Tuesday, March 16, 2010


So, last week’s post happened a little bit on accident. I started out writing the post I am about to write now, but got sidetracked with explaining how I ended up in Mississippi for 10 years and decided to just run with it. It was a good sidetrack, though – and I’m glad it was inspiring to my fellow ADKOS bloggers! It’s been fun to re-hear the stories of how my besties met their hubbies!

After Adam and I got married, we lived in an apartment in Ridgeland, MS. Our building backed up to a little creek and some woods. This may sound charming, but don’t be misled. 1) The creek was either dry or full of icky brown water and 2) the woods were full, obviously, of bugs that wanted nothing more than to enter and overtake our home. I do not miss Mississippi roaches. At all.

Anywho, at some point a developer bought the land with the woods and, of course, cleared out all the trees to start building this neighborhood of duplexes. Because that’s what developers like to do – cut down perfectly good trees. But that’s not the point of this post. And I am getting to the point. I promise!

One lovely late afternoon, just for fun, Adam and I decided to go walk around in the newly-cleared-out dirt. As we walked, I began to pick up rocks and sticks and tell Adam that they were fossils or ancient artifacts – dinosaur tibias and pieces of prehistoric pottery, that sort of thing. I was trying to get a laugh out of Adam, and it worked. He looked at me like I was a weird-o and asked if I was feeling OK. After a few minutes of this I went to pick up what looked to be a small white rock, about the size of a grape. Except when I picked it up, there was more to the rock beneath the surface, buried in the dirt. So instead of getting a grape-sized rock, I ended up with more of a baseball-sized rock. As I brushed clumps of dirt off, the rock started to look…different. So I brushed some more dirt off and looked at it more closely. Then I asked Adam to look at it. It came to a point on one end, and had these weird serrated edges. And suddenly I knew that I had just found something. Something cool. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but it was SOMETHING. And Adam just kept saying, incredulously – I can’t believe you did that. I can’t believe you were joking around about fossils and actually found a freakin’ fossil.

Because, folks, I found a freakin’ fossil! I took it to work the next day and showed it to this older gentleman who worked as a runner at my office. He told me he knew someone at the Mississippi Geological Society who could probably tell me exactly what it was, so on my lunch break we went to their offices. They were pretty impressed and gave me lots of information on my find. Which, by the way, is a left upper tooth of the Giant Shark Carcharodon Auriculatus from the Eocene and Oligocene of Mississippi. I was given a copy of “Mississippi Geology”, Volume 7, Number 1 from September of 1986 which says:

“Teeth from many shark species can be found in [Mississippi’s] upper Cretaceous and Paleogene marine sequence. Generally, these teeth are less than two and a half centimeters (an inch) in length. Some can barely be seen without magnification. Exceptionally large teeth are rare in Mississippi…The impressive large shark teeth of the Jackson and Vicksburg groups are those of the primitive great white shark Carcharodon auriculatus. This must have been a huge and fearsome shark. Its teeth are often twice the size of the largest modern carnivorous shark, Carcharodon carcharias, the great white shark.”

The article also says that the tooth is anywhere from 35 to 42 million (MILLION!?!?!) years old. I wondered if maybe an entire fossilized shark was buried near where I found the tooth, but the geologists told me that was unlikely – the teeth of sharks are embedded in the gums rather than directly fixed to the jaw, and are constantly replaced throughout the shark's life. Multiple rows of replacement teeth are grown in a groove on the inside of the jaw and moved forward in a "conveyor belt"; some sharks lose 30,000 or more teeth in their lifetime. The rate of tooth replacement varies from once every 8–10 days to several months.

The whole experience is probably one of the more fun, exciting, interesting, and random things that has ever happened to me. I like to imagine that God was sitting in Heaven, listening to me joke about artifacts and fossils, smiling as he anticipated and orchestrated the moment I would, in fact, unearth a relic from one of his much earlier creations. It reminds me that God is so much more than just rules and judgment. He plans out special moments and interesting "coincidences" for us because he loves us and enjoys seeing us enjoy ourselves. He certainly knows how to make a memory!

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