Friday, April 25, 2014

Fossil Hunting in England's Jurassic - Philosophy, a Buddy, and a Gravestone

Barry found another pub he couldn't pass up - The Three Horseshoes

April 23 - We've slowed down a bit due to rain and wind. I've been studying the local strat column and guide books, and wrestling with philosophy.

How do I feel about collecting fossils? Many we collect will be used in Fremont County schools, at farmers markets and at our CaƱon City Geology Club to reinvigorate our community with the understanding and appreciation for what lies beneath our feet. I asked two geologists at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre about collection of fossils. They agree with the following, taken from a local guide written by Dr. Colin Dawes:

"Is it all right to collect fossils from the beaches around Lyme Regis? The simple answer is that if you don't pick up the loose fossils derived from the shale, then the seas will, crushing them beyond recognition. Some of the best names in fossil hunting live in or near Lyme Regis and they face a constant battle in rescuing specimens that would otherwise be pounded into oblivion. Rest assured that you are doing something of a service by keeping your fossils, especially if they are subsequently shown at a school for the benefit of general education.

The cliffs are a very different story.  They are land and it is understood that anything in them belongs to the owner of that land."

I'm learning a lot apart from geology and fossils.  Barry found a cuttlefish bone (neither fish nor bone) which I find has ammonite and belemnite qualities.  The white porous 'bone' is actually an inner shell that provides buoyancy, and it shoots out ink.  Mary Anning found an ink sack in a belemnite.  She took it to an artist friend who applied water and wrote letters with it.  Fossil ink!

We have a Buddy who knocks at our front door if we aren't up early enough to please him.  He's a demanding ravenous sea gull with what seems a huge wing span when he's flapping about in the garden chasing off other gulls.  He loves day-old bread, but his curved keratinous beak is no match for two-day-old bread crust.  Thanks to Sue Ware and Todd Green's Osteology class at DMNS, I'm now much more aware of bird skeleton structure, and I've enjoyed watching the dexterity he has with his hooked beak, but also the lack of cutting power it provides.  Makes for a great door knocker, though!

We found the Anning family gravesite, with only a slight mention Mary:

"Sacred in the Memory of
Joseph Anning
Who died July the 5th 1849
Aged 53 Years
Also three Children who died in their Infancy
Also of Mary Anning sister of the above
Who died March the 9th 1847
Aged 47 Years"

Barry and I have been disappointed in the amount of fossils we've found on the beaches.  Based on our past travels in the winter to Whitby and this year to both Whitby and the south coast in the spring, I wouldn't recommend a fossil hunting trip to England's Jurassic Coast outside of the winter months.  Winter storms bash the cliffs and replenish fossils on the beach.  It's too calm this time of year, there are too many people like us out and about, and the 'flat' seas cover the beach/fossils with sand.  I prefer the bracing weather and a richer fossil find.

Around the base of the Anning grave, people have placed ammonites in a ring

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