I'm currently acquiring fossils from other parts of North America that are similar to the type I hope to collect here, during my fair-weather travels.  I find it easier to recognize my discoveries if I've already been introduced to others like them.  My special interest is the Triassic Period.

You can read more paleo-poetry and view more fossils on the next page. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have comments or would like to share some fossil-related information or links. I can always find space for new content! I would also love to hear from other paleo-poets out there. - Brenda


Dental Records

We hide gentle molars
in the back, unseen,
and grin with ready blades.

Frantic even in sleep,
we grind our blunt ivory
reminders of the forest.

Though we eschew leaves
now that we know blood,
the jaws remember.

PaleoPoetry - Notes from a Rock Nut!

I've been a rockhound and fossil collector for much of my life. Nova Scotia lends itself well to these activities, since our shorelines are rich in mineral specimens and there are numerous fossil sites readily accessible merely by walking along a beach. The constant tides erode the sea cliff and expose ledges beneath the shoreline, often uncovering fossils in the process. Higher on the Fundy cliffs, the Triassic-Jurassic Boundary, with its record of dramatic faunal changes resulting from a major extinction event, has provided a wealth of material. It can be studied in areas around the upper Bay of Fundy and inner Minas Basin, such as at Blomidon and Wasson's Bluff (near Parrsboro). My personal favorite site is on and near Rossway Beach, Digby County. It is little-visited and material is less common than at the better-known locations. But I do get my exercise, because it's a long walk around Red Head bluff, watched only by groups of seals out on the rocks. One must always be vigilant here, as elsewhere, for the Fundy tides are the highest in the world and can trap the unwary against the vertical cliff faces.

Coastal sites including Joggins, Brule, Point Aconi, Arisaig and Blue Beach are especially productive and have achieved worldwide fame among paleontologists.  Many small and rare early reptiles, fish and amphibians have been found in these places. These span periods ranging from Jurassic through Triassic to Carboniferous and back to Silurian (the latter is especially true of Arisaig). Associated with the coal fields in Cape Breton and the northern mainland are many Carbonferous fossils, particularly plants. Many renowned scientists have come to these various locales to pursue their investigations.


Parrsboro hosts a significant rock and mineral show every August and also has its own geological museum. A visit is highly recommended. Follow this link for more information. 







The Triassic Muck at Blue Beach, Nova Scotia


Specimen Hunters


We slop through Triassic muck,
print separate trackways.

Some now-unborn paleontologist
may chisel these parallel steps,

never knowing the barefoot swing
along tidal suck and pull. Never
hearing the dialogue of our eyes.

A crimson saltbroth crawls,
rises, drowns our ankles.  

We bring back no rewards                                                                                                                                                                     except soles red as henna:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  pharaoh and his sister-wife.

At sundown we challenge  

rockfalls from the morning,
scramble for evidence God 

may have come here first.

His nameless garden of dust     

awakens, but its coal ferns                                                                                       

shatter at the wind’s kiss. 

I stoop and study a fragment

before offering it to the sea.                                          
Veins fan into branches       

like throat-to-lung highways,    

though without any meat song.  

All flesh is cellulose and carbon.  

Yes,  even you -- my favorite carnivore, 

must accept this holy ash that makes us

one with each other and the dead .         





Sea cliff at Horton Bluff (Blue Beach) near Avonport, NS

Cape Blomidon is visible in the distance.






Rutiodon tooth  - species of phytosaur, an alligator-looking reptile from the Triassic period.

Bull Canyon formation, Arizona (can also be found in NS)

                     Darwin in a Jar

When Norris said that I should put some tail

hairs from my grey horse in a Mason jar,

cover with water and then let them stand,

I asked him, “What’s the point of that?” He said,

“You leave ‘em there, they’ll turn to little snakes

with spines and scales; with pinhead dots for eyes.”


I couldn’t comprehend how this might be,

yet badly wanted it to happen, so

I pulled some strands, then filled up my bottle

from Norris’s cistern and sealed them in.

A week went by, and eagerly each day

I lifted up my strange experiment.

The light played round and round; the silver swatch

rippled and spun. I saw it undulate

and dreamed of serpents rising from the sea.


But only with my shaking would they move.

No heads emerged, no pupils stared, no tongues

flicked at the fluid in their amnion.

Life came, though not for them: a coat of green

covered the follicles. Their algal wrap

denied my vision as it grew and spread

across the failing genesis. For no

god-finger sparked those passive molecules.


Then Norris mocked my gullibility.

“Just what were you expecting, silly girl?

You really think that something dead as hair

can change itself?” I shook my pride away

by climbing to the roof, and raised my arm

to throw that rotten and impotent thing.

It made a lovely arch, then fell and smashed

against the heliotrope like ash on suns.


Rhyncosaurides Brunswickii - late Triassic, Gettysburg Formation, Maryland