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A Cold December Day in Bangor

...well the Bangor Limestone of the northwest corner of Alabama anyway!

We visited a popular site in the Mississippian rocks of Alabama for our December field trip. It was a good turnout for this perennial favorite location. The site is huge allowing everyone to really spread out and explore the surface rocks for all kinds of marine fossils as well as plenty of loose fossils. It was a gray day and really windy, however, while it was cool, it was not unbearable (well if you stayed out of the wind and were dressed warmly). Given it was so close to Christmas, it allowed our avid fossil hunters a bit of a respite from the Holidays to catch their breath and mentally prepare for the chaos to come.

There is so much material to scan at this site. You have to look everywhere as the fossils can be hiding, like the corral head under the massive boulder above.

The site yields well preserved crinoids, corrals, bryozoans, and occasionally some terrific shark teeth. Some terrific assemblages of fossils can be found in the form of "hash" plates which can sometimes represent an entire fossil collection in one rock. Here are few examples:

From top right to bottom left, these hashplates highlight 1) a nice gastropod, 2) a trilobite genal spine and burrow, 3) multiple encrusting bryozoans, 4) a complex branching bryozoan, 5) parallel archimedes bryozoans, and 6) several crinoids.

There are many types of Mississippian age corrals to be found at the site including multiple species of solitary rugose varieties and colony corrals. In fact, there are whole boulders that are entirely a colony of preserved corral. A number of small specimens were collected, here are a few representatives.

The crinoids from this part of the state are often on collector's most desired list. This location has the potential of producing some of these little treasures especially with some work. Here are a few specimens from this trip.

The next specimen is a straight cephalopod, a nice display piece with the matrix full of other small fossils.

The site also produces a number of trace fossils, the picture below is of the ichnospecies, Conostichus. The creator of the trace has been the subject of multiple theories over the years (to include plant and animal origins). These have included sea anemones, sea urchins, crinoids, shrimp burrows, etc...I don't know where the debate points today, but they are cool examples of an enigmatic trace fossil.

One of the fun things about getting out in the field and looking for fossils is occasionally finding something odd that catches your eye, something that makes you contemplate how in the world did this thing form. For me, the below picture is of one of those items. It is in some an iron-rich stone. If you have an opinion, I would love to hear it, but otherwise just enjoy and ponder...

This will do it for our December field trip! I apologize for the delay in getting this blog posted, but hopefully, it was worth the wait ;^) If you are an APS member, we hope to see you on a future outing or meeting, and if you are not, take a look at the rest of our website and see if becoming a member is of interest to you; we would love to hear from you.

Jim Braswell, APS President

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