Be a Weekend Paleontologist – Fossil Collecting Trips

A few years ago, I heard about a fossil collecting trip that another homeschooling family had gone on (I came across it on a blog somewhere). It sounded so terrific, I tucked in the back of my mind and kept an eye on the trips offered by Cathy at Fossil and Nature Trips. She organizes fossil collecting trips up and down the east coast.  I had my eye on one in Virginia which is offered in the spring and fall. (It is open to kids 4+.)  This year it finally worked out that we could clear the schedule to go. We were excited that our friends, another homeschooling family, could join us.

Our fossil hunting trip was at Stratford Hall, the birthplace and childhood home of Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Confederates during the Civil War.  Usually most of the beach area is off-limits to the public, but they open their shores to Cathy’s fossil trips since there is a paleontologist on hand overseeing the site.

FossilTripThey had boats to take us to various parts of the mile or two long stretch of beach.  Mostly we hung out with our friends in a couple of different spots. It was an unbelievable weekend!   LD and his friend C spent 95% of the time intensely looking for fossils. Their efforts were certainly rewarded. The kids found lots of sharks teeth… everything from Tiger Sharks, Sand Sharks and Snaggle Tooth Sharks. Even ED found about 7 or 8 sharks teeth fossils.

DSC00864Shark-Teeth-labeled1LD was overjoyed to find a baby megalodon tooth! He also found lots and lots of other fossilized teeth. His friend C also found a megalodon tooth while DD found the fossilized tooth of a Mako Shark (below) which had washed up on the shore:

FossilTeethSo how large were the megalodons?  Check out this picture (courtesy of wikimedia):

Megalodon_scale.svgNo one would want to be around these teeth, right?!

MegaladonA couple other neat things that were found over the weekend was a large vertebrate found by K and the partially fossilized shoulder blade of some sort of mammal by C.


What made the trip even more exciting was the expertise of Dr. Ward, an invertebrate paleontologist.  He told us so much about the fossils and the bits and pieces we brought to him! He found some massive fossilized clam shells and let the kids take a couple home:

DSC00793Fossil-Clam-ShellsSince we were at Stratford Hall, we had to check out Robert E. Lee’s childhood home.  In later years, he wanted to purchase the land back, though he never did. The land had been in his family since the 1717.  Here is the main house, mill and back gardens:

StratfordHall-RobertELee-HomeBe sure to check out the trips available at the Mid-Atlantic Fossil and Nature Adventures. (I am not an affiliate, I just thought this trip was amazing!) We sure had a wonderful time and can highly recommend it!

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