October was great at our new off-season locality, but things really started to take off in November - one of the best months of fossil collecting in my life.
A beautful posterior tooth of the ancestral megatoothed shark Carcharocles angustidens - look at how stubby this one is!
At one particular spot we tend to find a lot of lined sea stars, Luidia clathrata, at low tide. These are 'doomed pioneers' that venture above the low tide line on the sand flats and get stranded. I tossed about 15 of them back into the surf on this day in particular.
This one was quite possibly the most frustrating false periotic I've ever come across. I actually filmed it, I swore it was going to be a delphinid periotic bone! Just a phosphate nodule with a rough trilobate outline and a cluster of holes looking like the endocranial foramina.
A massive chunky horse tooth from the Pleistocene! Still has all the cementum on it, which is frequently spalled away.
At this locality there are tons of well-preserved steinkerns (internal molds) of ancient quahog clams (genus Mercenaria). So, we collected a bunch and I made a temporary art installation on the beach.
A Miocene earbone (tympanic bulla) of some kind of dolphin, probably (but uncertainly) a eurhinodelphinid.
A legend-class cutter operated by the US Coast Guard, spotted in Charleston harbor just near the main shipping channel - I think this could be the James, but there are several other cutters that are based out of Charleston: Hamilton, Stone, and Calhoun. That's 40% of the entire fleet! The only other port that operates as home base to four different cutters is also a place I call home: Alameda, California. Note that this thing is basically a lightly armed frigate - it's got a 57 mm Bofors deck gun on the bow and several antiaircraft guns. It's times like this when you remember that the US Coast Guard is officially a branch of the armed forces and a bit of a light navy.
A small lightning whelk (Sinistrofulgur perversum) in beautiful shape! These are rare, perhaps you find one lightning whelk shell for every ~25 or more knobbed whelks (Busycon carica). Knobbed whelks are the most common large gastropod along the Carolina coast.
A partial balaenopterid whale periotic - the pars cochlearis here has been busted off from the body of the periotic, showing us a great partial endocranial view of the cochlea - the spiral organ of hearing. This specimen has at least two complete turns of the cochlea.
A different periotic, and one that is also incomplete, but with an intact pars cochlearis. This is from an as-yet unidentified, but relatively common, early Miocene dolphin we keep finding - that bears similarities with an unpublished platanistoid dolphin from Europe.
Some of my favorite finds are those that others clearly walked right by. Here's a partial Carcharocles megalodon tooth right next to someone's bootprint!
Extruded sand from some kind of invertebrate - I think, based on prior reading, that this is from some sort of large burrowing annelid worm.
Ashby called me over as he understands my inordinate fondness for intertidal invertebrates: a mantis shrimp! Based on a quick search on Inaturalist, this looks like it might be a juvenile West Atlantic Mantis Shrimp (Squilla empusa). I carried it to the water in a large shell, but dared not get my fingers close! I'm much too attached to them. My fingers that is, not invertebrates.
A colorful sea whip (Leptogorgia virgulata) - these quite commonly wash up along certain places in the harbor. This species can be yellow or magenta. Sea whips are gorgonians - soft corals, aka octocorals - and are closely related to the sea fans, their more famous tropical cousins.
A juvenile Carcharocles chubutensis tooth - possibly Carcharocles angustidens, as these two species really grade together around the Oligocene-Miocene boundary.
A veritable smorgasbord of fossils from one of our better days out on the harbor.
A stingray- or skate-bitten dugong rib! These traces are formed by batoids with pointy teeth and which draw their bite posteriorly, rasping away flesh from a bone.
We had one day out there where we found nine different cetacean earbones! Most were partial bullae, but there's an unusual mysticete periotic in there, a good waipatiid periotic, an acid-digested xenorophid bulla, and a pygmy sperm whale bulla.