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Cretaceous Vertebrates Once Again Rule the Day

On 12 November the APS was invited by the Alabama Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to visit an incredible fossil location in the Mooreville Chalk of Alabama. This late Cretaceous site represents a marine environment of about 80-85 million years ago. The diverse fauna includes many types of invertebrate and vertebrate fossils. The day was blustery and cold for early November in southern Alabama with a little rain in the area that morning. This did not "dampen" the mood or impact the fossil hunting, which was OUTSTANDING!!!

Prior to searching for the fossils the AMNH Curator for Paleontology provided us a contextual description of the site and the environment it represented. Our anxious group took in the description and the incredible views of the the "mini-badlands" in front of them.

Before I get started with the pictures, the day was summed up well by this quote: "What a day it was with a number of significant finds! In fact, I have never seen so many great finds in a day in my time here in AL thanks to your keen eyes. Among the rare finds were, for example, a decapod crustacean claw, associated fish vertebrae, a skull of an Enchodus predatory fish, an as of yet enigmatic vertebra, and parts of a mosasaur jaw and associated vertebrae." - AMNH Curator of Paleontology

The following set of pictures are of the referenced enchodus (predatory fish) skull excavation. This specimen was successfully pedestalled and removed by the end of the day.

The next group are of the mosasaur elements that were discovered including three associated vertebra and jaw with teeth. The layer the bones were in was identified for future excavation of the site.

Quite a few shark teeth and even a few shark vertebrae were found. Below are some examples from the day.

See if you can spot the "two" fish vertebra in this picture!

The following are some of the APS members collections for the day. The finds included bivalves, worm tubes, shark teeth, fish teeth (e.g. enchodus), mosasaur teeth, and an array of coprolites!

Everyone had an amazing day. It was very hard to not stop from time to time and just enjoy the surroundings.

As usual there were a few stragglers that seemed to not be able to leave. Hopefully we will see other members on future field trips!

By Jim Braswell

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