Updated: Mar 11
March 6, 2021, Ohhhhh what a day! Saturday was a beautiful blue, cloudless day in Alabama for a fossil hunt on a Carboniferous Period site known for its plant and marine fossils. So buckle your seat belts this blog post is picture heavy with so many nice finds! The picture featured above is one of many fossilized trunks of a Lycopod found on the premises that were so big and heavy no one could take them home, so Josh had to settle with a photograph.
This was the first visit for the Alabama Paleontological Society so most of the folks didn't know what to expect. After Ashley gave the talk, papers were signed and off goes the caravan. The morning started off with a bit of nip in the air with a lot of us layered up but as the day wore on it got a lil' warmer and the shedding of those layers of clothing took place on site. The wind was blustery on the higher elevations but not enough to be an extreme bother. It was a huge area and as soon as everyone arrived they got their gear situated and all split in different directions practicing ultimate social distancing but there was an occasional gathering of folks to compare notes and see what was found on site throughout the day.
There were fossils everywhere as shown in photo above with hammer! No one walked away without finding some type of fossil, and from my understanding everyone left with some really cool finds!
Here area two interesting Calamites found by Ann and Amber. These are unusual finds. Ann's Calamite sample has these huge nodes that separate the horizontal sections of the plant, and Amber's find are overlapping 3D Calamite casts! This is a rarity because most 3D Calamites are found separately.
The grounds were littered with 3D Stigmaria (roots) of a Lycopod and Calamite casts. First and second picture is a Stigmaria found by Chase, and a Calamite Cast from Glen. 3rd and 4th picture is Lyle's Calamite cast find and Jim's collection of Calamite casts as well as an Artisia Horizontalis pith cast at the bottom of his picture from a Cordaites tree. I saw a lot of the fossilized Cordaites tree strap-like leaves but the shale slabs were all broken into pieces and didn't find one that was intact. The last three pictures are Josh's, Prescott's, Ashley's Calamite and Stigmaria cast finds. Just about everyone walked away with several 3D casts to add to their collections.
I'd never seen so much Sigillaria (Lycopod) in one area! Some of it was very fragile because it was exposed to the elements for long periods of time making it difficult to collect. It was frustrating when one came across a really nice piece of Sigillaria or any other fossil for that matter that had been exposed to the elements and it disintegrates in your hands!
There were a number of fern fossils found, some really nice pieces. In the first picture Ann found a shale slab with disarticulated fern pinnues scattered all about and a really nicely detailed Nueropteris fern frond in the upper right-hand corner of her picture. Ricky's finds in pictures 2,4,& 5 are Mariopteris, Lyginopteris and Eusphenopteris. Chase found a really nice Mariopters fern frond.
I found a rock pile that contained marine fossils like Bi-valves, Nautiloid piece and a possible Cephalopod? Many others encountered marine fossils on the site including Jim's Brachiopod find.
There were several trace fossils found as well. Jim's Arborichnus resting traces and Michael's trace fossils that have yet to be identified?
I can't leave out the Lepidodendron, known as the scale tree. The site was littered with this well know Lycopod fossil. Impressions were found as well as 3D casts. Amber found a large cast that is nicely detailed, Michael found an impression, and Ricky found the smaller pieces.
Last but not least, there were many interesting finds throughout the day. Jim's find is interesting (first pic) and the jury is still out on this one...it definitely is a plant but what? I suggested that it may be part of a Lepidodendron that may be attached to the leaf scars of that scale tree? Ricky's find is a Lepidostrobus (cone). The leaflets are usually found independent of the cone, and they are called Lepidostrobophyllum. Amber's find in the last picture a Stigmaria (root of a Lycopod). It's a partial 3D locked in matrix. The interesting thing about this fossil is that it shows the rootlets protruding from the cast which are never found independent of the other.
Just a few other finds from Glen, Josh, Prescott and Ricky. Everyone had a blast...toward the end of the day with sore limbs and bodies we got to go home with some really cool specimens, and look forward to going back to this site in the near future.