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Amsterdam, New York

Just south of Amsterdam at the rest area on I-90 eastbound, there is a fair variety of mineral and fossil “reference” specimens.¬† By “reference” I just mean that what you find here probably won’t make your show cabinet, but there are really cool examples of ordovician (444-488 mya) marine life¬† with surprising detail.

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To the left is part of a trilobite while next to it on the right lies two arms of a sea star. Pic taken through 5x magnifying lens.

Above, a trilobite and a sea star were hanging out, some things happened that nobody wanted, then some mud covered them, none of their friends could find them, and almost half a billion years later they show themselves again.  At least they missed the awful hair bands of the 1980’s…the 1880’s…the 1780’s…well, all of the 80’s I guess.

There are lots of bits of trilobites, sea stars’ arms, crinoid columnal segments, shell pieces of all kinds, corals, red calcite, grey dolomite, and a little quartz that you can find with pretty high rates of success for most of these.  All of this material is in the bank toward the exit and none of it is in the slate, which is surprising because there’s a ton of material in slate about 20-30 miles down the road in Herkimer county.

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Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada

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As this was my first time going to Nova Scotia where almost nothing went wrong (lost balance and bumped head…inside the cab of the truck…), I actually had a few minutes to walk around the industrial park on Bluewater Road and see what’s going on.  This area is commercial and therefore private property, so ask if you feel the need to search here.  Fortunately, this rock formation is all over the area, so you can look most anywhere else here and probably find what I did.

First, much of the bedrock here is a hard kind of metamorphic slate that’s suffered from some heat and pressure.  There are also granites and other high silica content amalgamations to look through.  Anywise, I found what I expected…unfortunately, it wasn’t there…It’ll make sense after the pic.

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This is what the matrix rock looks like when a beautifully formed pyrite cube decides to jump ship.  It was likely a 3-5 cm specimen that didn’t want to move to the US.  It’d probably just get deported anyway…

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Here's an unexciting, albeit very coppery, chalcopyrite. This is further evidence that a more in depth search in this area should prove worthwhile.

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Here's a 10x view of tiny epidote crystals.

I found this in some gravel.  It’s a small pocket of epidote crystals.  Someday, I’m hoping to find epidote crystals to several cm’s in length. Since these 2-3 mm fellas are twice as large as the last epidote crystals I found (in Arizona), I figure I’m moving in the right direction.

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Genoa, Ohio

Another entry on the importance of looking down periodically…

At the last eastbound rest area on I-80 just before reaching Toledo, the decorative, mid-sized pebbles along the building and surrounding sidewalks are littered with limestones and sandstones containing marine fossils.  Bivalves and corals are mostly what you will find here as well as some tiny specks of pyrite here and there.

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I think this outline of a brachiopod, as if it's drawn onto the matrix, is pretty cool.

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Not that any of these finds are scientifically significant directly, but I do believe that as we map out our finds we do our parts in putting together a more complete picture of prehistory.  True, these finds from rest areas and the like are allochthonous, so to speak, and are so for human and not natural reasons, and are not exactly scientifically valid for that reason.  However, none of these locations pull there “rock-scaping” from very far away and so can contribute to a general view of the past’s “bio-scape”.

So look down occasionally.  I promise you that you will start finding cool things…or bump your head because you’re not looking forward…

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De Witt, Iowa

This is a short post today mostly just reminding you to look down once in awhile.  While at a gas station in De Witt, IA, I noticed I had parked on a limestone/sandstone gravel.  Anywhere you see rock like this in the midwest, there is an excellent chance of finding something (either fossil or calcites).

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This fossil is cool because we get to see the impressions left by both the columnal segments and the axial canal, which is the long "tube" in the middle of the columnal.

I’ve seen this same carboniferous-aged material all over Iowa and Illinois and similar material all the way down to Oklahoma.

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Martin County, Florida

I was fortunate enough to return to Florida again the other day and was able to hang out with Sam Wolfe (photographer mentioned in last FL post).  This time we visited the House of Refuge, where we identified an old fossilized coral reef, and to the Bathtub Reef, where we snorkled and checked out lots of things that weren’t fossilized…yet.

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Here's a fairly close shot to some petrified coral reef, which is part coral, part sandstone/limestone/shell mix.

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There's quite a bit of it...BTW, these two petrified reef photos are courtesy of S. Wolfe.

While snorkling at the Bathtub Reef, we were fortunate enough to see a nurse shark, two sea turtles, three eels, countless fish, a lobster that looked like it just molted, sea urchins (many which were purple and contrasted nicely with the orange-colored sponges they lived in and were probably eating), and Sam again saw a manatee that I again missed…That’s what he said anyway…  Also, I found a beautiful cowry shell (also spelled cowrie), which by technical definition is a fossil, eventhough I date it to no more than 1 month old from the time of its owner’s extinction.  It is a gastropod (snail) from the cypraeidae family, it’s a juvenile since it still has its spiral at the top and its aperture has not yet started curving inward.  I’ve not been able to identify its species yet as the only picture similar to it that I’ve found definitely labels it as something it isn’t. 

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This juvenile cowry measures 10.5 x 6.0 cm. Many cowries do not ever reach this size, so he was on his way to being a big fella.

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A view of the spiral

UPDATE: The cowry is the Atlantic Deer Cowry or Cypraea Cervus.

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Montreal, Province Quebec, Canada

This is possibly my last opportunity to collect at this location (due to a building that’s been constructed in what was not long ago an empty lot).  It’s not yet been paved or grassed over, so I figured I’d see what the construction churned up. This is the lot on the corner of Dollard-Desjardin off Henri-Bourassa next to Lamiver Glass.  In front and to the right side of the building (if you’re facing the front of it), there are lots of tiny marine fossils no less than 425,000,000 years old, with many of these fellows having been amazingly preserved.  The detail, if you have a magnifying lense of some sort to actually be able to see it, is astonishing.

While collecting is still possible, you can find crinoid columnals, occasional brachiopods and pelecypods, rarely conularia, and other things I’ve not yet identified.

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Here’s a strongly ribbed brachiopod, probably a species of zygospira. Approximately 0.5cm wide.

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A view of the entire conularia impression.  At about 3cm, this possible worm-like creature is the largest fossil I’ve found in Montreal.

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Using my Galaxy S4’s camera zoomed in to 4x and a pair of 5x magnification lenses, I was fortunately able to get a half-decent shot of the unbelievable detail that’s survived hundreds of millions of years of an animal we know almost nothing about.  Brilliant.

Where to next?

Fort Pierce, Florida

Stopped in Vero Beach on my way down to Pompano Beach to deliver some very large glass.  I was fortunate enough to be able to join up with my bro-in-law, who happens to be an excellent photographer (Time, covers of multiple national papers–that kind of excellent) and knows the area quite well.

There was one sea cow spotted(…though not by me), lots of pelicans, catfish, needlefish, tourists, tiki bars, crabs, surfers, a coconut, the international space station, and of course…marine fossils by the thousands.  Clams, mussells and the like in sandstone/limestone used as riff raff to keep the “piers” from eroding so quickly.  (The pier is basically rubble cemented together.  It’s an ecosystem all by itself and is pretty cool to check out.)

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Just a small sample of the riff raff– innumerable, post cretacious material.

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The coconut.

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The little white dot is what we were able to see of the ISS (International Space Station) as it raced across the clear, night sky.

P.S. If you’d like to see some quality photography, look up “Sam Wolfe photography” or “Subsea Images”.  Do it.

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