An oyster ball nursery and Veyo pies on our last field day in southwestern Utah

Santa Clara, Utah — When you want to sort out how something grows but can’t actually watch it do it, you look for examples of individuals in various developmental states. You can learn a lot about human growth, for example, by studying a group of people from infants to seniors. We do the same with Jurassic oyster balls: find a diverse population and sort out the relative ages. Today we revisited a site in the Gunlock area which in the 1990s yielded some “baby” oyster balls, thus gaining the name “The Nursery” (C/W-156). On its last day of fieldwork, Team Jurassic Utah (specifically Ethan) found the wonderful array of young oyster balls shown above, from least-developed on the right to most-developed on the left. These will be most useful in our lab analyses this fall.

Here is our last field view of the Gunlock outcrops, mostly the Double Layer (DL) locality. One of our landmarks, Square Top Mountain, rises in the background.

And the last image of Team Jurassic Utah at work. Thanks, Nick.

As we passed through the village of Gunlock, we gave Jay Leavitt two nearly-spherical oyster balls as gifts for him and Judy. They were essential to us for access to private lands, and we had great conversations. The equally generous Hyrum and Gail Smith also received oyster ball presents. I hope they realize what treasures these are. Jay looks a bit dubious!

While in Gunlock we had permission to visit the backyard of a well-known collector, now deceased, who had a pile of oyster balls. Turned out the astounding petrified wood collection dwarfed any we had ever seen!

We had lunch at the famous bakery in tiny Veyo that produces delicious pies.

Beef pot pie followed by strawberry-rhubarb pie. Yum!

Unfortunately we’re going to miss the Utah UFO Festival this weekend in nearby Cedar City! I so would be going.

Our very last fieldwork in the afternoon was anticlimactic. We climbed over this huge exposure of Carmel Formation in Dammeron Valley looking for our holy trinity: oyster balls, hardgrounds, encrusted shells. We found none of these. At least it’s one place to scratch off the paleo list. Lots of potential here for sed/strat projects, though.

Team Jurassic Utah 2018 is done with fieldwork. Tomorrow will be spent visiting local areas of interest, and then we fly out of Las Vegas on Friday.

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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