One of my problems in life is I have too many interests. I have a ton of hobbies and if I could, I would clone myself over and over again so that I could have SO MANY DIFFERENT CAREERS. Archaeology and Paleontology are some of those topics that have always interested me. When I was a little kid, I was lucky enough to have my parents be members of the Fort Bend Archaeological Society. I was able to learn how to be meticulous and patient during a dig, and even participate in a few digs where we found things like toy trains from the 1920’s and other cool stuff. In college I took one or two archaeology courses and loved them. We went to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico, rock art paintings at Panther Cave and along the Pecos River, and I learned a ton about arrow and spear points. Although this is not the path that my career took, I will always love archaeology. The history that can be rediscovered after centuries locked away underground fascinated me. If there is a show about the Nazca Lines on the Travel Channel, you can bet I’ll be up til midnight watching it.
I don’t have a lot of opportunity to participate in digs anymore these days, (although I did just look up membership for the Ft. Bend Archaeological Society and it’s only $20, so I may do it!), but Hubby and I found out about McFadden Beach, and how it’s famous for the fossils that turn up there. See, 10-15 thousand years ago, McFadden Beach wasn’t a beach. It was a prairie. This was during the last ice age, so much of the ocean’s water was frozen. The land was exposed. And animals lived on that land. People lived on that land. And animals and people died on that land, too. (Often at the hands of each other). Since the water is so shallow for so far out, and the sand is so fine, fossils of Pleistocene horses, Giant Ground Sloths, Mammoths, and even Cave Bears have been found on this beach. (My ultimate goal is to find a Cave Bear Skull, but I’ll settle for a Clovis point, too).
So Hubby and I headed to McFadden beach for some camping/fossil hunting. As soon as we got to a good site I hopped out of the truck, asked Hubby what he needed me to help with, and his response was perfect: “Nothing. Go play.” AWESOME. I instantly started scouring the beach for fossils, shells, and sea glass. I found a few good shells, but nothing spectacular. From recent flooding there was a lot of garbage that had been washed up onto the sand dunes, that was actually grabbing my attention more than anything. As I wandered the beach, I found a giant onion sack full of plastic water bottles. I assume someone had been picking up plastic bottles on the beach and accidentally left this bag behind, so I grabbed the top of the bag and dragged it to our camp for us to dispose of at home in the recycling bin. (You know, leave the area better than it was when you get there, kind of thing). The bag was getting pretty heavy (dragging a jam-packed bag full of plastic bottles in one hand while carefully carrying shells in the other), so I put it down to switch hands when I suddenly saw my first true treasure on the beach. A fossilized horse tooth!
This tooth was sitting about 3 feet in front of our truck. If we had kept pulling forward to straighten out, we would have parked on it. In fact, the tooth was sitting IN the tire tread marks of the “road” that people had been using to drive along the beach! We had probably walked past the tooth three or four times without even realizing that’s what it was.
Now that I had my Search Image ready, I began scouring the beach even harder, but didn’t find anything else in our vicinity. Still, the weekend had been made – we could now relax and not feel like the whole point of the weekend was wasted!
The next morning Hubby and I got up while he was making breakfast I went to search the beach for items that had washed up during the night. And I found another tooth!
This one was a partial tooth, but a tooth non-the-less! I couldn’t believe it. It’s like I wasn’t even trying to find them and they were just turning up! After breakfast we went for a run on the beach. It was hard for me to concentrate on the run though, because all I could think about was how much real estate I was moving past, without looking for fossils! So when we got to our half-way point and Hubby was going to run back to camp, I decided I was going to walk back instead to take my time and look for fossils. I ended up getting a bunch of rope, plastic, and balloons out of the ocean instead. So I guess I turned it into a weight workout too, because by the end of it I was probably carrying 40 pounds of garbage back to the truck to throw away properly.
Although I didn’t find any fossils on the walk back, I walked around a bit more in the area I had found the second tooth and I found a fossilized deer antler! This fossil looks much older than the other two, and antlers are rare because they are softer bone than teeth. I would love to be able to get them aged, or whatever the proper term is, at the museum or somewhere, to figure out just how old they could be.
After this super successful fossil hunting trip, we definitely plan on going again. But next time I’m finding a Cave Bear Skull!!