Searching for Elusive Dinosuar Fossils in the Eastern U.S.
Here is the largest dinosaur tooth found. It's a 1.25" "Tyrannosaurid" tooth. Most of the Eastern U.S. dinosaurs
are not studied enough or are too fragmentary to determine and exact genus or species.
A short video of the Cretaceous Dinosaur Fossil Hunt
Searching for Elusive Dinosaurs of the East Coast!
Just like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, the Fossil Ski has risen. Disabled on last year's Dinosaur trip, it finally got fixed. I was aching to go on a fossil trip with it.
The group of people from various states that I met up with last year, the "Dino Group" reassembled for yet another try at our little East Coast Dinosaur spot.
East Coast Dinosaurs
If you don't know about dinosaurs of the Eastern U.S., you're not alone. Unlike complete dinosaur fossils of the Western U.S. in wide spanning formations, the Eastern U.S. mainly has very fragmentary dinosaur fossils. These dinosaurs come from tiny outcroppings that pop up from New Jersey down to Alabama. Because of this, the Eastern U.S. dinosaur fauna is often overlooked. Due to the lack of complete fossils and large formations, they have not been studied nearly as much as the dinosaurs in the West.
This time we were really going to red neck it out. No more towing people on tubes to the fossil site, this time Fossil Jenn brought a small boat with her. The boat had no motor, so the simple plan was to load the boat full of people and fossil supplies and then tow it with the Fossil Ski. We would fossil collect for two solid days gathering up as much Dinosaur and Deinosuchus (Supercroc) fossils we could.
Day 1 - A Beautiful Thunder Stormy Day
On the morning of the first day, after driving many hours from many different states, the "Dino Group" converged at the side of the river. We loaded the supply boat connected it to the Fossil Ski and left for the spot. Although it looked terribly redneckish to anyone who caught a glimpse, the Fossil Ski with Fossil boat in tow worked out beautifully! We managed to find the site, unloaded, and immediately began sifting for Cretaceous fossil goodies.
Just like last year, within 5 minutes, Larry from DVPS upset the group and found the best Deinosuchus (Supercroc) fossil of the trip. It was a huge bullet tooth. Trying to preoccupy ourselves, and forget that Larry found a HUGE croc tooth within 5 minutes, we began to have lengthy discussions on how to dump Larry off the boat onto an alligator, and important and topical issues such as big foot and the "Naked and Afraid" show.
Fortunately, after a couple of hours, we started to turn up Dinosaur fossils. Two small and mangled Hadrosaur teeth appeared in a screen. A little while later a nice Tyrannosaurid tooth appeared... then another! After those finds, Larry's Deinosuchus tooth was all but a distant memory.
By late afternoon torrential thunder storms began rolling through. Since it was a lengthy boat ride back to the ramp and the river was prone to flooding, we decided to pack up early and flee between thunder storms. This turned out to be a good decision as it rained and thundered most of the evening and into the night.
Sifting for Cretaceous Dinosaur Fossils
Day 2 - The Flood from the Thunder Storms of Day 1
Waking up bright an early as the rains died down, we all reconvened at the dock and set up the boat caravan. We noticed the currents were much swifter and the river was muddy and full of debris, but we didn't care, Cretaceous fossils were nearby.
Once we launched the Fossil Ski, Amy rode it off to test it and warm it up while we loaded the boat. She disappeared for a while. A few minutes later she returned with a broken down boat in tow. Two fishermen were stranded for over 4 hours until we showed up. It felt good to help a stranded boat, as we were the stranded ones last year!
Anyhow, after launching the boat caravan and boating for an unusually long time, we realized we missed the spot. Circling back, we still couldn't find it. Eventually we realized it was under water! After a while, we landed were the site should have been, tied the boats to trees and explored, looking for any traces fossil gravel to sift. We managed to find some gravel a foot or two under water, but with the strong currents, it was nearly impossible to shovel the material to the surface to sift. Disillusioned, we left the site and scouted for more areas up and down the river. Unfortunately, everything was submerged and it was time to call it a day.
For 2 years now we've have had issues at this site. It's just a very difficult and finicky site to get to and collect at. However, on each trip, we found dinosaur material... rare dinosaurs from the East Coast! So how bad could it really be, issues and all? Also, while down south, we decided to go to Charleston on our way home to celebrate the 4th of July and Dolphin watch with the Fossil Ski. What more could you ask for?
A baby dolphin with her mother and fireworks near the Yorktown at Charleston.
Below are pictures and fossils from the fossil hunt:
Sifting for Cretaceous fossils. This is a nice piece of fossil crocodile coprolite (poop)!
A medium sized Deinosuchus supercroc fossil tooth.
These are the fossils I kept from the trip. As you can see, most of the fossils are Goblin shark and Crow shark teeth.
This is the larger Tyrannosaurid dinosaur tooth that we found. Both cutting edges of this fossil have serrations.
A smaller Theropod Dinosaur tooth fossil, possibly a Dromaeosaurid dinosaur.
These are some of the Deinosuchus rugosus supercroc teeth found.
Partial fang from a Xiphactinus fish. It was a giant 20 foot fanged fish.
Recommended Books East Coast Dinosaurs and Supercrocs:
King of the Crocodylians: The Paleobiology of Deinosuchus
by David R. Schwimmer, 2002
This is a grat book (and the only) about the Paleontology and Biology of Deinosuchus, one of the worlds largest crocodiles.
It is very in depth and reads like a narrative. This book gives insights into the ecosystems of the Atlantic Coastal plain during the late Creataceous.