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Tall Grass, Hot Rocks, and Paleozoic Trackways

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

The APS made a trip out to our backyard in August 2022 to hunt trackways, plants and marine fossils from a world class site. This time of year poses a few challenges - first vegetation can get out of control if there has been adequate rain and second it can be really HOT! Both were true this visit, however unlike many years the sky was bright blue instead of the hazy white that is often the case. The sun was blazing in this clear air and by noon the exposed rocks were so hot you needed gloves to pick them up. All this did not discourage about 15-20 members from showing up to search through the rocks for signs of ancient life, approximately 310 million year old. There were a lot of great finds so lets get started with the pictures...

First up are some plants represented with a nice calamites stem and a seed fern pollen organ and a seed pod.

There were also quite a few invertebrate trackways and traces to include horseshoe crab (kouphichnium) and insect trackways.

A fish swimming trace (undichna) along with some other invertebrate burrows. Note the sinusoidal or wave patterns near the top of the slab below. These are created as the fish fins scrape across the mud.

There were a significant number of vertebrate (amphibian/reptile) trackways found as well.

Finally, a few trips back APS member Carl found what is the smallest trackway ever found from the site. Miraculously Prescott found the other half of the slab. See if you can see this trackway!

I find it miraculous that either Carl or Prescott could even see these tracks but even more ridiculous is that independently they found the same trackway (impression and counter impression) amongst the piles of rocks!

by Jim Braswell

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