I'm abandoning the inconvenient and awkward episodic approach to detailing fossil adventures by going blog-style. I have no plans to migrate previous (and interesting, I assure you!) content to the blog, but you can access the whole list here. Three years worth of finds.
Since last year, I was able to take advantage of the El Nino temporary thaw to visit Arkona in January, revisited in late April (as well as my favourite pit near my house), and once again for a good three-hour stint in the south pit (here and here). Deb and I have much more focused on the north pit end, navigating the more treacherous terrain of fallen trees and slippery clay along the roaring river, and finding a gallimaufry of Greenops boothi trilobites in the fallen Widder shales. My recent visit was a poring over the exposed Arkona Formation and the overlying Hungry Hollow.
Here are just a few of my finds from the May 15 outing. Deb and I will be making a trip to Ottawa next week, and I hope to reconnect with my old Billings Formation friends from childhood, so fingers crossed to add a few pseudogygites to my collection. I'm playing catch-up, so some of these photos will include a few London finds.
Widder shale is VERY brittle, and so full specimens of the trilobite Greenops widderensis is a rare delight. Unfortunately, bedding planes are not so cooperative, and so parts of the trilobite got "stuck" in the impression to the left.
Like I said, full specimens of old Greenops are hard to come by. Pictured here is a smorgasbord of mostly tail pieces (pygidium) and a few thoraxes. What I love about this species is the saw-tooth butts. These were definitely a defensive adaptation to increasing predation, alongside their tough chitin carapaces and ability to roll up into a ball like their cousins Eldredgeops.
Just some interesting pieces: brachiopods and a gastropod. A closeup of the specimen on the far left appears below:
This is the underside. Pardon my fingers.
Spirifers (brachiopods). I must have buckets of these now. I should start selling them. Want to buy a fossilized shell from 350 million years ago? I got you covered.
Closeup of some Greenops widdernesis fragments. Note how mineralization conditions may differ to give them a different coloured "patina." This is like a Paleozoic Benetton ad.
This was at Boler. A clam, but a fairly large one compared to many of the specimens of its kind. As you can see, I have yet to graduate to a bona fide geological hammer.
On my recent trip to Arkona, south pit, I just can't help picking up crinoid bits. Here you can note their diversity.
Here is an assortment of cephalopods (bactrites) I plucked from the Arkona Formation. In the sunlight, their brassiness shines.
An assortment of shells.
Miscellanea. We have bryozoans, two button corals (Microcyclus), platyceras, and what I suspect on the far right top row to be a placoderm plate. On the bottom row a lot of fragments of the trilobite Eldredgeops rana.
Below: Ok, it's been a few years of ridiculously long hours in search of another Eldredgeops intact roller. I mean, a lot of people pick the place over. And it is not like I don't know what strata to target, or that I lack the eyesight or discernment (I've been known to pick out a single pleura from a distance of almost a yard, such is my hawk-eye ability for finding trilobites). After three hours, I was just about to give up. With five minutes until I would get picked up, I decided to just take a desultory and defeated look at some tiny outcrop of fragments. I figured it would be like the rest of the day ("coral, coral, coral, coral, crinoid stem, coral, coral, coral, brachiopod, coral, coral, coral x 1,000"). Up this point, I was only pulling out tiny fragments, mostly embedded in the wildly bioclastic Hungry Hollow rocks. I skipped the paper shales with their Leiorhynchus ad nauseam, ignored the sparsely fossiliferous parts of the HH Fm that never weather out and jut out like prows, knew better than to go digging in the Arkona FM slick grey clay, and turned my nose up at the dull (to me) bioturbated stones with all their worm burrows. Otherwise it was rugose coral everywhere. I really wish I could temporarily "delete" those coral to get a better view of other fauna. Anyway, just like when I found my first roller back in 2013 just minutes before I left, so I found this twisted fellow. The funny thing about trilo-hunting is that it seems an odd phenomenon that so many of us make our best finds either at the beginning or end of the trip. Anyway, here are some different angle shots to show how twisted this Eldredgeops is. It is *almost* complete (just missing the right bit of cephalon/eye and a tiny bit of the pustular glabella).