These pictures are not great but this 9 section snail fossil is amazingly intact. The fossil was found in Speed, Indiana in the Jeffersonville Limestone of the Devonian Period. It appears to be a Loxonema pexatum snail fossil.
According to their literature, an optical microscope achieves a usable image at magnification of 100 times and can go up to 1000 times (20 micrometers). The ASPEX Personal Scanning Electron Microscope can image an object to 25 nanometers (nm) and has a scanning range of 100 nm to 5 mm. They go on to stress the resolution is not the only variable to consider when analyzing a specimen. SEMs provide a more depth-of-field than optical microscopes.
There are a wide range of applications SEMs can be used for and not just in the research laboratory. ASPEX makes an application for forensics (e.g. like a real world CSI) specifically Gunshot Residue (GSR) analysis. Other applications that can take advantage of SEM analysis: industrial production quality control, metal quality measurements, aerospace/defense maintenance prediction, and the pharmaceutical production.
All and all this is a great opportunity for amateur paleontologists. I keep wondering what items would I like to see: foraminifera, scolecodont tooth, ridge in cornulite tube, small fluorite crystals, pyrite crystal, growth lines on modern snail shell, crinoid stem segment or a pore of a bryozoan. So many possibilities in the microscopic world to explore!
One needs to remember that unlike optical microscopes, SEMs image in grayscale so no color output.
Well, I encourage those interested in exploring this generous offer made by ASPEX Corporation and check out the images already displayed at their website.
How to Participate in the "Send Us Your Sample" Campaign
1. Download and print this form from the ASPEX website.
2. Fill out the form and mail it along with the sample to be scanned:
ASPEX Corporation Free Sample Submissions 175 Sheffield Dr. Delmont, PA 15626
3. Once ASPEX has completed the scan, the images and report will be posted on ASPEX's website here.
Note: It should take about 2 weeks [UPDATE: 05/17/2010 I received the results from the fossil of an Ordovician Period worm tube. See the results at this post.] for the results to post to the ASPEX website, and the submitters will be notified via e-mail. If you want your sample returned, please say so on the submission form.
Remember to follow common sense on sending material to be scanned and also follow all postal regulations for shipping specimens through the mail.
After an earlier interpretation that these fossils may be worm jaw fragments, I have been pointed in the direction that these are trilobite fragments. It appears that the Kope Formation of the Upper Ordovician Period has some other small trilobites than just the Cryptolithus. Two other tiny trilobites found in this formation are the Acidaspis and Meadowtownella (akaPrimaspis). The trilobites appear to be related to each other and were quite small and spiny. These fragments all show small bumps and broken spines on their edges. See Marc Behrendt article Trilobites of the Cincinnati Region on his website.
Also check out the Dry Dredgers website of Dan Cooper's Acidaspis photos at this web page.
Meadowtownella (aka Primaspis) trilobite images are on the Dry Dredgers website as well at this web page.
All images while not labeled are at 40x magnification.
The Mid-America Paleontology Society (MAPS) fossil expo is coming up March 26-28, 2010. This society is one of the few who focus just on fossils. Click on the logo above to visit their very nice website. I like their color scheme and images.
Dr. Robert Frey of Ohio will give the talk The Age of Nautiloids in the American Midwest: The Platteville Fauna in Illinois and Wisconsin on Friday, March 26, 2010 at 7 PM.
Don "The Fossil Guy" Johnson will discuss Laura the Hypacrosaurus and Other Duck-billed Dinosaurs on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 10 AM.
MAPS member Bill Desmarais on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 11 AM will present a program about dinosaur research expeditions in Alberta, Canada.
University of Iowa professor Charles Newsom will help visitors with their fossil identification at 2 PM on Saturday, March 27, 2010.
Curator of University of Iowa Geoscience Repository will talk about storing, organizing, protecting, and documenting a fossil collection at 3 PM on Saturday, March 27, 2010.
Cornulite worm tubes found in the Kope Formation. These small creatures existed in the Ordovician Period. Typically, I find them attached to brachiopod shells specifically in the ridges. So it was change to find them by themselves in the gravel I was screening for scolecodonts. Fossils found in Carroll County, Kentucky.
Okay, I have been a little off on the scoledont identifications recently but this one I am pretty sure of. It is the only jet black fossil I found have viewing tablespoon after tablespoon of gravel. It is from the Kope Formation of Carroll County, Kentucky. This creature existed in the Ordovician Period.
Looking through all the Kope Formation material I did find over 15 Cornulites tubes. I will post images of the smaller ones soon.
The jaw appears to be broken off at both ends. Image taken with microscope set to 40x.
UPDATE: My original post listed the fossils in the following pictures as conodonts. After some feedback from Shamalama and Herb, they informed me that some are trilobite cephalon fragments and others are scolecodonts. I have edited this post to reflect the correct information. Okay, I had to correct this post a second time since I assumed the trilobite was a Cryptolithus when it appears to be a Acidaspis.
These first three fossils are scolecodonts. Fossils found in the Kope Formation of Carroll County, Kentucky usually consist of just their jaw remains. These fossils date to the Ordovician Period.
These last three images are of cephalon (front part) of atrilobite (maybe Acidaspis?). The Kope Formation location I was at has quite a lot of larger fragments. See the comb like structure fooled me into thinking they were broken off teeth. I need to be more careful next time!
My search for Ordovician Period microfossils led me to this little jewel. It appears to be the spine of an echinoid. The tube size is about 0.4 mm in diameter and 1.6 mm in length. The pores filled with a gray matrix are elliptical in shape and length wise rows that cover the cylindrical shape. If the pores were more round I might guess this is some sort of byrozoan.
Echinoids existed in the Ordovician Period but I do not have an identification for this fossil. Of course, I am just speculating this is what it is based on Jurassic spines I have seen. The microscope is opening up another world of Kentucky fossils.
This fossil was found in Bullitt County, Kentucky and might be the Grant Lake Formation.
Here is a closeup of a Foerstephyllum colonial coral fossil for the Upper Ordovician Period. It was found in Louisville, Kentucky. Notice the septa lines in individual coral cells. These Kentucky fossils are quite beautiful and it is very nice when you can find them with exposed septa.
These next two pictures are of another Upper Ordovician Period colonial coral fossil found with the previous fossil. Its cell walls are in a different pattern.
Images of two different specimens for a foraminifera called Peneroplis planatus. These remains were found on Levante Beach, Benidorm, Spain. The creatures exist in present time. Images taken with a Kodak Easyshare LS273 camera using an Orion microscope at 40x magnification. While the microscope does not have model number on it, I believe it is the S400 which is listed on amazon.com for about $60.
Thanks to Michael Hesemann for the specimens and his great website that makes identifications a much easier task.