Wednesday, April 19, 2006

About that sea monster

This morning I went beachcoming. It was low tide and we've had some high seas lately, so it was a great time for it. I found a bunch of stuff. Here are the best bits. The tooth in the middle is the best thing I've found on a beach ever, and possibly the best thing I've found period. It's clearly mammalian, probably the canine of a sea lion. I've got a friend who works on marine mammals, so I'll ask him for a definitive ID. Stay tuned.

If you're wondering about the odd bit up in the left corner, it's a piece of granodiorite or some near relative. Slow cooling intrusive igneous rock, at any rate. I kept finding little pieces, which was odd. There are exposed plutons around Morro Bay--the eponymous Morro, Spanish for rock, refers to the hundreds-of-feet-tall igneous plug that sticks up out of the beach like God dropped his bowling ball. But that's more than a hundred miles south of here. All the land around here is uplifted Miocene sandstone and other shallow marine junk, including some conglomerates. Then I found a lime-sized chunk of conglomerate with, ta-da, pieces of granodiorite in it. Some long-lost batholith was exposed and eroded and shed those pebbles, which fell into the ocean with a bunch of sand and gravel and ended up as conglomerate, which was itself uplifted and eroded and has now shed this complicated little piece of history on the beach down the street from my apartment. Cool, huh?

I see that I forgot to include a scale bar. The tooth is about an inch and a half long. I'm still pissed at myself for dumping all of these things into my pocket together. That's how the holes got into the sand dollar, which was flawless when I plucked it from the beach. Oh well. Thursday morning London will be at daycare and the tide will be out.

UPDATE: Uh, yeah. My "clearly mammalian" tooth turned out to be nothing of the sort.


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