Syria is crumbling, Iran is simmering and Greece has been brought back from a financial collapse that would have echoed through financial halls around the world.  Instead of analyzing the wins and losses that affect our lives either directly or indirectly, it’s time to take a time out and allow me to return to a world I lived in for several years. When Scott told me that I could write on whatever I wanted to, he allowed me literary license to pick my own subject.  This is one of those stories. 

Years ago I was upgrading four pump stations along the ARAMCO  east-west pipeline.  This pipeline ran across Saudi Arabia from Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf to the Yanbu oil terminal on the Red Sea. A second line was being laid and we had to make major changes to the large pumps that pushed the oil along the seven hundred and fifty mile route. 

After several months in the desert the incessant heat was starting to ebb.  Highs were only about 105 degrees but the dreaded flies were starting to arrive.  If you left your vehicle and left the door open a coffee cup would fill with twenty-five or more flies in minutes.  It was not a good time to go wondering around the desert looking for buried relics from a time before man lived but that was exactly what happened. 

One of the supervisors assigned to the project came in and showed me a couple of fossils he had found.  Solid black and heavy in weight it told a story of a time when this part of the world was covered in water.  The shell material had been replaced with minerals, most likely some type of iron.  I got the location for the area where the fossils were found. 

At an altitude of almost a thousand feet and one hundred miles inland I entered a low area where the road dropped about forty feet.  I left the road and went about a mile into the desert and there was a small hill sticking up inside a canyon surrounded by limestone cliffs.  I climbed out and in the decomposing flaking shale material my first fossils appeared.  I dubbed the area the sunken sea and my first locations was nicknamed the tooth of time. 

I returned time and time again.  The sunken sea turned into  a twenty-five square mile exposure of a teeming underwater world that an NLU geologists told me was a geological period called the Eocene epoch.  After a few trips I was finding different varieties of shells at different locations, each location with a new nick name.  Then my friend Loren Schoenholtz joined me.  A large  raw boned German/Polish American, he had once been approached by a talent scout to try out as a double for John Wayne. 

Loren had asked about shark teeth.  I told him there were none.  Then he found the first and I discovered one later.  It’s all about focusing and all of a sudden they were everywhere.  The teeth was so intact that the enamel was still smooth.  Sting ray mandibles were also there.  Many of the sharks were the size of Great Whites and some as small as one or two feet.  Many enjoyable trips were made to the sunken sea for several years.  I took a large part of the collection and donated it to the ULM School of Geology.  In the old museum in Stubbs Hall a diorama of the desert with the fossils and teeth could be viewed.  

There was a surreal feeling as I stood on the Saudi Arabian canyon floor and imagined the hot clear waters with thousands of sharks and other fish swimming around while shell fish literally carpeted the ocean floor.


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