Fossil Collecting in the North Sulphur River, TX

The North Sulphur River runs eastward north of I-30 in northeastern Texas.
There are multiple bridges across the river. Each bridge crossing offers access to the river, albeit not
without scrambling. The simplest and easiest access is the TX Route 34 bridge north of Ladonia.
The kind people of Ladonia have established a small park at the bridge where you can park and there are Texas sized
stairs down to to the river bed. The drawback is that this section sees the most traffic and is a bit picked over in between
periods of high flow.

Fossils can be found all along the path of the river. The intermittent nature of the water flow creates large gravel bars
interspersed with shallow pools of water. It can get very hot in the river bottom. There is no shade so BYOB, the gravel bars serve only gravel.
Be prepared to wade through the pools of water as the banks are steep and overgrown and it is faster.
I never saw any snakes, just lots of spiders.

IMHO, this site is very suitable for children. On the down side, the fossils are not profuse. They may get bored.
On the up side, they will have a ball playing in the water, tossing stones and splashing around, etc.

When looking for fossils, do not become too distracted as... BIGFOOT has been sighted in the river bed!

At the time, I was unaware of the danger so I spent a whole day in the river bed.

The fauna is almost entirely marine, including ammonites, oysters, snails and vertebrate bone fragments and teeth.
The fossils are mixed in with lots and lots of gravels and shale mud. This is typical of the surface in the river bottom.
All of the fossils are in the gravel bars. I have not found anything in the banks.

This is one of the "red zones", layers of red shale or sandstone from which the black phosphatized fossils such as
the straight shelled ammonites and the small bivalves and gastropods originate.

Red zone ammonites.

Small bivalves and a gastropod.

Some vertebrate finds. Most bones at this locality are from Mosasaurs.

A jaw section with teeth.

Another smaller jaw section.

A shark tooth and another tooth, yet unidentified.

This is the result of my searching at three different bridge crossings, FM2675, Rt 28 in Ben Franklin and Rt 904.
All of the fossils were found in the river bed, nothing was found in situ.

Lots of river worn petrified wood but no sign of Bigfoot...

After a hard day of hunting, try dinner at the Catfish restaurant in Pecan Gap.
Good food, local color and a price that can't be beat!

My thanks to the Central Texas Paleontological Society for their hospitality!

Also check out the website of the Dallas Paleontological Society.
They publish a collector's guidebook on the North Sulphur River fauna.

Questions? E-Mail me:

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