Fake Gold, Fake Diamonds and a Real…Fish Jaw?

The blue is the Pyrite
The beige is the Bentonite

Tuesday Lisa and Matt had a school dig. After the tour, they joined Joey and Ted. They discovered a few fossil fragments, but the real puzzler of the day was a bluish-gold concretion in the Boyne Bentonite. Their first thought was some sort of blue clay, but after further examination, they discovered that it was indeed a pyrite concretion. You know, Fool’s Gold? Yeah, that kind of Pyrite, but it wasn’t as golden as that type, so we were in no danger of falling victim to gold fever. In the picture here, it appears to be blue, but with closer observation there are the tell-tale golden sparkles that permeate it.

Searching the Glacial Till while
Joey and Ted observe.

Wednesday Joey, Ted, Matt and I travelled down to one of our dig sites to remove overburden and dig for fossils. Before we even reached the site, we stopped at an exposure that had only recently been uncovered by rain from the previous week. We examined the soil and discovered…it was only glacial till. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a member and therefore not useful for us. It was terribly anti-climactic, but the day wasn’t done with us yet!

The bottom of the jaw.
At the site Matt and Ted worked extremely hard and carted away a considerable section of upper and middle Gammon. The most exciting part for me: I found my first (identifiable) fossil!! I was happily scraping away with my tiny pick, brush and rock hammer when I suddenly caught a flash of the recognizable pinkish whitish of a fossil. I picked up the piece that dropped and lo and behold! There was a (possible) Cimolicthys jaw with some discernible teeth still in it! A Cimolicthys is actually a pre-historic and extinct salmonid fish. The other half of the jaw was still encased in the ground, but I bagged and tagged my jaw with the squealing excitement of a 5-year old. There is nothing quite like finding the teeth of a carnivorous 80-million year old ginormous fish. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I luckily discovered some lone teeth floating around in the Gammon. There might still be a jaw down there!

The random tooth.
Maybe there's a jaw
underneath it!

Thursday was a very busy day as Lisa and I had a school dig. We had a very happy school group who were excited to learn and eager to find their very own fossils. Before we arrived at the dig site, however, we took our enthusiastic group to a neat spot of exposed Morden member bursting with Pembina diamonds or Selenite. A colorless crystal, this mineral is salt based and will dissolve if it comes into contact with water.It is an enjoyable spot to stop and search for diamonds that you can bring back home to show your family and friends! Our kids collected handfuls, pocketfuls and bagfuls of glassy selenite. Our only advice: Make sure they are out of your pants pockets before you wash your jeans.  Not something you want in your washing machine! It was an exceptionally warm day and although we had several false alarms (the concretions were out in full force!) of fossil finds, we did have 3 young fellows discover some possible mosasaur vertebrae (backbones) and some unidentifiable fossils.

 It was a great third week and I can't wait to go out digging again to see if I can find the rest of my Cimolicthys!