We’re back at Carmel Church for the next two weeks, with a groups of students representing four different schools (Emory and Henry, Radford, Virginia Tech, and William and Mary). Long-time blog readers will recall that we had to leave a few bones in the ground last fall. We left those bones under a temporary jacket to protect them from the elements over the winter. This morning we removed the jacket to find the bones beautifully preserved, and we were able to begin digging almost right away.
It didn’t take long to start finding good new material – at least for Brett, who seems to have a particular knack for Carmel Church. Before lunch she had found a crocodile tooth (Gavialosuchus or Thecachampsa, depending on the person you talk to):
But Brett wasn’t finished. Late in the afternoon she produced this small bone:
I still have to confirm it, but I’m pretty sure this is a shell fragment from a leatherback turtle. If so, it is the first leatherback ever identified at Carmel Church. Leatherbacks are huge turtles, but their shells are made up of large numbers of small bony plates embedded in the skin. This is particularly intriguing because of this bone, found last fall less than a foot away from the shell fragment and which hasn’t definitely been identified:
Upon seeing this specimen, Stephen Godfrey suggested that it might be from a large turtle, but we both remarked at the time that the only Calvert turtles that large would be leatherbacks. I still don’t know if it’s leatherback, but it’s very interesting that it was found just a few inches from the shell fragment.
Not bad at all for the first day!