Saturday, July 22, 2017

W. M. Browning Cretaceous Fossil Park

   Today's adventure took us to Twenty Mile Creek in Frankstown, Mississippi. It is known for prehistoric shark teeth and other fossils. This fossil park is a day use area just off of Highway 45 Near Boonville, Mississippi, about an hour from where we live. We have been planning to make this trip for several years after some of the boys were given one of the best birthday presents...a bag of sand and a sieve. Eventually realized that it was dug from this area and even though the bag of sand was lots of fun to search through and find stuff we just figured it would have to be loads of fun to go out there and dig for "hidden treasures".


This morning we decided we should just go, so we packed up the kids and headed out...we stopped off at Walmart to look for kids sand toys or something that we could use as a sieve. There weren't any more, so we decided on cat litter scoops and some sink sieves. When we go back for a second try I think I'd like to be prepared with a bigger sieve box.

 We arrived and headed down to the creek and I quickly realized that even though pictures would have been fun, the camera would have most likely gone for a swim. I made the right choice it would have definitely drowned a couple of times from either falling or sinking into deep spots. The entrance to the creek was very steep and very slippery with no where to go but straight into the water. So I took a few pictures before we explored and searched for prehistoric shark teeth and other possible fossils.



We spent several hours sifting through the creek bed sand and gravel. It seems to be a relatively safe area. The current wasn't overly strong, and the deepest point was probably at the top of my legs so even Benjamin(4) was able to stay above water at all times. Everyone found something interesting to take home; several shark teeth, shells a few fossil pieces. Benjamin found "peanut rock" it was bigger than him so we couldn't bring that one home, but we know where to visit it. Some of the other interesting finds were the critters in the water.

There were bunches of minnows to chase through the water, tadpoles to watch, dragonfly nymphs, some small blue dragonflies...but the most interesting that was weird, interesting and a bit creepy were the tiny bright blood red worms that I was really worried were some kind of leech. It was actually the larval form of a type of midge fly and thankfully harmless but definitely very interesting to come across.

One warning that I did read was that May was the best time to go because at this time of year there is a heavy accumulation of algae. They were definitely right about that and it did affect the ability to sift through the sands and it was a bit icky to rub against in the water. The water was mostly clear, but I would definitely recommend wearing some type of shoe in the water. No one got hurt, but while sifting through I found several pieces of glass a nail and some old pieces of barbed wire.



This would be a great field trip to do with some experienced people that could explain some of the formations and types of rock and soil that are found in the creek bed. 
I really loved the rock formations in the creek, they are called concretions. If you look closely on them many have fossil shells on the surface.  The article below explains how they are formed. 

This was a very interesting history of the area that I enjoyed reading. http://magsfieldguide.blogspot.com/2007/07/upper-cretaceous-fossils-of-frankstown.html

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