Friday, December 20, 2013

Chesapeake Bay Has Fossils?

There is a good article on the fossils of the Bay in the Bay Quarterly today, with special emphasis on the whales:

The Chesapeake's Excellent Fossils:  Discoveries in Bay cliff formations are yielding new insights into prehistoric creatures, including ancient whales 
...not far away lived a paleontologist with a long-time interest in the cliffs, and he knew what to do next. Stephen Godfrey, the curator of paleontology at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland, began the excavation of the jawbone — which turned out to be much more. Over several weeks, the team, which included a host of volunteers, unearthed from the cliff face an entire whale skull, measuring six feet from front to back. Along with it came many other bones: vertebrae, pieces of ribs, a humerus from right below the whale's shoulder, and part of a flipper bone. For paleontologists, to find so many fossilized pieces of a single whale in one place constituted a bonanza.

The leviathan's remains may seem like an unusual thing to discover around the Chesapeake Bay, but the region has long been known for producing plentiful fossils of marine life, including whales. Most have come from the Calvert Cliffs, located in Maryland about 25 miles northeast of the Stratford features.

Part of the same geologic formation as the Stratford features, Calvert Cliffs run 30 miles down the Bay's western shore, beginning near the town of Chesapeake Beach and ending by Drum Point on the Patuxent River. The cliffs — which turn golden during sunrise — and their surrounding beaches in Calvert County are known for fossilized sharks' teeth and other prehistoric remains. Look closely, and you'll find an explosion of life recorded in stone: whale fossils, yes, but also ancient sand dollars, pecten scallops, and twisting shells from sea snails. These animals all lived during a geologic epoch called the Miocene, which lasted from about 23 to five million years ago. It was an important period in the evolution of whales.
I went out today again.  Not as good as yesterday, I only found 45 shark's teeth, a Black Drums tooth, and some Bat Ray plates.  Not a single whale skull, although I throw back a lot of small bone shards that could be whale skull for all I know.

The front page of the Bay Quarterly.

1 comment:

  1. Just having some fun (too much coffee)

    Chesapeake Bay – As the rate of unexplained drowning deaths has reportedly crept up in Chesapeake Bay area, some observers have turned to an unusual explanation: a Leviathan Melvillei is amongest us

    The legend of a killer Leviathan Melvillei lurking in the murky waters of Chesapeake Bay has been surfacing for at least the past several years. Animal Planet’s Lost Tapes even aired an investigation of this mid evil creature. This beast (or beasts), dubbed the “Chesapeake Leviathan Melvillei,” reportedly drags swimmers down with its many sharp teeth.

    How could a sea creature have found its way to heartland of Chesapeake Bay?

    This unlikely animal, people have explained, might be a rare living fossil, left over from the time (tens of millions of years ago) when this part of the country was, indeed, a shallow sea–and a perfect Leviathan Melvillei habitat. Over the millennia, this particular line of Leviathan Melvillei has adapted to brackish water.

    Unlike even Bigfoot, Chupacabra and the Loch Ness Monster, the Chesapeake Leviathan Melvillei has granted no photographic clues–no matter how blurry or improbable. Nevertheless, its absence does leave the reported rise in drowning deaths unexplained–except by a few folks who proffer that giant catfish are to blame