Fossil Find! Basement Clean-Up Surprise.

Sea Shells or Treasure Trove?
In a fit of productivity last weekend, I headed to the basement with the kids and decided that while they were playing, I would grab a box off of the shelf and see what I could sort out. We have slowly been going through boxes since our move (nearly, ahem, 5 years ago now), but still have more to go.

I cleaned out a lot of junk, but also found a number of useful items as well as some things set aside to look through later. One of those “for later” items was a mesh bag with what looked like some sea shells in it. I assumed it was from when my husband got his dive certification and just put it aside.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but it wasn’t just sea shells from the beach! It was actually a little treasure trove of Miocene-era fossils that we picked up on the one trip we made to Calvert Cliffs, Maryland about a decade ago.  From their website, Calvert Cliffs State Park states that “Over 600 species of fossils have been identified from these cliffs, with the teeth of various species of shark as the most abundant fossils.” Here is a sampling of what was in my bag:

I had forgotten all about that trip! It was with a group of scientific artists from the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, and we had a wonderful day scouring the small beach, shallows and cliff area for fossils.


I did have an identification sheet in the bag that shows some of the pieces are eagle ray dental plates (on the right-side of the picture):

Here are various shark teeth (I have yet to ID them specifically…) as well as a shark vertebra (below) — very cool!


Shark vertebra (approximately 3/4″ in diameter.)


I also have what appears to be a larger vertebra (far left of the photo) and have to do some research to find out what it came from. 

If you have any ideas, please comment and let me know!

I am looking forward to sketching some of these unique shapes. Great way to practice my graphite skills and maybe some pen work. I also can’t wait until my older daughter has her “sharing bag” for school again so we can put some of these in there!

What fun finds have you come across when cleaning out old boxes or even on a walk on the beach or through the woods? 

4 thoughts on “Fossil Find! Basement Clean-Up Surprise.

  1. What a fantastic find! I love fossils. There isn't anything too interesting in our basement boxes, that I can think of — but it'll be interesting to go through the old fabric stashes in my closet and see what I've squirreled away. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. What fun to find such a stash! I didn't know it was possible to id what variety of shark a tooth came from. I have some from a visit with our daughter in N.C. some years ago. Now you've got me wondering! I do have part of a seagull skull, and a jawbone from (I think)a squirrel that I found in our yard though. Sounds like you save all kinds of "stuff" like I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yes, Anita – you can definitely id sharks' teeth. I bet there are some online guides or other reference materials that would let you figure out what you have from N.C. I love skulls!! The seagull skull part sounds very cool – and we actually have a bit of squirrel paw from a really fun visit to some friends last summer. Long story, but they collect all sorts of natural stuff, too, and we had a blast!

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