After driving for a couple of hours, crawling under a barbed wire fence, walking about a quarter of a mile through muddy, bee-infested ground, and stepping over cacti, there it was, Waurika Pond. This wasn’t your average pond, of course. Waurika Pond had dried out long ago (millions of years ago), and, incredibly, its surface was covered in fossils. There were lots of fossils from way back in the Permian (252 to 299 million years ago), before the age of dinosaurs.
Our friend Carl, who suggested we go to the Waurika Pond, helped us identify many of the fossils we found. We found 2 teeth from an Eryops, which is a type of giant amphibian. We also found some other amphibian or reptilian skull fragments, teeth, and jaws. A dimetrodon is often mistaken for a dinosaur with scaly skin and a sail on its back, but it is a synapsid (humans are synapsids too). We found some fragments of the spines from its sail.
There were also some non-bone fossils including 2 spiral-shaped, shark coprolites (also known as fossilized poo). The big thing (which was actually small) was the shark teeth! As opposed to the ones we found at Big Brook, these had 2, 3, and sometimes 4 prongs! Some of the teeth were really tiny and could fit on our fingertips, while others were pretty big. All of them were an unusual purple-ish color!
Not only were there fossils, there was a lot of living wildlife. There were cows around the area, but not in the lake itself. Speaking of feces, there were several dung beetles, rolling actual dung balls up the side of the dried pond. There were owl pellets all over the place; we found at least 4 with nearly complete rodent skeletons in them. Two collared lizards ran over our lunch bag on two legs before hiding under some rocks. While we were watching the lizards, we found a whole snake skin and no snake, fortunately. On the mammal side of things, we saw a fox on the way in and a rabbit while we were leaving. The trek to get through the mud was difficult, but it was definitely worth it. If you’re ever in Oklahoma, you should make a trip to Waurika Pond!