Fossils In Colorado

This weekend we stopped a few places along route 160 between Walsenburg and Ft. Garland, CO in Costilla County. The layers of time demonstrated the
turmoil and upheaval that had displaced the ancient sea beds. Our book noted the types of fossils we might find…brachiopods, coral and gastropods-even pointing us to the layer in which to look.

It was no easy feat to climb to the layer… the Madera Shale breaks off in tiny, sharp-edged pieces that had piled up so thick over the years that it was like climbing a prickley sand dune. the tracks of previous hunters showed us a good place to begin our search.

Hanging onto the side, our eyes combed the surface for a trace of some ancient animal. there were a few bits and pieces here and there.
Remembering the volumes of fossils my Ohio homeland rocks contained, I was more than a little disappointed.

And then I spotted something…it just might be the characteristic grooves of a shell. The color was pale compared to the grey shale and it could be just a shard of the original animal, but my spirit lifted. I beckoned my husband to bring the rock hammer.

Ever so carefully, we worked to remove the rock that might hold a treasure. It would be tragic if we were responsible for the demise of a fragile remnant. We didn’t want to ruin the fragment we could see or any part of something that might be hidden below the surface. when we finally manged to pull the rock from the shale it was a near perfect Mucrospirifer Brachiopod.

My heart soared. We’d found an almost entire brachiopod and although it was small, it was beautiful. More importantly, it had shown itself to me. We found other bits and pieces that day, but it was this little guy that felt like a special gift. It had lain there all those millions of years, it had survived the violent earth changes that lifted its layer to a near vertical position, it had gradually weathered its way to the surface and quietly waited for my eyes to find it. And finally, it had been a wonderous moment shared with my special someone as we awaited its birth from the earth.

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