The Great Trilobite hunt of 2011 ... errr... The Great 2nd Trilobite Hunt of 2011.
The night air was cool and crisp, quite contrary to the day. The darkness was deep, as civilization was far beyond the horizon. The silence was deafening, save for an occasional “rattle” from
a nearby dead rattlesnake.
Armed with UV lights, two small groups slowly crept through the desert. “There’s one!” shouted someone from one of the groups. Evading the prickly flora, the two groups quickly came together
encircling a neon green scorpion. “Look, he’s in his attack position.” After marveling for a few minutes, the two groups separated, looking for more critters. Eventually, when everyone had
their fill of scorpions, they returned to the campfire. Leisurely, as the night went on, one by one, people retired to their tents and campers that were haphazardly scattered around the “base camp.”
After Amy and I had downed a bottle of wine around the fire, and finished marveling at Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” we too returned to our tent, planning the next day’s events. Tomorrow would
be a busy day of digging, as this was the 2nd annual Trilobite Jam, and we were camping in the House Range of Utah, a world famous trilobite locality.
The American Trilobite Suppliers generously host a 4 day “Trilobite Jam” at one of their properties in Utah. Their property in the House Range contains
the Wheeler and Marjum formation. They have
numerous small quarries dotting the property exposing the two Cambrian formations.
The Wheeler and Marjum formations at the House Range are world renowned. The Wheeler shale supplies the world with their Elrathia kingii trilobites, probably the most well known trilobite on earth. Other
trilobites include Asaphiscus wheeleri, small agnostid trilobites such as Peronopsis, and the rare Olenoides nevadensis with cool axial spines. Besides trilobites, there is an echinoderm called a Gogia spiralis
that looks like a water hydra with little plates all over it. On the American Trilobite Suppliers property, the wheeler shale produces bugs that range in colors from black and orange, to a beautiful red!
The Marjum formation has some rare, beautiful, and large trilobite fossils! These include Modocia sp., Bathyuriscus fimbriatus, the 5” Hemirhodon amplipyge, and the prized 6” Olenoides superbus with its incredible
Each day, we picked a couple different quarries to collect at. We picked one for in the morning, took a short rest, food, and water break in the extreme heat of the day, then headed to one or two more in the
late afternoon. Then in the evening we headed to a spring a few miles away to wash up.
Since this was our first time in this type of fossil shale, we mainly stayed in quarries that had the more common trilobites. As novices here, we were unable to tell which specimens would be complete when prepped. We
learned later that we carried way more back to the camp than what actually turned out to be great specimens. We ended up brining home two boxes of specimens. Most of them turned out to be cheekless, headless,
or crushed. However, we still ended up with eight complete ones (minus the dozen or so agnostids and some tiny Elrathia). The best one is a beautiful complete ~3" carmel colored Asaphiscus wheeleri
The event was run very well and the site couldn’t have been better. Jason, Jake, and the rest of the crew did a wonderful job hosting the jam. They were all incredibly friendly and helped out in any way possible!
I hope to return to another Jam sometime in the near future!
Below are tons of photos and a sample of some of the trilobites and other fossils from the Utah trip.
Where to find similar Trilobites: To try and find your own trilobites, I would suggest going to the
U-Dig quarry, or
A New Dig INC. near Delta utah.