LA BARDE, FRANCE–Macy Conrad and I began our paleontological fieldwork in what may be the most beautiful part of Europe: southwestern France. Our superb guide and colleague is Natural History Museum scientist Dr. Paul Taylor, a long-time friend who has a home in this region with his wife Patricia. Above is a view of our first location: Aubeterre-sur-Drone. Extraordinary. And note the weather!
This is our first outcrop. Macy is standing at an exposure of the Biron Formation, a Cretaceous (Campanian) limestone full of fossils, especially Pycnodonte oysters. Many of these oysters are encrusted by bryozoans. This is the “Garage Esso” location, also known as Route D17, in Aubeterre. We are in the exploratory phase of the project — essentially sorting out projects.
The overlying Barbezieux Formation (also Campanian — all the units are Campanian today) has well-exposed Pycnodonte oyster banks. These are of particular interest to us, especially if they are bored or encrusted. This is the “Chemin” section in Aubeterre.
Paul knew a field near Le Maine Roy where fossils from the Maurens Formation are exposed. This did not sound like a productive site, but it was the best of the day. Above you see a pile of rocks marked by a stake. These are larger stones removed from the fields by farmers. (I was reminded of what many French farmers in the north continually extract from their soil: World War I artillery shells!)
Our last stop of the day was a roadcut near Chalais exposing the Biron Formation. It had a great diversity of fossils, including echinoids, sponges, oysters, and ammonites. It did not have an abundance of sclerobionts, so it probably won’t be a site for us in the future.
In Aubeterre we visited two fantastic churches. The first was St. Jacques. Most of it had been destroyed in the 17th century religious wars, but the Romanesque facade remains. This is the main entrance.
We are staying in the gorgeous French home of Paul and Patricia Taylor in La Barde. It is an 1820 converted farmhouse, both beautiful and comfortable. The River Dronne is just a few steps away. We’ll have more photos of this wonderful and peaceful place in later posts.
|Garage Esso, Route D17, Aubeterre||153||Biron||N45° 16.212′ E0° 10.274′|
|Route D17, Aubeterre||154||Barbezieux||N45° 16.127′ E0° 10.268′|
|Chemin, Aubeterre||155||Barbezieux||N45° 16.088′ E0° 10.257′|
|50 m up lane, Aubeterre||156||Barbezieux||N45° 16.115′ E0° 10.229′|
|Back Chateau entrance, Aubeterre||157||Aubeterre||N45° 16.362′ E0° 10.262′|
|Car Park, Aubeterre||158||Aubeterre||N45° 16.344′ E0° 10.176′|
|Le Maine Roy||159||Maurens||N45° 19.383′ E0° 07.885′|
|Chalais roadcut||160||Biron||N45° 16.642′ E0° 02.395′|