At 8:00 am we were fed, packed and loaded into vans for our two hour ride east to Lago Bayano, a large reservoir where we hoping to find shark teeth and possible small rodent fossils.
We arrived at the small village and police checkpoint called Madungandi right around 10 am and proceeded to rent enough boats to transport 20 people to various islands. We divided ourselves into three groups- each group having a mix of experienced and inexperienced fossil diggers, equipment and GPS units. We were all hopeful that we could find fossils to help with Victor Perez’s research work.
After about a 30 minute boat ride (viewing cormorants and herons) we arrived at the first island on our agenda. Bruce McFadden gave us clear directions, “look around for 30 minutes and if you don’t find anything-move on to the next island”. After about 10 minutes, it was clear that we needed to move on.
We reloaded into the boat and got to the next island. We walked a short distance until we found a section of the beach generously littered with pebbles. Gary Morgan, got down on his knees and started peering at them and within a minute he came up with a shark tooth! Eureka! We had found a great location! We spent 3+ hours sifting through the pebbles and sand of what we joyfully named, Stumpy Beach, for the two different stumps that flanked either side of our pebble laddered beach front that was also generously littered with dead fish carcasses!
All members of my team and everyone on the trip had a very successful day of fossil gathering. We found many shark teeth or various sizes, species and probably ages. We also found numerous bone fragments, crocodile snoot and we even found teeth which we believe are Homo sapien!?
We returned back to the starting village in our boats around 4:00 to start our two hour drive back to the hotel in Panama City.
Upon our return, we had about 30 minutes to clean up and prepare ourselves for our first poolside chat. Here we enjoyed beverages and snacks and discussed our day in the field, reflected on papers and talks that we had attended and discussed the article we are reading about the Gatun formation that we will visit tomorrow. We ended the poolside chat around 7:30 with everyone ready to break up and get dinner! It has been a long, highly successful day here in Panama!