A New Fossil Site in Alabama
On our trip home from Memphis, we took a new route across Alabama. We drove Hwy 78 to Birmingham, and then south on the interstate to Montgomery. From there, we took Hwy 231 south to I-10, and from there, it was a straight shot home. Very nice drive, with no bad traffic. They have extended Hwy 78, exposing some wonderful new road cuts. At the exit for Hwy 22, we stopped to look around.
New road cuts are always fun, because you have no idea what you will find. If you look carefully, you can almost always find something interesting, and this one held some very nice surprises.
The limy shale was hot from the sun, but was easy to look through. There are some layers with lots of tiny mica flakes, which also have carbonized plant fossils in them. Very sparkly and easy to find. Most of the plant remains are small bits, but I managed to find a few large stems, a seed, and some pieces of leaves. We did not stay long, as it was HOT, but I suspect that with more time, some very nice fossils will come from this site.
I noticed several spider webs which looked like Black Widow webs. Sure enough, a closer look showed that each one had a large, black, shiny spider, with that characteristic red hour glass. Road cuts are good places to find them, so be careful when you are looking for fossils. They are not going to jump out and attack, but if you accidentally stick your hand into their home, they will defend themselves.
The fossil plants are carbonized, and are easy to spot. We found more in the higher part of the cut, west of the exit. If you are going to visit the site, be aware that it is on the side of the highway. Don't dig, as the rocks are very loose, and the highway department frowns on people messing up their road cuts. You should be able to find plenty of fossils by surface collecting. Be sure to obey local laws and don't leave trash.