Davies discovers rare rudist clam

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Megan Davies came across a rare find during a Birmingham Paleontological Society dig in Sumter County on May 16. That find, a rudist clam, is being studied at the University of West Alabama, and will eventually find its way to a museum.

The specimen in question is exactly what it sounds like — a life form commonly limited to oceans and the gulf. Yet, its presence in Alabama is indicative of an environment not seen in thousands of years.

“Children in Selma, they don’t realize this was all under water,” said Megan Davies’ mother, Maggie. “They have never been to the ocean, but they’re walking on the ocean floor.”

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Though BPS member Nancy Lea says it is not common to find rarities on these digs, Megan Davies has found her fair share. In little more than a year, she has uncovered a mammoth tooth and a megalodon tooth. She was also present when 300 shark teeth were found a dig in Marion.

However, the rudist clam was a find that was almost missed five weeks ago.

“At first I thought it was a rock,” said Davies. “I had to go to the geologist to figure out what it was. I had no idea at first.”

Her first dig with Lea and the BPS sparked her interest in fossil hunting last year. It was her most exciting find to this point.

“I found something rare that’s hard to find in Alabama.”

UWA was as excited to receive the artifact as Davies was to discover it.

“They told us it’s extremely rare and they’re delighted to have one,” said Lea. “They will associate Megan’s name with it.”

The BPS is an active group of amateur fossil hunters who enjoy learning about or teaching the science of paleontology. The society has a dig once a month, and is eager to assists on digs by professional paleontologists.

Lea and Maggie Davies say there are a variety of reasons to become involved in BPS and archaeological digs, even for the outdoor-challenged.

“It’s going to increase your understanding of your appreciation of your own environment,” said Lea. “It makes you aware of the history of the area.”

“A rock is not a rock,” Davies added. “It’s not what it appears to be. I love that.”

A more prominent reason is the escape the outings can provide to participants.

“It’s the only time in your adult life you’re allowed to be a kid again,” said Davies. “You get to play in the dirt and your mamma’s not going to yell at you. You can yell, you can play and odds are, you’re going to find something that’s older than your boss.”