Potomac River Fossil Hunting Trip - Fossil Shark Teeth Hunt - A Paleocarcharodon! - Marlyand

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Go to Potomac River Page

Fossils that can be found along the Paleocene Cliffs of the Potomac River

Printable Identification Fossil Sheets for Vertebrates and Invertebrates of the Paleocene Potomac River

Mallows Bay Ghost Fleet. This is not a fossil site, but a nearby kayaking/paddling site. This bay contains one of the largest ship ghost fleets.

Nearby Shark Tooth Collecting Location:
Calvert Cliffs, MD

Fossil Shark Gallery

Parts of Sharks that Fossilize

Shark Evolution

Potomac River

Yippee! a Paleocarcharodon Shark Tooth

September 2008

Fossil display at the Nanjemoy Heritage day
This was our setup for the Nanjemoy Heritage Day. Paul and Amy leisurely await the start of the event.

Yippee! a Paleocarcharodon

Many months ago I received an email from someone in Nanjemoy, MD about setting up a display at the 2008 Nanjemoy Heritage Day to show Charles County's rich fossil bounty. The date was Sept. 20th. As the months flew by, and the date quickly approached, I decided to rope Paul into helping out at this event. I have no idea why he did so, but his help was greatly appreciated. We set up 3 tables full of fossils and had a kiddy pool filled with Pungo River sediment from the PCS Phosphate mine in Auroa, NC for the kids (and some adults) to search through.

The event was nice. There was a parade, clowns, horses, Indians, a live band, and many booths and vendors. The event went flew by while we watched countless kids turn into enthusiastic paleontologists as they discovered prehistoric beasts in the kiddy pool. If only one could hold onto that passion.

The only glitch to the event was the lack of an ATM machine. In a society becoming more and more cashless, I tend to not carry much of the green stuff. Unfortunately, the event was cash only and the nearest ATM machine was nearly an hour round trip drive away. Knowing we had to eat, I scrounged up a whopping $10.00 and figured we could purchase a small snack to hold us over. To my surprise, $10.00 allowed me to buy 4 cheeseburgers, 2 sodas, 1 water, 1 piece of carrot cake, and 1 brownie! We feasted like kings on $10.00! It felt as if 10 years of inflation was taken off the dollar!

Anyhow, here's the fossil part... This event just so happened to be a short drive from a nice Potomac River fossil site. At sunrise before the event, we met along the Potomac for a fossil hunt.

Unfortunately, the water level was VERY high. Waves were washing against the cliffs. There were only small patches of beach exposed to collect on. After a few hours of fossil collecting, we found less than 10 fossils between the three of us. The day would have been a wash; however, the very first tooth I picked up happened to be a Paleocarcharodon orientalis fossil shark tooth. A very rare "Pygmy White Shark" from the Paleocene. These oddities are only found in a few places on earth and are the reason why many collectors hunt this area.

On our way out, we happened to run into Kevin, a collecting acquaintance. He decided to wait it out for the water level to lower. He emailed me pics of his finds afterward. When I saw some nice Otodus fossil tooth he found, I knew his waiting it out strategy paid off!

kids digging in the kiddie pool of fossil shark teeth
Kids become paleontologists as they dig through Pungo River sediment from Aurora.

searching for fossils along the potoamac river
Here, Paul and Amy search along the Potomac cliffs.

seaweed and algae covers most of the fossil shark teeth during this time of year along the potomac river
Unfortunately, the seaweed was in full bloom and washing ashore. This makes for a stinky mess.

Fossils Found

fossil paleocarcharodon shark tooth from the Potomac Aquia formation
Here are the finds. Nothing notable except for the Paleocarcharodon orientalis.

paleocarcharodon fossil shark tooth from the Potomac Aquia formation
This is the Paleocarcharodon orientalis, or Pygmy White Shark. The serrations are very worn, and the cusps are probably worn off.