Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Surprise

Yeterday's field trip was a great experience; we had a pleasant bus trip, a delicious meal, and absolutly wonderful weather, in the high 60's. As I wore several layers, being unsure if the bus would be heated if it were chilly, I was totally comfortable all day. Even went without jacket and sweater at times! It was a spectacular day in all ways. One of the things I had forgotten about Chippokes Plantation is that it has the honor of being one of the oldest continuously farmed properties in the US. It has been operating since 1619. It is bounded by 2 other plantations, two creeks, and the James River, so it's size, 1403 acres, is unchanged since 1646 when the original 550 acre grant was expanded. This feature of being unchanged also makes it unique. This is the view, towards the James River, taken from the front door.

During our tour of the museusm and the mansion, we were told to look upstairs at the fossils of Chesapecten jeffersonius. The docent told us, if we visited the river beach, and if we looked, we could hunt for and possibly find specimens of this fossil, and could take ONE. Well, you know me, beaches and shells! That was almost a challenge.

Meet Virginia's state fossil, the scallop Chesapecten jeffersonius! It fittingly honors one of the state's most illustrious citizens -- Thomas Jefferson. This mollusc lived in the shallow waters of the continental shelf during the Late Miocene and Early Pliocene Epochs, some 4 - 5 million years ago. I am amazed at the size of the one I found, and that it is intact, both shells still connected. Many found halves, broken, or a few smaller ones, melded together. I was the only one to find one that looked as nice as the one in the mansion on display. To say the least, I was thrilled.

1 comment:

Connie Lapallo said...

Hi Joanna...I love this story and am happy to say I just learned something new about scallops (and you know I'm the scallop queen!) :) If I can work one of these beautiful scallops into the sequel, I'll do it, as Will's land was right next to his friend Captain Powell's land--which is Chippokes! And Capt. Powell will be in the sequel as well. What a beautiful state fossil we have.