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Calvert Cliffs Fossil Hunt

Fall Calvert Cliffs Fossil Hunt - 2009

Calvert Cliffs of Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay - Miocene Fossils

A mid-November day on a jetski can be a cold experience.  It's only recommended for crazy people.

A mid-November day on a jetski can be a cold experience. It's only recommended for crazy people.


It's been a while since I was at the bay. On the last trip, I sunk the kayak and was sent adrift in the bay for a few hours. This time I thought the jetski may be a safer craft to take, especially in November when the air and water temperatures are quite low, plus the kayak remains are inoperable right now.

On the first day, I decided to hit some of the more remote cliff exposures in the bay area. Pulling up to the boat ramp, I noticed a boat getting prepared for launching. Perhaps they were fishermen? Nope, after getting out of the car, they congratulated Amy on her Aurora, NC find from last season. It was a member from Black River Fossils and his son. This is the first time I met him, so we chatted for a few minutes, but were eager to get launched! Soon we took off for the cliff exposures.

After a numbing ride in the cold water, with icy spray hitting my face, I arrived at the first set of cliff exposures. A few feet from where I beached the jetski was a 2.25 inch Extinct White (C. hastalis) lying against a tree branch waiting to be plucked. "What luck," I thought, "this place must be full of teeth!" Well, the teeth were spotty, but there were a few.

The next stop was more cliff exposures a few miles away. This spot looked promising, as there were fresh falls everywhere. Another nice mako tooth was quickly found. While walking along the low tide line, where the waves were washing up, I noticed a few vertebra sticking out of the matrix laden beach. Looking like shark verts, I tried to search for a skull with no luck. It looked like most of the animal was already eroded and washed away, only about 6 associated verts remained on a slightly higher area of the beach. Searching around I found another vert washing with the waves. It looks like this fossil needed to be found a few weeks ago. Between waves, I collected remaining verts before they became submerged again, and searched around for more signs of the animal. None were to be foundů Most of it had already eroded out and turned to sand. As the tide started to raise and the beach area started to submerge, I decided it was time to leave. We hopped on the jetski, and began our long and cold, and now wavy ride back to the boat ramp.

That evening after inspecting the verts, they did not appear to be shark. After cleaning the mud off, and looking up fish vertebra, I concluded they might be from a Tarpon.

The next day we awoke to find the bay to be very choppy and much colder than expected. Aborting the jetski ride, we instead went to a spot along the St. Marys formation to collect. Not allot was found, but it was relaxing to comb the beach, listening to the waves.




Additional Images and Fossils Found








After jetskiing for a few miles, stopping for a break on a sand bar can be a warm experience.



This secion of cliffs looks different from most sections, as there are large chunks of iron eroding from the strata.



These are the finds for the trip. Not shown here are the associated Tarpon vertebra.



This is an image of the vertebra still in the matrix. This shot was taken between waves.



Here is a closer view of the Tarpon vertebra.



A large fossil white (C. hastalis) shark tooth when found along the beach



This is another large 2 1/4 inch white (C. hastalis) fossil shark tooth as found.



A small posterior 2 3/16 inch fossil megalodon shark tooth was also found.



This is the 2 5/16 nch slant height white shark (C. hastalis). It looks like a broad form version.



This is the 2 1/4 inches slant height white shark (C. hastalis). It looks like a narrow form.



Here is the posterior 2 3/16 inch slant height megalodon. It's very worn with no serrations.



This is the 2 5/16 inch slant height white shark (C. hastalis).




Here is the posterior 2 3/16 inch slant height megalodon shark tooth. It's very worn with no serrations.




Here is another small 2 5/16 inch slant height megalodon shark tooth. It's also very worn without serrations.





These are two drumfish jaws sections.



Here are the Tarpon vertebra and skull fragment after prepping.







Recommended Books for Shark Tooth Identification



Fossil Shark Teeth of the World
, A Collector's Guide
by Joe Cocke, Copyright 2002

A great book for identifying all those teeth. This book is laid out "as simple as possible." It's ease of use and small size makes it great to carry during collecting trips. This book shows teeth from around the globe, but all the Calvert teeth can be found in it.




Fossil Sharks of the Chesapeake Bay Region
, A Collector's Guide
by Bretton W. Kent, Copyright 1994

This is a classic for identifying all those teeth at the Calvert Cliffs. It's a must for any beginner collector that fossil hunts in the Maryland/Virginia area.
Unfortunately, this book is out of print. There's used ones on amazon for super insane amounts of money, but SOMETIMES there is a used one available for a few bucks.



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