Thursday, January 05, 2006

Trilobite hunting

Nevada afternoon

The weather in the Southwest has been unusually warm and sunny for weeks on end, so today Bill & Jill and I went to soak up some sun and search, yet again, for the elusive trilobite Ollenelus, a denizen of the shallow Cambrian seas that were here 550 million years ago. They are the oldest complete fossil specimens in the entire world. No lie kids.

We set off for a rocky peak south of Caliente, Nevada, that had already been scouted on a prior trip, that proved to be very fruitful. Instead of Ollenelus, we found the less well known and more poorly preserved Bathyuriscus productus. I collected a really large tail (1.5 inches) which is pictured below. Nerdvana! The bug that it belonged to would be well nigh over 4 inches long!

The sun felt warm on our winter faces as we ate lunch beneath Joshua trees, while above two fighter jets carried out a mock dog fight, shooting off chaff flares that burned brightly in the clear deep blue of the endless Mojave sky.

A whopper of a tail

Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia)

Back home in Utah


Anonymous said...

How homesick can you make a person?? I spent many weekends camped amid the Joshua trees and creosote. I have a vial of magic grass seeds at my desk right now that I collected there. I didn’t fossil hunt, but I observed the geology. Couldn’t make sense of it. It seems such a conglomeration of geologic stuff, igneous and sedimentary all mixed together. The desert was fragrant and still and quiet (notwithstanding the Air Force) but the geology always struck me as evidence of extreme violence.
Steve DoBell

Anonymous said...


I sure miss that area of Nevada. Not too many people appreciate the beauty of the vast desert. I know I appreciate it much more now that I live in Red Bluff.


beamis said...

There's a song by Mike Watt called Red Bluff. It's all about your town. Ever hear of it?

And Steve, you are right, it is a mucked up and violently brewing stew of sedimentary (mostly limestone) and igneous rocks. The lower Great Basin is sinking and sliding downward in soft magma as the Gulf of California continues to grow northward.

Audie said...

I second Steve's emotion. That bottom picture did it for me -- wide open spaces, lots of clear blue sky, and air dry-er than a Steven Wright one-liner. I love Colorado, but I miss that deathly still, silent, dry atmosphere of the desert, full of the hardiest of creatures.

Thanks, Beamis.


P.S. Steve, I'd love to hear the rest of the fairy tale that you started with "I have a vial of magic grass seeds...."

beamis said...

Steven Wright one-liner? I'm clueless.

Devastatin' Dave said...

C'mon, Beamis, get with the program.pd

beamis said...

Care to elaborate?

Audie said...

Steven Wright, n, comedian, author of such lines as:

"The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

"The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up."

"A fool and his money are soon partying."

"I was sad because I had no shoes -- until I met a man with no feet.... So I said, 'Got any shoes you're not using?'"

"When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked me if I had any guns. I said, 'Whaddaya need?'"

"I wear my heart on my sleeve. I wear my liver on my pant leg."

"You never know what you've got til it's gone. I wanted to know what I had so I got rid of everything."

"My school colors were clear."

"I'm staying in an old hotel.... They sent me a wake-up letter."

"One time I stayed in a hotel, the pool was on the 23rd floor.... I couldn't believe how deep it was."

"When I die I'm gonna leave my body to science fiction."

"I xeroxed a mirror. Now I have an extra xerox machine."

"The other day I went to a store that had a big sign out front that said 'Open 24 Hours.' I walked up and the guy was locking the door. I said, 'Hey, aren't you open 24 hours?' He said "Yeah, but not in a row.'"

"I have a small apartment, but I like it cuz they allow pets.... I have a pony."

"I heard that all the babies prevented by the birth control pill showed up.... They were pissed."

"I got a postcard from my friend George. On the front was a satellite picture of the entire earth. On the back it said 'Wish you were here.'"

I intend to live forever.... So far, so good."


beamis said...

Oh, I've completely missed this guy on my radar screen.