Tomorrow is back to work (or, 87 days until the end of the semester). I'm getting an early start on the season, mixed with post-season activities. On January 3rd, I spent about four hours out at my spot reducing bigger blocks into smaller ones. Not much at all was found that I was going to bring home, and certainly no lichid fragments save for one that was simply not worth it. But, at least I was out there before the snows came.
I didn't take more than a photo of this one as an interesting an illustrative example of a bedding plane with a sponge. Looking more closely, there are at least three rostroconch in the mix, a few trilobite pieces, a rugose coral, and maybe a few brachs. This photo was more about the bumpy sponge, however.
I got in the lab a few days ago as well to prep this trio of Eldredgeops rana rollers from the Arkona mudshale. I mostly relied on abrasion. This stuff cracks as it dries, so I needed to stabilize a few spots with cyanoacrylate. The bugs in this stuff are generally smaller than those at Penn Dixie, and those that are approaching that size are usually very poorly preserved. In this case, these are near Penn Dixie proportions, and just a little bit crushed. Their delicate, flaky nature in the Arkona meant that I had to leave some of the matrix in place -- and particularly where they crush leaving a kind of sharp crest rather than a rounded area. In the process, an eye flew off the bottom ventral, but I miraculously retrieved it from the blast box debris and glued it back on.
A good fossil friend of mine recently purchased a large lot of unprepared Moroccan bugs from the Devonian layers of Jbel Mrakib. He was kind to peel me off four of the easier pieces (mostly phacopids and proetids -- nothing with ridiculously complicated spines). This will be practice for me, and my first Moroccan bugs for preparation. The matrix is much harder than anything from my collecting areas, but the CP can get through it. My first go is not going terribly well, but I'll keep at it. These are all common bugs, so I expect to ruin a few as I learn. The question will be if my tools are up to the job.
And yesterday I completed a drawing I had barely started a week before going to Jamaica.
So, that makes three out of five regular fossil-related activities to kick off 2020: collecting, preparation, and illustration. Hopefully it won't be long until a few new articles come my way so that I can fulfill the research portion as something to make the daily work commute on the bus more tolerable. The fifth activity is to continue some remote prospecting work to identify more potential sites for 2020. So far, I have about five locations, two of which span larger areas that may contain multiple outcrops. There are also a few must-revisit locations, too. Just 87 more days until collecting and in-person prospecting can be added again to the mix.