Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Death in the Water

Death in the ancient waters that once covered the part of South Carolina now home to the Francis Beidler Forest was evident in the discoveries by summer campers at Lafarge Cement. Bones and vertebrae of long-deceased whales mixed with the ubiquitous sharks' teeth shed by the ancient predators. Today's 95+F temperatures coupled with high humidity threatened to drop any fossil hunters not drinking the water they carried to this former ocean.

Though the ocean has long since receded, water remains in sufficient quantities to form the Four Holes Swamp. A lack of rain has left the swamp relatively dry, but otters, raccoons, herons, and snakes hunt the small pools of water for water-dependent prey. The image shows a River Otter that, for some unknown reason, died beside one of those pools of water. The body was removed and placed in an area where decomposition and insects can clean off the skeleton. The skull will be saved for use in the education program. Undisturbed, the otter skeleton may have one day been found by a summer camper in the distant future studying ancient mammal species.

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