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