Return to Carmel Church

A couple weeks ago the VMNH paleo team returned to the renowned Carmel Church fossil site for a few days of excavation.  This 14 million-year-old marine site has been producing for years and this time was no less. We had a pretty good haul, including something extra special we’ll have to excavate out next time.


VMNH fossil preparator, Ray Vodden, with a whale vertebra.


The trip was timed with the regional meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America, which was in Richmond, Virginia this year. Geologists from the region seemed to enjoy getting to dig for fossil sharks, whales, dugongs, and more. One participant managed to uncover the front end of a whale skull.


The very beginning of a whale skull coming out of the ground. The snout of the skull is poking out with the left and right jaws on either side.

The skull was uncovered too late in the dig to get it out, so we’ll be back for it this summer. Hopefully there’s a lot more of it still buried in the ground. Meanwhile, VMNH volunteer Paul May found the first crocodile tooth of the dig, one of my personal favorites.


VMNH volunteer Paul May with his prize find of a crocodile tooth.

The Caroline County Visitor Center was very nice and treated the GSA participants to a catered lunch at the center, with their fantastic Eobalaenoptera skeleton in full-view. Many thanks to them!


The VMNH paleo team. From left to right: me (Alex), Lucy Treado, and Ray Vodden.

About Alex

I started as the Assistant Curator of Paleontology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in July of 2015. It's been a fun ride so far, with many more projects on the horizion. My background is in fossil reptiles, especially crocodiles and their kin. Here in Virginia, I've also been getting to know the fascinating world of fossil insects, sharks, and the ice age.
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