Friday, February 22, 2019


Tubular microorganism, major component of carbonate mound in Smackover Formation, Alabama. Image 1 mm wide.

Thursday, February 21, 2019


Core of the Smackover Formation in West Appleton Field, south Alabama. Microbial boundstone (lower half) overlain by laminated carbonate sand consisting primarily of fecal pellets of burrowing shrimp (upper half). Dime for scale.


Internet down at home, breakers tripping, medical equipment on the fritz: a sign? Random chance? Or a vast global conspiracy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Alabama is well known as a home to billions and billions of Cretaceous fossil oysters. People come from the other side of the world to examine them. Here is just one example.

Agerostrea falcata, a small oyster that is found almost anywhere Cretaceous fossil oysters are found in the state of Alabama. Like many oysters, this one has a very labile shell shape, controlled by the situation in which it grows.

This is a death assemblage of A. falcata, from the Bluffport Marl. This heap of oysters is interpreted to have grown on a sea fan, which was not preserved. These little piles of shells are found in many places on the outcrop where this one was discovered.


I support improving life
on this planet, but GMO can go too far
green photosynthetic bunnies
do tend to leave the garden alone
but they bring Easter seeds
instead of eggs
I planted some out back last night
today there is a beanstalk
you wouldn't believe how tall
I think someone's moved in up there, too
and you wouldn't believe the garbage
they are tossing out
$2000 worth of damage
to my truck, hit by a worn-out boot
that was 12 feet long

Paleontology Field Workshop for Teachers

Field Workshop — Paleontology of the Black Belt of Alabama

The Geological Survey of Alabama, the University of West Alabama, Discovering Alabama, the Alabama Geological Society, and the Birmingham Paleontological Society have collaborated for 20 years on an annual one-day field workshop in paleontology. This workshop is specifically aimed at K-12 teachers, but other kinds of educators are welcome to participate. The workshop is held on a Tuesday in October (the dry season) at a privately owned large fossil-rich outcrop, to which we have access for this purpose.

Last year, we focused on studying evidence of interactions among ancient organisms. This year, our focus will be using fossils to understand the stratigraphy, the layering of different kinds of rocks, in the field area.

Here are some photographs from past expeditions. We always find many kinds of fossils. In the past, these have included two pterosaurs, a brittle star, a mosasaur jaw, and a sea turtle shell.

At the bottom, is a registration form. We hope you will join us this coming fall!

Scenery not to be sneezed at.

A fish vertebra just lying on the ground waiting to be picked up.

Conversations in the field.

Shark teeth from many species can be found here.

As well as many other things.


All kinds of teeth.

Oysters and other kinds of shells are common.

All kinds of free publications for teachers to take home. Lunch and snacks are provided. We will help you identify the fossils that you find. You get to take them home, unless you find something truly remarkable. Those specimens go into the museum, with you listed as the collector.

Use this form to register, or email me at


frogs didn't scare 'em
the frustrated god grumbled
next time: whales!