, 20x and 25x, and comes with neat side-mounted LED lights. These might actually be very helpful in the field for getting close to the ground and looking for tinier fossils.
And this arrived the same day as well. An OMAX 3.5x-90x trinocular scope with a USB-fed 3.2 MP camera. It took a ridiculous amount of time to assemble this as it came in a zillion pieces, and the instruction manual that it came with was for an entirely different model (and written in that transliterated Chinese that reads very awkwardly. It comes with 10x and 20x wide-field eye lenses, and a Barlow lens to permit working at a distance - essential once I get a blast box. I went with the adjustable boom as the scope needs to rest on the outside of the blast box glass. Looking through the eye pieces at the right distance takes some getting used to.
The scope came with camera software, but it was on a CD... and no Apple products come with a CD/DVD drive anymore. It took some sleuthing online to find the software for download. It will take some learning with the software and how to line up the specimens properly for photography. There is a pull-out stop that sends the light up through the camera lens mount, which cuts out light to the left eye piece. What I see through the eye piece is not what shows up on the screen, so some jiggering about is necessary. Pictured here is a fairly nice closeup of a Greenops trilobite that would be about an inch long, of which you can see about a quarter of it here.
This will be very useful for detailed preparation. It would not be useful to get too much closer than 40x-50x for that purpose.
All that remains now is to get the blast box, shop vac, and to work on how to vent it outside (maybe through the dryer vent). I anticipate my next blog post here will either be something to do with the fruits of preparation, or in a package of trilobites from Europe from a forum friend - whichever comes first!
Hunkering down to keep warm in snowy London, until next time.
We just got back from ten lovely days in Montego Bay, and although the trip was not about fossils as much as it was about indulging in a lot of sun, sand, and recovering from a hectic semester, there were a few accidental fossil moments.
Much of the rock in Montego Bay is limestone dating from between the Mesozoic to Cenozoic, and is dominated by corals - just as coral reefs dominate there today. After I went snorkelling in a living coral reef, our boat docked at Margaritaville where, just outside the club, there was a large shelf of limestone filled with fossilized coral colonies as pictured here.
The corallites on this one are very finely detailed. So I did manage, with the aid of a hand-sized rock, to hammer out a few specimens as souvenirs.
Due to the abundance of the local limestone, it is commonly used as a building material.
A gastropod fossil.
An oyster shell fossil.
UPDATE: Upon my return home, there was a package waiting for me from the UK. My Forum friend John sent me a lovely little gift with a card, some whiskey, and this Silurian trilobite piece from Wren's Nest in Dudley.
On Sunday, I had an opportunity to dig in the south pit for about 6 hours. The going wasn't easy: it was cold, for one. And it was very mucky. My goal was to locate full specimens of the two trilobites Crassiproetus canadensis and Basidechenella arkonensis. I have only found fragments in the past, and they occur in the Hungry Hollow Member of the Widder Formation along with Eldredgeops rana and a zillion corals in the coral biostrome. In some cases, there is more coral than matrix! Finding a full one in that layer is not easy as they usually occur as disarticulated fragments.
Arkona's south pit in the morning. There were patches of ice about.
It's early in the trip because I can actually see my boots. By the end of the day, they will be covered in gloopy mud. By my boot is a medium sized coral "pie." I don't really pick up corals anymore.
This is the bench where I've set up for the day. The goal will be to dig into it rather than widen it. It looks quite nice and clean here, but after about an hour the underground water was seeping out and turning the whole bench into orange-grey-brown sucking mud. There were a few mudslides and a rock slide.
It's hard to tell because of all the mud obscuring this rock, but there is a trilobite fragment in here (the darker brown bit in the upper centre). Whenever I encountered a fragment, I put it in the bucket for closer investigation at home. I also brought a spray bottle so that I can see what was under the mud.
So this is what I was dealing with. The rock at the top eventually gave way. The matrix itself is either concrete hard coral cement, or comes out mushy and flaky, but not a lot in between. It is, however, easy to work with on the prep bench. By this time, I'm covered in mud. My gloves are just floppy mud mitts, and my tools are caked. I had to go to the river and wash them off halfway through the day.
Another early win, of a sorts. This is a piece of Eldredgeops rana cephalon.
Thorax and pygidium of a Basidechenella peeking out of the matrix. Into the bucket it goes in the hopes I can discern if it will be a complete specimen.
The cephalon of another Basidechenella. As before, into the bucket for closer inspection at home.
Sometimes one has to chop through a lot of coral. This one just kept going and going. It was about well over two feet in circumference. Here I am chopping out chunks of it to free up the layer.
A chunk of that tabulate coral. Overall, it was a frustrating, cold, muddy day where I didn't have too much to show for it - this being likely my last trip of the year, and thus not ending on a high note. I collected a lot of the usual Arkona stuff like crinoid ossicles, etc., but even scanning the Arkona mud-shale was not being generous as it was all swollen with moisture.
I always collect these when I find them. This is the gastropod Platyceras conicum, which can be easily distinguished from the more snail-like Platyceras arkonense by virtue of its cone-like shape. This one is of a fairly good size and condition.
The sad news is that none of the trilobites turned out to be complete. The ones on the top and the left are Basidechenella, while the one on the right is Crassiproetus.
Using some tools to expose the trilobite a bit more, a closeup of the most complete Basidechenella I found that day.
A closeup on the other side of one of these rocks reveals the pygidium of a Crassiproetus.
So no big wow specimens pulled out this trip, but as my friend Tim says, "a bad day fossil hunting is better than a good day at work."
Until next time.
Given the heavy grading work at the backend of this year, and the dodgy weather, I am having to call it on the collecting season. November has been a fairly poor month for collecting: if it wasn't raining (or snowing), the nicer days frustratingly coincided with days I had to be on campus.
But as I lay down my trusted tools in my move from labour to refreshment, I can look back on this year having been my absolute best. And, perhaps, much credit is due those reliable tools that have served me so well in breaking through hundreds of tons of rock. Of course, credit is mostly due my lovely partner Deb who not only added thousands of clicks to the car, but for being such an enthusiastic co-collector.
This year's trips included:
* 2 to Penn Dixie (Devonian)
* 2 to Brechin (Ordovician)
* 1 to Bowmanville (Ordovician)
* 1 to Collingwood area (Ordovician)
* 12+ to Arkona (Devonian)
* 30+ to my nearby honey hole (Devonian)
Many of those trips have reports posted here in the blog. It has also meant meeting plenty of new collecting friends with whom to break rock with. If that were not in itself fantastic, I also got into preparation courtesy of having purchased an air eraser and air scribe. I've upped my game considerably, turning a casual hobby into a true passion. It was not that long ago that I may have made a few short visits to Arkona and in my backyard with little more than a nail hammer and a wood chisel. Now, with the right tools, I carved out hundreds of feet of benches and cracked hundreds of tons of rock. The collection has grown by an order of magnitude.
I also purchased or was gifted several delightful pieces this year. Another aspect that has made this a banner year would be a surge of trilobites where 2017 added no fewer than 29 new species, a few of them very rare and not reliably reported in the literature.
Above is a snapshot of many of the new species in my display.
So, last year I made a "best of" post for each category. This year is going to be immensely difficult to make those choices as so many of them are deserving of the honour. But try I must.
Best trilobite of the year
Despite all the lovely ones I've purchased, received, and found - particularly from the Ordovician - I'm giving the nod to this lovely plate of three full Greenops widderensis. Certainly this species is not new to the collection, but the rarity of finding so many clustered together like this in a difficult matrix makes it worthy. My runners-up would be Mannopyge halli, and Isotelus, Ceraurus, and, well, all the other ones I found!
Honourable mention goes to this beauty, expertly prepped by Malcolm Thornley.
Best cephalopod of the year
It's a three-way tie. It could have been four if I included the the big nautiloid whoppers I found at Brechin. Clockwise from top left: a lovely Goniatite from Arkona, some lovely Jurassic ammonites from Roger, and an exquisitely pyritized nautiloid from the Widder shale.
Best PISCES of the year
Amidst some cool placoderm pieces, and some really neat Diplurus pieces from Tim, the prize this year goes to Deb and her huge chunk of placoderm armour belonging to Protitanichthys.
Best gastropod of the year
Plenty of contenders this year, including some nicely preserved Platyceras, and some rarer spired gastros from the Verulam Formation, but I'm settling on this long one from the Verulam for its size alone.
BEst bryozoan of the year
I always pick up interesting looking bryozoans, and this year saw quite a few. However, hands down, this Constellaria from the Verulam Fm will take the prize if only on account of its exceptional rarity in that formation.
Best ichnofossil of the year
I don't really get jazzed about ichnofossils, but this broom-headed one was so worth picking up that even Deb found one on our second trip to Brechin. This one is Phycodes ottawensis, and these are formed by worms burrowing from the same spot repeatedly taking different pathways in the muck.
best phyllocarid of the year
Another fantastic find by Deb at Arkona, a thick phyllocarid jaw. This would be our first.
best brachiopod of the year
No point making a decision. I've pulled quite a few nice brachs this year, but this smorgasbord of about 1,000 intact ones spanning 6 species from Penn Dixie will have to be the winner this year.
I'm begging off the best coral of the year, and a few other categories. I can say the fossil I collected that came from the farthest distance from home would be the Cretaceous oysters and sundry bits from Magoita Beach in Portugal.
But this year would not have been anywhere near as spectacular if it weren't for the people whose time, company, and generousity truly made it shine. Apart from Deb, I can certainly add to the roster of great fossil companions, Tim J., Malcolm T., Roger F., Jay W., Kevin B., Kevin K., Jason R., Ralph J., Marc H., Ron B., and others I may have neglected to mention.
Best year ever! And thanks to the visitors to this blog for reading. Perhaps more posts will be in the offing as winter time means being holed up indoors and engaging in some prep.
UPDATE: Malcolm just showed me a few bugs of mine and Deb's that he prepped. A true master. The left one is Ceraurus and the right one is a Greenops.
Today's special surprise was the arrival of some lower Devonian trilobites from Bolivia. Many of these are preserved in nodules, and so it is neat to keep the impression as well. Looking outside to see the new blanket of snow was a bit depressing, but there's nothing like a few trilobites to brighten the day.
From top to bottom, we have Malvinella buddeae, Eldredgeia eocryphaeus, and Eldredgeia venustus. The first one is rare, and the other two are fairly common - but not excessively so. These are found in the Belen Formation, way up in the La Paz region at an altitude of about 4000 ft. The seller I purchased these from seems to specialize in this region's fossils, and the prices were very reasonable. The E. venustus does have its tail tucked in behind, and from a side view looks like a slipper. I've added more detailed pictures in the trilobite gallery.
Pictured here is the very inviting forest path that leads to my little honey hole out behind my home. I have to say that this spot has treated me very well this year. Just as I think I've picked it clean and there are no new things to be seen, I get a surprise. No surprises this time, though.
Having spent four years coming back to this place, each year has presented something new. But it is perhaps in this last year that my finds from there have really been great. Back in 2013, I was shocked to find some Eldredgeops rana, but this year I've been able to be more systematic in identifying some of the imported fill by rock type, and direct my efforts accordingly. No fewer than three new trilobite specimens (all partials, sadly, but still interesting) have been logged into my collection: Anchiopsis anchiops, Mannopyge halli, and Trypaulites erinus.
(Pictured above: an apparent large, albeit incomplete, gastropod steinkern)
I must have picked over these rocks in the pit, hill, and surrounding area about 30-40 times this year - if only because it is conveniently just beyond my backyard. Rocks from the Dundee, Amherstburg, and Bois Blanc formations abound. Of course, there are hardly any larger rocks left to split so perhaps a good winter will weather out some promising rock for next season. I do secretly wish that more rock gets imported, but it has been a few years now.
(Pictured above: a few brachs, including some lovely vermillion-coloured Leptaena - a brachiopod that is fairly abundant in this area).
I have a soft spot for this location ever since I found some coral and a spirifer back in 2013. I had been walking the trails back there since 2010 or so every autumn, but finding those fossils rekindled a childhood passion of mine, and at a time when things were particularly very challenging in my life.
(Pictured above: more Leptaena)
How far I've come since, and as I've changed and grown, so too has the site itself. Every year it takes on a radically new appearance, with new exposures, new lines of undergrowth. When I started picking things over here, all I had was a rusty old nail hammer and a wood chisel. Today I have my arsenal of precision rock hammers, sledges, and cold chisels. With better tools, better knowledge, and a better eye, better specimens have been the happy result.
(Pictured above: trilobite pieces (cephalon fragment, pygidium fragments, thoracic fragment).
I've collected at locations that have far more diversity, fossil abundance, and more interesting specimens, but this collecting location is special to me. It is the place where it all began (or at least picked up where I left off in childhood). It is the place that provided me with respite during very bad times. A place of solace and surprise, situated where I am the happiest: in nature, among the rocks and trees.
This site has been exceedingly kind to me this year, and even if next year's finds may be minimal, it has been generous enough already. And although I may only come back with something of interest to me once out of every 4 or even 10 visits, it is still a place where I never feel the time spent was time wasted. And just when I least expect it, that there is really nothing to be found on a visit, it just takes one rock split to transform a casual visit into a trip to remember.
Recently, Ralph J., a Fossil Forum friend, had made a trip to Georgia to collect some fossils from the Conasauga Formation, which is Cambrian in age. After he had posted his finds from the trip, I expressed delight at the seeming abundance of trilobites in the mudstone-shale, and he very kindly offered to send me some of the trilobites and some matrix to split. I was absolutely floored with his generousity - and this was only exceeded by the size of the box. There will be enough for Deb and me to split for a while.
And none too soon, either! The forecast is calling for flurries this Friday, which hopefully does not prematurely bring closure to such a memorable 2017 collecting season. I am dimly holding out hope that there will be at least one day left where Malcolm and I can get out to Arkona... just one last kick at the can before the snows fly.
At the moment, I am completely buried under a lot of grading and other work, so this gift arriving in the mail was certainly a great respite. I have not yet had an opportunity to get at the matrix, but here is a four panel picture of the newly added species to my burgeoning collection, Aphelaspis brachyphasis.
The matrix itself has a kind of slick, smooth, almost velvety texture. It splits fairly easily, and has a nice olive and tan colour to it, some with a deep orange staining, sometimes yellow (a very colourful matrix!). This layer has virtually nothing else visible to the eye except for this species of trilobite, and more uncommonly small fragments of a very tiny agnostid trilobite that perhaps only a magnifying lens will be able to spot.
These guys can be pretty small. The biggest ones are about under an inch, with plenty of others barely a millimetre or so long. The preservation is new to me. The trilobites are replaced entirely by minerals and in-filled with a kind of mud, and so you may find more detail in the impression than in the positive.
I've made the attempt above to put one of the very tiny ones (~1.5 mm) under the digital microscope to show some of the diagnostic details. Not the best picture, but you get the idea. Once I find the time to go through the matrix, I may have some better examples to show - and even if not, these are welcome new specimens to the collection.
Stay tuned as I am expecting three species of trilobite from Bolivia, and eventually my air scribe to work on some of my previous finds in the hopes of discovering some surprises.
I was tinkering around this rainy autumn morning at the prep bench. After finding and preparing that lovely pair of Greenops I found at Arkona (report here), I figured there wasn't much else to do with it. Aesthetically, it would have been nice if I could safely trim the rock down as the pair are clustered at one end of a larger slab. So, I figured I'd play around with exploring the rest of the rock, seeing if there was anything else on the bedding plane. While I was doing that, the rock broke at the far end. Fortunately, the pair of trilobites were unaffected as the split happened at the opposite end of the rock. But it was then that I spied the impression of a third Greenops!
The first task was to glue the rock back as it had split across the contact point between the cephalon and the thorax. You can barely see the crack now, and it seems well stabilized. Once the glue dried, it was time to uncover a bit more.
The pygidial spines were uncovered, and they seem to be in good shape.
A close-up. There is some significant damage on this one. I've flipped the image to show the trilobite right side up. The right side is missing a piece of its cephalon, the eye, and the genal spine. Also, there are two missing segments on the right side of the thorax. The left is also in rough shape. I'm not sure if the genal spine is intact, and it is missing portions of at least five ribs on its thorax.
So what is next? I'm going to have to learn how to do restoration, using grafting of pieces from some of my spare partials that I've collected in the past. For that I am going to need a good mix of glue, magnification, and patience. I'll update this post when I can get around to performing this surgical task!
UPDATE: As I was poking around a bit more, a nautiloid joined the party. It came flaking off, so I had to glue him back down.
I also had some time to prepare an Eldredgeops rana roller I found at Penn Dixie earlier this month.
Once I pried it out of the matrix, here it is in all its dusty, caked glory. This won't be simply a good scrubbing, but will take a mix of needles, air abrasion, and a special solution for softening the tough and stubborn matrix.
So I used the Paasche air eraser at 20-30 PSI, using 40 micron dolomite, for about 30 minutes. That, and other finishing touches, this one is nearly flawless. Have a look at the detailed pictures below:
And this is where this fantastic, whirlwind, whistle-stop tour comes to an end: at the St Marys Cement quarry in Bowmanville. This quarry is massive, and it only opens up to collectors once or twice a year - and in that case, only to collectors who are part of a recognized club (and so Deb and I are new members of the Scarborough gem and mineral club). Safety is paramount at any quarry, and this one is no exception. Full safety gear is just the minimum, for there are plenty of other safety policies we are obliged to follow. We all assiduously follow all the rules as we want to maintain goodwill with the quarry owner. Violating safety is not only dumb and dangerous, but it risks collectors being entirely shut out from there forever.
And so we began gathering in the parking lot around 8 am. The quarry is known for producing a lot of Isotelus and Pseudogygites trilobites. The workers see some of these big creatures going up the conveyor to be crushed to make cement and call them "turtles." And these trilobites can get pretty massive.
This is how my day started. We had planned on just driving up to a hotel in Bowmanville, but they were all booked up. The one time I didn't book in advance since I figured, heck, it's Bowmanville... How hard could it be to find a place for the night? Famous last words! Fortunately, the kind staff at the local hotel called around and we got a place just 14 km up the road in Oshawa. The picture above is a brand new day as we are leaving the hotel to join our collecting comrades at the quarry.
This is our crew eagerly awaiting entry. Our trip leader, Kevin, said that this must have been the biggest turnout for a day at Bowmanville. Weather may also have something to do with it: usually without fail the trip occurs when it is cold, rainy, or both. On this day, it was warm and sunny.
This is a serious quarry. That truck on the right has tires taller than me!
Once we signed our forms and had the safety talk from the quarry foreman, we formed a convoy of cars and entered the quarry. This quarry is so large that you actually do have to drive from one blast pile to the next. Many of us started at level 3. Those piles aren't tiny, and you are scrambling up piles of rock that can in some cases be the size of small apartment buildings.
Yours truly giving closer inspection at a low-lying pile. Scale is tough to make out in this picture, but that wall in the background is probably about 300 or so metres away. The "trick" at this quarry is not to stay in one place to split rock, but to cover a lot of ground. About three of our crew have rock saws, and so what you do when you find a great specimen in some car-sized slab of rock is to mark it with tape so that at the end of the day the guys with saws can cut it out for you.
My first find of the day: a beat up Flexicalymene. The stratigraphy of the quarry has a lot to offer. At the very bottom is the Verulam Formation (the dominant unit at Brechin), and over top that in levels 2-3 is the Lindsay Formation. At the very top is the Collingwood Member with rich black shales that are easy to split.
The Isotelus trilobites here are huge. Sadly, you mostly encounter fragments. This piece here would have belonged to a critter at least 14 or more inches long.
Massive genal spine, likely from an Isotelus mafritzae.
Someone got to this one before I did! That lucky collector hopefully got this one cut out of the rock. It looks like an intact Isotelus roller. Apart from some blast/quarry damage, it is likely complete.
Another early part of the day find, a partial Isotelus mafritzae. It is sadly a common feature that the eyes get busted off. I don't want to give the impression that the collecting was as simple as stumbling over thousands of this lovely fossils: you could scan quite literally hundreds of tons of rock and find very little beyond occasional fragments. Apart from some occasional brachiopods or crinoid stems, there isn't a lot of diversity in these rocks, so it is pretty much trilobite or bust! It's also rough going... I was having to scramble over enormous building-sized piles of rock with a bucket and heavy backpack on uneven slabs, so not so easy as it looks!
Some of our more seasoned veteran collectors didn't make out so well this time around. One found a few mostly complete Ceraurus, and another collector find a nice plate of full - but somewhat damaged - Pseudogygites, but some of our best collectors made out poorly or were entirely skunked. But at the very least, I think everyone came away with something even if it wasn't a prize and pristine Isotelus. More importantly, it was great to hunt with everyone.
This is just part of the head of an Isotelus. It would have been, full, at least 13 inches long! This was an encouraging find as I was gradually becoming a bit more discouraged in not finding anything complete.
Another sweet, if incomplete, find. The trilobite Pseudogygites latimarginatus also occurs in this tough limestone, but unlike how it appears in the upper member of the Collingwood shale, they come out with a fine exoskeleton texture and fully inflated rather than flattened. This one I carefully extracted from a very large slab. It has some thorax, which is much better than the zillions of just tail moult pieces one usually encounters. Pseudogygites and Isotelus are effectively closely related species.
partial roller missing a lot of parts.
I put the biggest fragments I came across into the collecting bucket as a souvenir of the trip.
Just... wow. A fragment alone almost a foot long!
I pulled this rock out that had a thin line running through it which I suspected to be an Isotelus. When I got home I split it and out came a fragment. A fairly mighty one.
As our time was coming to a close, Deb and I made our way to the uppermost level where there are enormous books of black shale belonging to the Collingwood Member. There are quite literally thousands of Pseudogygites latimarginatus and Triarthrus eatoni moulted bits among the brachiopods. Finding a full one of either is not easy, and so you have to split shale in massive volume. Fortunately, it splits easily and finely, and it is like the pages of a book. If I had a trip-maker, it might be this small but full Pseudogygites above, showing both the positive and negative impression.
So, wow. What a trip it has been! Three days spanning over 400 km and three quarries - Arkona, Brechin, and Bowmanville. I was able to collect with old friends, and make new ones. Although I don't think I found anything scientifically significant, I did manage to collect some very nice specimens (including that pair of Greenops on a single plate!). I was able to add two more species of trilobite I did not have (Amphilichas ottawensis and Isotelus mafritzae).
I'm hoping this will be an annual tradition from this point on. It sure is exhausting, though! But the thrill of the hunt, the camaraderie of being with other collectors, the sharing of knowledge, and all that lovely fresh air and sun does one good.
Reflecting on October, it has been a great month for collecting. I've been to Arkona a few times, to Brechin and Bowmanville, three days at Penn Dixie, and even found a new species of trilobite in my backyard region. And inasmuch as October has been a true surprise, this year has long ago distinguished itself as the absolute very best year for all things fossil. So what's next? Winter is just around the corner, and maybe - just maybe - I might be able to squeeze out one or two more trips before I have to put away the hammers for the season. But with my air eraser, and my air scribe coming, I can at least spend those cold, snowy months preparing all that I have found this year.