December, 2002

By Allan Lang

In the spring of 2002 my wife and I went to England with our friend Geoffrey Notkin, a writer, artist, and fossil collector. We visited the Natural History Museum, and met with curators in the meteorite and paleontology departments. We visited with Dr. Richard Fortey, an eminent paleontologist and Merit Researcher with the Department of Paleontology. Richard is a world recognized authority on trilobites, and has written a number of highly-respected books including "Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution," and "Fossils: The Key to the Past."

I brought several eurypterid fossils with me on th plane to England from my quarry, and Geoff brought photos of our Sylvania, Ohio trilobite expedition from earlier in the year. Richard said, "Oh I must show these fossils to Andrew!" A few minutes later, we were introduced to a very charming young man — Dr. Andrew Ross — who is the Curator of Fossil Arthropods at the NHM, and his research associate, Mark Pointer. Andrew and Mark were very interested in the eurypterids that we had brought from the US, and invited us to see the NHM's arthropod collection. While their collection of European eurypterids was very impressive, there were only a few examples of American types (one of them was a specimen I had donated to the NHM in the 1980s). I suggested that Andrew and his colleagues consider a visit to my quarry when time permitted, as I wanted to make a substantial donation of material to the NHM. If Andrew was able to make the trip to the US to visit us, he would be able to select specimens for himself.

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Late in the year we received good news from Andrew: it would be possible for him to visit the US in December, along with Mark, and their friend Emma — an entomologist from the NHM. We invited them all to stay with us for several days, and examine our collection.

My friend Geoff met the NHM team in New Jersey in early December, and drove the approximately 250 miles to our facility. As luck would have it, heavy snow began falling that very day, burying the quarry and its as yet unfound fossil eurypterids. The time was not wasted, however, as I had many years' worth of specimens for Andrew and his team to examine. Andrew, Emma, and Mark spent several days going through our entire collection of eurypterid fossils, selecting specimens that they felt would be of particular value to the NHM collection. This was no small task, as we have been excavating here for over 25 years and have amassed quite a collection.

The specimens that were chosen had excess matrix removed in my workshop with the stone cutting saws. In the end, we donated nearly fifty specimens to the NHM. One of the curators said he didn't expect to see another donation of this magnitude in his lifetime.

After several days of work indoors, the snow let up and the sun came out. Geoff had been hoping all along to show our visitors the quarry itself, and persuaded me to fire up our ATVs, and try to make it — through the snow — up to the quarry. We had to get the bulldozer going first to clear the way. Several high speed attempts were then made on the ATVs before we were able to push through the snow piled up at the beginning of the trail that leads to the quarry.

It was extremely cold, but that didn't hamper the enthusiasm of our guests! Andrew, Emma, and Mark braved the terrible conditions, dug through snow, moved around some big plates, and all of them made some good finds. Soon after, the snow started falling again, and one of the ATVs died. I tried everything to get it going again, but in the end we had to tow it (and Geoff) back to the workshop.

t was our pleasure to have members of the NHM visit with us at Lang's Quarry, and we hope they will come visit again during warmer weather!

Dr. Andrew Ross' excellent article about his visit was published by the Natural History Museuem, London in their official magazine, Set in Stone, Volume 1, Number 2, (Spring, 20003).


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