Wednesday, 18 December 2002


This lovely Lower Miocene nautiloid is Aturia angustata collected on the foreshore near Clallam Bay, Olympic Peninsula, northwestern Washington. 

I have been exploring Washington State for many years. It is rugged, windswept and has amazing fossil exposures all along its northern edge. The area goes by the name of the Olympic Peninsula and it is a wilderness playground. The sites I usually visit are Majestic Beach for its rare but prized fossil whale bone.

Further west are the beach exposures that have fossil echinoids in matrix and Ghost shrimp claws in concretion. There is a clay mine that holds wonderful nautiloids like the creamy Aturia you see here. Sometimes they are cemented together and come out whole. Sometimes calcified and show yellow, brown and white when you hold them to the light. Further up are the beach exposures along Clallam Bay.

Aturia is an extinct genus of Paleocene to Miocene nautilids within Aturiidae, a monotypic family, established by Campman in 1857 for Aturia Bronn, 1838, and is included in the superfamily Nautilaceae in Kümmel, 1964.

Aturia is characterized by a smooth, highly involute, discoidal shell with a complex suture and subdorsal siphuncle. 

Their shells are rounded ventrally and flattened laterally; the dorsum is deeply impressed. The suture is one of the most complex within Nautiloidea. It has a broad flattened ventral saddle, narrow pointed lateral lobes, broad rounded lateral saddles, broad lobes on the dorso-umbilical slopes, and a broad dorsal saddle divided by a deep, narrow median lobe. 

The siphuncle is moderate in size and located subdorsally in the adapical dorsal flexure of the septum. Based on the feeding and hunting behaviours of living nautiluses, Aturia most likely preyed upon small fish and crustaceans. It is well worth exploring the exposures at Clallam Bay. The local clay quarry is on private land so you would need to seek permission. I have also seen calcified beauties of this species collected from river sites within the Olympic Peninsula range, though I have not explored these myself.

Friday, 15 November 2002


What inspires us to explore the world? Sometimes it is the area in which we live, the encouragement of those we love blended with a natural curiosity. The two pivital players in my life were and are my grandfather and father. Both wonderful naturalists in their own right. The world was our playground.

That legacy carries on in the like-minded community of those I write, kayak and fossil collect with. Amazing people who fill me with wonder as they take in the beauty, rugged strength and delicate balance of this imperfect yet utterly perfect world.

Wednesday, 19 June 2002

Wednesday, 5 June 2002


Eleven elite paleo enthusiasts were flown into the Tyaughton area near Castle Peak north of Goldbridge 007-style in a shiny new Jet Ranger helicopter. We were interested in the local geology and fossils from the Jurassic/Triassic exposures high in the alpine. Camping at about 7,500 ft, we were treated to all four seasons and some great collecting over the course of the week.

Past trips have included grizzlies at close quarters. This trip we saw fresh tracks and scat, but the bears were actively avoiding our camp, just leaving enough evidence to give us the heads up that this is their territory.

Over the course of the week we collected beautiful marine specimens and saw a buck with a sexy set of horns, flocks of Franciscans and a majestic lone wolf.

The area is home to active research by UBC paleontologist, Louise Longridge and boasts abundant marine fauna - ammonites, bivalves, belemnites and have a chance to see the Triassic-Jurassic boundary – a rare treat.

As with all fossil collecting, our search for treasure has a higher goal. All of our finds are lovingly photographed, catalogued and available for study. If fossils are your thing, visit to find a local society and get on out there.

Originally published at

Wednesday, 24 April 2002

Sunday, 21 April 2002

Thursday, 14 March 2002

Wednesday, 13 March 2002

Sunday, 3 February 2002

Sunday, 27 January 2002

Thursday, 24 January 2002