Friday, April 6, 2012

Index Fossils of North America


At the beginning of the year, I read the first posting of 2012 on the well-crafted and thought provoking blog, Fossils and Other Living Things about the book Index Fossils of North America. This book is one of my favorite references in my small collection of paper paleontology books. My copy is a 5th printing from 1955 and what makes it so special is the personal touches added by the last owner. Inside the cover, written in black ink is the inscription "W.D. Struby 1955".


The owner carefully marked the book in colored pencils using a system: phylum names underlined in blue-green, class in red, order in purple, subphylum in light green, subclass in red dashed lines, and all others in darker blue. So that tells us the person was organized and methodical. What intrigues me is the type of fossils Mr. Struby was highlighting in the plates.  As he took an interest in a genus or species, he would draw a green border around those figures and write the genus name (see picture later in posting).


As I began to use the book for help with identifications, it became apparent that we both looked at the same types of fossils.  Did he live in my area to be looking at similar brachiopods, trilobites, and crinoids? Of course, not all the fossils appear to be from the Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee area.

Illustrations he marked covered a wide variety of fossils as the Triticites fusulinidae, sponges Astrospongia and Recepticulites, Conularia, coral Hexagonaria, blastoid Pentremites, brachiopods Hebertella, Platystrophia, Pentameroides, Dictyonella, to name a few, Cyclonema gastropod, and trilobites Cryptolithus and Dalmanites. Many more fossils are highlighted and not all are ones I collected or even heard of but in general our fossil interest overlapped.


As with the fossils I find, there are many unanswered questions about previous owner who over 56 years penned his name to this book. Similar to the fossils I encounter, there are many questions that arise that will never find answers as the past has scattered that information like dust in the wind.


2 comments:

Tony Edger said...

Great post. Treasure your copy of Index Fossils. It's an amazing thing when a reader's marginalia enhances a book. The only writing in my copy of Index Fossils is the previous owner's name written in precise block letters on the front flyleaf.

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate marked-up books, it's cool to find one signed by someone you've heard of, or can track down. I managed to score a signed copy of Joseph Cushman's "Foraminifera: their classification and ecomonic use" (a 2nd edition, but still nice, IMO). Did you try googling the name? It appears W.D. Struby was a geologist in Oklahoma who ran an oil company, Boradi Petroleum. He died in 1983, according to his son's Linkedin page.

--Howard