This morning we began our latest excavation at the Carmel Church Quarry. We’ll be on site for the next two weeks, and as in past years I’ll try to post each evening about the day’s activities.
There’s been a lot of rain in Virginia the last few months, and we haven’t been to the site since March. The road into the pit has overgrown a bit, but we had no problems getting to the site. After meeting with Jason Babcock and Tim Rice from Martin Marietta for a refresher in safety training, we got to work reopening the Buttercup Pit.
We spent a couple of hours removing overburden, and taking off our temporary jacket from last March (we left a few bones in the ground on that trip). By late morning we had reached the bonebed, and we pretty quickly started finding new specimens. James and Courtland each found a possible vertebra, located only a few inches from each other:
Here’s a marked up version:
The vertebra on the left appears to be a whale. I’m not sure about the one on the right. I think it’s a vertebra, but I don’t know yet if it’s whale or fish.
Amanda found several interesting bones on the other side of the pit, including this sunfish dermal bone…
…and this shell fragment from the sea turtle Syllomus:
In the weathered material near the front of the pit (and after Tim had done all the hard work of getting down to the bonebed) I found a possible seed or nut:
I’m not positive about my identification on this one. While Carmel Church is loaded with fossil wood, recognizable pieces are exceedingly rare, so if I’m correct about this being a nut it will be a nice find.
All in all it was a very successful first day, and I’m optimistic about the next two weeks. I’d like to thank Martin Marietta Materials, including Jason and Tim, for continuing to provide access to the site. I also need to point out that we are able to conduct this excavation due to our successful fundraising effort at Petridish.org. I’d like to thank Matt Salzberg and the rest of the staff at Petridish.org, as well as the 39 donors listed below, who generously donated to this project and made our work possible:
Herbert M. Sauro
Marion Kiser Adam
Cynthia and John Duke Anthony
James W. Severt
Joe B. Keiper
Rose M. Schooff