Sunday, May 5, 2013

Day 8 of 8: The last day - already?!!?

It was hard to believe, at this point, that this trip was nearly over.  And while most of the time we had been looking for small marine invertebrates, we still noticed this large ... vertebrate?

The route we took passed through New Mexico's north eastern corner.  On that route were two more points of interest. 
Shelter is across the lake, to the right of center

The first was Clayton Lake State Park Dinosaur Tracks.  The park is a few miles north of Highway 87, then there's a nice stretch-your-legs walk to the site along a path and across the dam. 

In picture to the right, you can see the site's shelter across the lake.  To the left of the shelter is the exposed track site.

The interpretive signs were well-composed and helped to find some interesting ttacks, yielding interesting scenarios, such as a dinosaur's hesitation and a rippled, mud-cracked trackway.

It would be best to visit this site when the sun's angle casts more shadows, earlier or later in the day so the tracks are more visible.  At the time of our visit the sun was too high and bright.  Yet, since a boardwalk allowed you to see tracks from all sides, there was plenty to see.

 The second stop in New Mexico was Capulin Volcano National Monument.  I learned about cinder cone volcanos, and this was a perfect example of it.  There is a road that spirals around the cone to the top.  At the top, you have wonderfully panoramic views of the Raton-Clayton volcanic field, Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance, and portions of four states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado).

Capulin Volcano

View from the top of Capulin Volcano

Thus ends the 2013 WIPS Texas trip.  I'm hoping to collect photos from participants of the fossils they found.  If I can, and they've been identified, I'll try to get them posted here.  If not, well, look for the next trip story!

Day 7 of 8: Two more Fossil-Hunting stops

We awoke in Mineral Wells with plans for another site near to the town.  While many of our group parted for other adventures, we still had 4 cars' worth of people.  North of town is a road cut in late Pennsylvanian strata.  There we sought and found calyxes of a type of stemless, free-floating crinoid.  Then we started finding all sorts of other types of marine fossils such as gastropods, horn corals, and clams.  (After the trip I've learned that Dennis compared finds from this location to those of the Mineral Wells Fossil Park and there was no overlap of species!)

While we were on hands and knees early this Friday morning, a local drove up and said she was off to her yoga class but if we were still going to be there in a couple of hours, she'd take us up on her property, the fence of which was up the slope over our heads.  We could not go without her as her dogs would not be happy.  She is Lucy, a Natural Dog Trainer.

We thanked her saying that we'd probably not be there that much longer and she left, presumably to attend her class.  It wasn't very long until Lucy returned saying she'd go to a later class so come on up because there should be lots more fossils on her property.  It was a lovely day and we scrambled up the slope, over a fence, and across to a gully. 

Lucy's pointing towards that gully

Down the gully we clambered.  There we found many pebbles, some pretty flowers, a shaly outcrop with some oysters and a few nautiloids.  It wasn't quite as rich as hoped but, Lucy explained, it hadn't rained in a while - usually there were lots more.

After this stop, another car's participants had other plans, so three headed west and north.  We had one more fossil-hunting potential for this trip, at an outcrop of lower Cretaceous strata.  This locality was a few miles north of a community called Fluvanna. 

There were plenty of echinoids - I've been calling them heart urchins but they might be of the Macraster genus.  There were some gastropods and ostrea.  The coolest finds, by the Langstons, are probably Salenia mexicana!

When we finally decided we'd made a complete pass over the outcrop, we headed on to stay the night in Amarillo.