The work ahead

This is our field jacket storage room, nestled away in the basement of the museum. Although I didn’t count, I estimate there are around 100-200 jackets in here (the boxes are filled with small jackets and bags of small fossils). We have perhaps 200 more jackets stored in other locations in the museum and offsite.

Each of those large jackets will require 6-18 months of preparation time; that’s one reason we’re always looking for volunteers (as well as donations to help with glue, plaster, etc.). Clearly, we have our work cut out for us, but there are some exciting fossils waiting in this room. Fortunately, our new lab has made it dramatically easier to prepare all these fossils.


We’ve slowly been sorting through our Carmel Church finds from last week. Most of these won’t be prepared for some time, but some of the bagged material gets cleaned right away. One of the coolest specimens we collected was this gigantic fish vertebra, which Amy found last Thursday. I’m not sure what kind of fish this is, but it was a monster; at 8 cm in length, this vertebra is as long as some of the baleen whale vertebrae in our collection.

This entry was posted in Carmel Church Osteichthyans, Carmel Church Quarry, Chesapeake Group, Paleontological techniques. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The work ahead

  1. Doug says:

    Look at them all! Yeesh, I’d volunteer and help with all the prep work if I didn’t live on the opposite side of the country.

    That’s one big fish! Maybe it’s from one of the alrger types, like a tuna, or a marlin, or maybe even a mola mola. Those are the only giant fish I could think of.

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    If you ever end up in the east, Doug, we’ll have a lab table for you to get to work!

  3. Alton Dooley says:

    Mola, tuna and marlin are all known from the Calvert Formation; Mola and Thunnus are known from Carmel Church.

    Most of the skeleton in Mola does not ossify; their remains are generally limited to premaxillae, dentaries, and dermal bones. To my knowledge, no fossil molid vertebrae have ever been found (I’ve never even seen a modern one).

    Marlins seem to have vertebrae of a completely different shape; at least the ones I’m familiar with. They are more elongate, with huge dorsal and ventral processes. They probably are this big, though.

    Tuna are a possibility. The tuna remains we’ve identified from Carmel Church are mostly tail vertebrae, which have a different shape. They also seem to be from much smaller fish. I know tuna get big, but I’m not sure how big (of course, as you said, there are limited options for fish this large).

    Interestingly, we have a few other vertebrae from Carmel Church that have a pretty similar morphology to this one, but they’re all much smaller, only about a half to a quarter the size of this one.

  4. Doug says:

    Haha, I am not sure where I’ll end up, but I’ll definately keep that in mind. At the very least, I’ll have to try and stop by next time I visit my sister in Woodbridge.

    like I said, I was just throwing out the only big fish I could think of. Last summer at the North Carolina Museum I had seen a partial skeleton of a large tuna: that was my main guess, but good luck with the mystery fish. Like most other fossils, it’ll be made clear in time.

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