Fossil-Finding Excursion Just a Day at the Beach


Courtesy of Ronda Wilson

Geology students stop to pose for a photo on McFaddin Beach during a field trip in 2017.

San Jacinto College South Campus Geology students will have the opportunity to hunt for fossils that are thousands of years old while on a semi-annual field trip Nov. 3 to McFaddin Beach.

McFaddin beach is located about an hour and a half from the South Campus and has a rich geological history. Fossils of animals that once lived in the Gulf thousands of years ago frequently wash up for students to discover when looking with a keen eye.

Geology Professor Ronda Wilson is leading the field trip. She explained, the beach’s shoreline used to extend hundreds of miles out and was home to massive, incredible organisms vastly different from what exists today. As an example, Wilson mentioned an extinct “armadillo-like creature the size of a Volkswagen Bug.”

Wilson led this trip the last couple of semesters and said it is a hit with participants time and time again.

“I like to see the students come and ask questions, and understand the geology of the area they didn’t even know before,” Wilson said. “The interest I get from the students is the key thing.”

During a recent class lecture, Wilson passed around several fossils she found on the beach, one of which is a toe bone from an animal that existed thousands of years ago.

Sophia Primera, one of Wilson’s students, said she is eager to go on the trip now that she understands the significance of artifacts that wash up.

“I wasn’t planning to go originally due to my schedule, but I will definitely be making time for it now,” she said.

The field trip to McFaddin Beach happens during each long semester, except in the case of adverse weather events, and while it is geared toward students enrolled in geology courses, students from all backgrounds and majors are welcome to participate. 

When asked to recall some of her favorite moments from previous trips, Wilson mentioned that someone makes a discovery on every excursion.

“One of the highlights (of a previous trip),” Wilson said, “was a student finding a woolly mammoth tooth.”

For more information, email [email protected]. Students interested in participating must fill out an emergency contact form and sign a photo release form.