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Fossi Hunting Along the Potomac and Calvert Cliffs

Potoamc River Cliffs

These are the Paleocene cliffs along the Potomac. Although hydrilla saturated the water, the beach was relatively aquatic-plant free, making fossil collecting easy.

The Potoamc River and Clavert Cliffs Trip Report

As summer was winding to an end, the bay was beckoning me for one more trip. One more time to aimlessly wonder secluded beaches, one more chance to bask in the lazy sun, and of course, one final indulgence of seafood!

Thursday and Friday were to be spent fossil hunting with Paleoscan. We would spend Thursday on the Potomac, hitting numerous cliff exposures in search of productive areas. Friday would be spent cliff hopping along productive Miocene exposures. On Saturday, I would part with paleoscan and help lead a fossil-collecting trip to the bay for the Mid-Atlantic Fossil and Nature Adventures. Finally, Saturday night would be one last stay at Paleoscans beach house before I headed for home on Sunday.

Except for Thursday, the plans flowed smoothly. Friday was nice, we boated to some nice Miocene spots with no problem, Saturday was also a nice day, lots of people found stuff, including about 3 nice makos, angel shark teeth, and some cow shark teeth. The only problem we ran into was on Thursday…

On Thursday morning we decided to hit the transitional tooth spot. We didn’t do too well. No one found a transitional. After that we headed to a different boat ramp in order to try some Paleocene exposures. These exposures were up the Potomac quite a bit, where the water is much less salty. The lack of salt water allows aquatic plants to thrive, including the menacing hydrilla; this long tentacle like plant hides just under the surface. Like an iceberg it is difficult to see on the surface, only a slight disturbance on the water can be detected. However, just underneath hides feet of this rope-like substance just waiting to wind around a boat prop, or get sucked into an intake.

On this day, the hydrilla had decided to get sucked into my jet ski intake. Not noticing the stuff, I led the jet ski deep into hydrilla territory. It surrounded us by 100 yards in every direction. After noticing the hydrilla, I panicked and let off the throttle, as soon as the jet ski stopped hydroplaning, it sunk into the tentacles and became completely clogged. The engine soon shut down. With very little options available, I decided to hop off and swim it ashore. The hydrilla soon wrapped around my legs, gripping me tightly. It felt like Cerberus, the guardian of the river Styx in Greek mythology, had wrapped its tail around me. As Paleoscan and I slowly floundered to the banks, we realized, just like the river Styx, that once we crossed we would not be able to return.

With our water logged souls stranded on the shores of the river Styx we decided to make the best of the situation. We abandoned the unusable jet ski and hiked to some fossil exposures all the way trying to figure out how to get home across the wide river. On the way back, after hopping over dozens of fallen trees, I got an idea. We would use some fallen trees as paddles. We would become Charon, the boatman of the river Styx. Grabbing roughly 8-foot tree sections, Paleoscan and I headed back to the jet ski and began our long paddle home, fighting darkness all the way. Our waterlogged souls defied Hades and returned from the river.. at least temporarily.

Below are pictures of the trip and the fossils

Driftwood poses a hazard for small craft on the potomac. Often drift wood is almost entirely submerged making it difficult to see and to avoid.

Here a Turkey Vulture roosts on some driftwood

My only snake encounter of the trip was with this beautiful Green Tree Snake. The coloration did not work to the snakes advantage on this brown log.

These are common flowers along the Potomac. A nice website visitor informed me this plant is called a "Trumpet Creeper." It's a vine that grows trumpet shaped flowers, that Humming Birds love, and long ciger shaped seed pods.

Here we see a flock of Cormorants on a pound net. Cormorants are interesting birds as they are quite graceful divers. In spain I had the opportunity to snorkel with one as it was diving for fish. It was very fast and agile underwater.

The Fossils!

The person in the foreground is Cathy Young, director of Mid-Atlantic Fossil and Nature Adventures. Here, the group is fossil hunting along the Calvert cliffs. Some nice fossil shark teeth were found by the crew.

This is a sand tiger tooth ripe for the picking along the potomac cliffs.

Here are my finds from the trip. I failed to gather the smaller stuff to include in this picture. The fossils on the top half of the picture come from Calvert exposures. The fossils along the bottom half of the picture come from Paleocene exposures.

These are Paleoscans finds. He managed to find a nice Otodus from the Paleocene exposures and a few nice Makos from the Miocene exposures.

These are Paleoscans finds from in front of his beach house. They were found by leisurely collecting over the last few months. Man, it must be nice to own a house in front of fossil exposures! For scale, the two larger makos are around 2". I must add that he had another beautiful croc tooth that fell and broke as the picture was being taken.

This is a nice 2" mako I found laying in a block of matrix.

Here is the mako in the matrix after being prepped. I decided to leave it in the matrix for display purposes. I have enough out of matrix anyhow.

Here's anouther decent mako found along the beach.

Although it's only a Hemepristis serra tooth, it is rather large for these Miocene exposures.

Recommended Books and Fossils:

Shark Tooth Hunting on the Carolina Coast
By: Ashley Oliphant, 2015
A guide on how to find and identify fossil shark teeth on the North and South Carolina beaches. It also has an easy to use section for shark teeth identification. If you want to find shark teeth in the Carolinas, read this book first!

Get Your Very Own Megalodon Tooth:

These are Authentic Megalodon teeth sold by Fossil Era , a reputable fossil dealer (that I personally know) who turned his fossil passion into a business. His Megalodon teeth come in all sizes and prices, from small and inexpensive to large muesum quality teeth. Each tooth has a detailed descriptions and images that include its collecting location and formation. If you are looking for a megalodon tooth, browse through these selections!

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