Delaware mineralogical society

A Delaware 501(c)(3) non-profit earth-science educational organization


Symposium 2017

David J. Bohaska

Paleontologist, Collections Manager, The Smithsonian Institution

Abstract: 'Fossil Collecting at Calvert Cliffs'

Along the Chesapeake Bay's Calvert Cliffs area lies a stretch of marine-fossil-laden beach, which is affected by the tides. Accessible during certain hours (at low-tide), collectors can find well-preserved examples of scallops, Turitella, and shark's teeth, that have weathered from the clay/silt strata above.

Three geologic formations from the Miocene (6-20 mya) host countless specimens to collect, study, and enjoy for generations to come. Join us for a special presentation on fossils that you can collect from the accessible public areas of the bay.

Photo by Smithsonian Institution

Photo by F. Grady
Illustration of Bohaskia monodontoides by Carl Buell


David J. Bohaska is a Museum Specialist in Vertebrate Paleontology. His focus is on fossil marine mammals of the Tertiary from the mid-Atlantic coast of North America.

Dave has worked at the Smithsonian since 1989, first as a research assistant and then as part of the collections management team for the Department of Paleobiology at NMNH. Previously, Dave worked at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland, as registrar, while also collecting fossil material from the nearby Calvert Cliffs. His love of paleontology started when he collected from the very same cliffs in 7th grade; his knowledge of the collecting history, historiography, paleontology and geology of the Mid Atlantic Coastal Plain is a boon to working with NMNH's fossil vertebrate collections from the region. Dave is also a peerless raconteur of the occasional hijinx and misadventures that color our activities. Dave's lifelong ambition is one day collect a perfect, intact Oligocene whale skull from Onslow Beach. (We're keeping our fingers crossed). It is also an unconfirmed rumor that Dave once was a backup singer for David Hodo in the Village People.

Mr. Bohaska has earned his B. A. from Rutgers in 1973, and his M. S. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1978.

He gives talks for area organizations who are interested in earth-science, and had recently graced us with his lecture on Cephalopods at the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

Having found his first fossil shark's tooth as a child along the shore of Chesapeake Bay at Calvert Cliffs, Dave's enthusiasm for learning about fossils and collecting had sparked a life-long interest. The old saying holds true, even today, that 'Today's avocation becomes tomorrow's vocation'.


David Bohaska's publications on ResearchGate
Contact at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum on Natural History
'A Little Piece of History' article, The Blaze
The Smithsonian's Pyenson Lab
'Fossil Collecting Sites at Calvert Cliffs', Maryland Geological Survey
'Smithsonian Scientists Describe a 'New' Fossil Whale'

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