Recently returned from the biannual quarry trip in Bowmanville, Ontario. Overall, I didn’t do too badly, but I also didn’t come away with the great spoils one dreams of finding either. Traditionally, the trips take place in May and October, but a change in management shifted the spring visit schedule, and so early June was our date. The new quarry manager is fantastic and shows a keen interest in what we get up to. Just as long as everyone abides by safety protocols, we will continue to benefit from this incredible arrangement.
Here is our wrecking crew:
Someone in our crew made one of the most significant finds at this quarry. Sadly, that someone wasn’t me! But do have a look at this phenomenal mass mortality slab of 20+ Ceraurus — zoom in and count them. This is going to look amazing once it is fully prepared.
Another of our crew found this massive, eye-watering nautiloid:
My own finds were fairly modest. As the quarry was operating, we had some restrictions on where we could go, and so much of the day was spent on level 4. There are six levels in this vast quarry. The rock in the bottom five is Cobourg/Lindsay and Verulam Formations, and pretty hard. Isotelus bits dominate, while full specimens are a bit harder to find. There are over 20 species of trilobite in the Hillier Member, but most of them are rare. The more common trilobites are Isotelus “mafritzae”, Flexicalymene croneisi, Ceraurus sp.
My trip-maker was this Flexicalymene croneisi. As they more commonly come out as rollers, finding a prone example is certainly good luck. This was in a block the size of a small car. I chiseled out the layer, but the rock was still a good 150 pounds and I am grateful to one of our collectors for taking the time to saw it down for me.
Isotelus pieces could sometimes be quite large. Here is a busted pygidium with my one inch chisel end to indicate scale. A complete specimen of one of these would be a museum piece, for sure.
Other partials of note. I keep these for trades:
Isotelus juveniles. The one may or may not be complete in the rock, and the other is nicely inflated although missing some shell from blast or weathering damage. The latter was found just sitting in a bit of mud.
Plenty of gastropod steinkerns to be found, too:
Didn't come away with any complete Ceraurus, but I held on to these partials:
Not quite sure about this one yet. It might be a Bumastus, but it will need to get some treatment in my lab to be sure.
Even if I had gone away without finding anything, I still would not have left empty-handed. A trade with a good collecting friend of mine means I’ll have some fun preps in my future. First up is a pair of Flexicalymene senaria prones from Brechin, Ontario:
A buried Ceraurus from Brechin. The right pygidial spine may or may not be there:
A complete and enrolled Calyptaulax, also from Brechin.
Two prone Gravicalymene from the Montreal area. A new species for me.
No prep required on this one -- positive and negative impression of Aulacopleura konincki from the Czech Republic.
Overall, not my greatest outing, but also not a skunked one either. It is a lot about luck here, and dividing the time trying to cover a lot of ground searching the blast piles and splitting. Scrambling over those piles is not easy as you want to ensure good footing — not always easy on very irregular surfaces, some of which can be a bit treacherous. It’s not the easiest material to work with, but rarely is anything good easy — it is likely the first rule of advanced fossil collecting and preparation!
I'm chomping at the bit to get to preparation of some of these finds, but it will have to wait until I'm done my current task on a large placoderm bone/trunk shield.
Today I received a few packages in the mail, including one Czech trilobite and five Russian ones.
Here, four asaphids and a corynexochid are gathered around a trio of ptychoparids. A reflective moment for these Ordovician trilobites with the much older Cambrian trio in the centre.
This is Ellipsocephalus hoffi from Jince in the Czech Republic, Cambrian in age. This is a nice assemblage. These are what are known as blind trilobites as, well, they have no eyes!
Illaenus sp. (?oblongata), a Russian corynexochid from the Ordovician.
Readers of this blog might recall when I was preparing an Asaphus lepidurus not long ago. This is what a full, professionally prepped one looks like.
Here is the same specimen on its ventral side, showing off a very nice hypostome!
This is definitely "wide-load" - Asaphus latus. Almost as wide as it is long.
The aptly named Delphasaphus delphinus fully prone and looking a bit like a dolphin... if a dolphin were a segmented arthropod from over 400 million years ago.
This is the biggest of today's acquisitions at over 76 mm: Asaphus holmi. Below is the ventral side showing its hypostome:
Starting off the week with a bang, I had no fewer than three packages waiting for me when I got home. Two were purchases, and one was a gift from a dear Fossil Forum friend from the Netherlands.
First up, a "gold bug":
This phacopid is Metacanthina barrandei from the Couche Rouge, Maeder Region of Morocco. The trilobites in this layer are entirely replaced by chalcopyrite. In this case it is likely that the trilobite during preparation was painted or polished/buffed to appear in this fashion. It has two interesting features that distinguish this species: a tiny "spathe" at the end of the glabella (looks like it is sticking out its tongue) and a distinct occipital spike just below the cephalon. This one is not tiny, either, at about 90 mm tip to tip.
Similar to the trilobite I featured first last week, this is of the same genus. I welcome Gerastos ainrasifus to my collection. Just like the other proetid, it is fairly small at around 30 mm.
And now for the splendid gifts from my friend Pat overseas. This first is the classic, glabella-bulging Moroccan phacopid, Reedops sp. Some fabulous eye detail, yes, but that "shnozz" is something else!
This one is a bit tough to make out until I hook up the digital scope, but this barely 5 mm wide cephalon belongs to the very rare Diacanthaspis (Acanthalomina) minuta, a Silurian Odontopleurid (my first!) from Lodenice, Czech Republic. It has the tuberculate cephalic markings somewhat similar to various species of Ceraurus, but is more closely related to various Lichid trilobites.
And another lovely gift: the Ordovician asaphid Ogyiocaris dilatata. This was collected from the Oslo fjord area in Norway and are considered very rare.
And this one, well, this Belgian trilobite has yet to be formally described! It comes from the Hotton area, Ardennes, Belgium. I am guessing a phacopid of some kind, and it looks like I might give some matrix removal a try to see if I can find more of it in there.
And apart from these lovely trilo-gifts, I also received a cool Roman coin from the reign of Constantine II (337-340 AD), and shrapnel from the battlefield of the very famous - and one of the bloodiest - Battle of the Somme, which took place between the British (+Canada!) and the French against the Germans, July to November 1916. These are two pieces of non-trilobite history I very much cherish. It's been a fantastic day indeed!