Checking out Carmel Church

As the new Asst. Curator of Paleontology, I wanted to see the well-known Carmel Church Quarry firsthand. It was a quick trip (Sunday to Tuesday) to check out this great fossil site. I headed over to Caroline County, Virginia with fellow VMNH paleontologist Christina Byrd to do a little digging.

View along the wall at the Carmel Church Quarry on Aug. 3 2015

View along the wall at the Carmel Church Quarry on Aug. 3 2015

Christina excavated out a whale bone that was between two boulders in the small “boulder field” at the far edge of the digging area. I started digging out along the western edge of the boulder field and was very happy to find multiple in situ fossil shark teeth.

Christina in the boulder field at the Carmel Church Quarry

Christina in the boulder field at the Carmel Church Quarry

Shark teeth are common as fossils, but usually in places where they are already lying on the surface. It was really fun to collect them straight out of the ground. Just from one day of digging, I found several teeth that may have belonged to the same individual shark, an extinct species of Mako. In all, a couple dozen teeth came out from a small pocket of sediment. Here’s a sample below:

Can you find the 5 fossil shark teeth in this photo?

Can you find the 5 fossil shark teeth in this photo?

Associated sets of shark teeth are rare in the fossil record. Due to sharks shedding many teeth throughout their lifetime, you usually find them in jumbled up, unsorted groups. To find teeth of about the same size from the same species in a small area may mean we have an associated set here at the Carmel Church Quarry.

Of course, no visit to Carline County would be complete without stopping by the terrific Caroline County Visitor Center. They have a fantastic skeletal mount of the extinct whale Eobalaenoptera harrisoni that was excavated from the Carmel Church Quarry.

Can’t wait to come back and do some more digging in Caroline County.

Great skeletal mount of the fossil whale Eobalaenoptera from the Carmel Church Quarry.

Great skeletal mount of the fossil whale Eobalaenoptera from the Carmel Church Quarry.

For more on what Caroline County has to offer, check out their website at: http://www.visitcaroline.com/Tourism/visitorcenter.html

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About Alex

I recently started the position of Assistant Curator of Paleontology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. My background is in fossil reptiles including crocodiles and the giant snake Titanoboa. I'm very excited to start working with some great fossils in Virginia!
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One Response to Checking out Carmel Church

  1. Joe Parker says:

    It is a fantastic site!! Have been there with Butch several times. My son, John, went to Peru with Butch for 3 weeks to work on and study fossils there. He is married now and has settled in Caroline County…if you ever need a strong back to help there…he would be happy to help if it worked schedule wise!!

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