Monday, December 31, 2012

Viewing 3-D Fossil Images


Back in October 2012, the British Geological Survey has posted an experimental video on YouTube with 3-D fossil images using red/blue colors. The video lasts over 3 minutes and features over 10 fossils.
In order to look at the video one needs some 3-D glasses. You can make a pair using a PDF template found at NASA's STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) web site.

I created a pair using the following materials
  • card stock paper with printer to print out template
  • clear transparency (I used transparent plastic sheet protectors)
  • blue Sharpie marker
  • red Sharpie marker
  • scissors
  • pen knife (optional to cut out eye holes instead of using scissors)
  • Scotch tape

Some changes made to the original was to cut out a rectangular area next to the arm pieces to allow it to be taped together better. I drew dashed lines are on the template if you look close at the image.

The Geosciences Collection at the British Geological Survey also have a 3D image of trilobite on their blog site: http://gb3dtypefossils.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/oers-open-educational-resources_31.html

Sunday, December 30, 2012

3D Laser Scanned Fossil Images


The British Geological Survey has posted on YouTube a nice video showing some of the fossils from their collection of around three million specimens. Fossils contained in the collection range from time from the Neoproterozoic to modern times. At 51 seconds into the video the Precambrian Charnia masoni is shown which is Britain's oldest animal. Learn more about it this Wikipedia page.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas - Fossil Style


Merry Christmas to all! This years fossil greeting was made with a Silurian horn coral, snail and crinoid stem fossil, along with a microfossil star crinoid shape from the Ordovician and an Eocene foraminifera for an ornament.

Thanks to Dave for the foraminifera and Kenny for the star crinoid image.

Peace and prosperity to you in the new year of 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Eucalyptocrinus Stem

Here is a Silurian fossil crinoid stem section of the Eucalyptocrinus. Fossil was found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana, USA. It will be the trunk section of my fossil Christmas tree for this year. Visit the December 25 post to see it. Section is about 1.5 cm in length.
The subrings still have matrix on them but I liked the limestone patterns on the larger rings that showed up after I polished it. I wonder the alternating sized discs evolved that way? Maybe helped with water flow around the stem or increased flexibility of the stem in the water currents.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crushed Crinoid Calyx with Stem Section

Picture of a crushed crinoid fossil calyx with a long section of stem in Mississippian age rock found in southern Indiana, USA.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mississippian Period Crinoid Fossil

Picture of a crinoid fossil calyx with some of the arms and anal tube visible. Found in Mississippian age rock in southern Indiana, USA.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Goniasteroidocrinus and Death by Chloroform



Pretty much all of the time when researching fossils found in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky of the United States one finds text full of dry scientific descriptions and terms that are difficult to decipher in relation to the specimen being looked at. An exception was found while reading the Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History Seventeenth Annual Report S.S. Gorby State Geologist 1891 on pages 661-662 in the Palæontology section by S.A. Miller. In the area labeled Family Rhodocrinidæ, Goniasteroidocrinus tuberosus, Lyon & Casseday, Mr. Miller lists in the text that the entry about this particular fossil is:
 "for the purpose of correcting some erroneous observations that have been made about the arms and arm furrows, and for the purpose of showing that if the arms were turned up, they would be like the arms in other genera and species of crinoids, and that they differ only in the fact that they are directed downward with the arm furrows outward. The arm furrows are well illustrated in the figure, with the pinnules directed downward."

He then goes on to describe a plate placed in the Illinois Geological Survey Volume II on page 219 that shows this species but "is erroneous, because it should show a double series of plates below the bifurcations instead of a single series; and the arms are represented with the furrows against the calyx instead of being turned outward."

The mistake was compounded by a description based on that image by Wachsmuth & Springer in their article in the Proceedings of Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia, 1878, page 262.
Mr. Miller goes on to state:

I can not understand how any one ever came to the conclusion that a crinoid arm could rotate on its axis. The first plates in an arm are never transverse, beside if they were, the plates were always held in position by ligaments and if the arms were, the plates were always held in position by ligaments and if the arms were made to rotate the ligaments would necessarily be broken and the arms twisted off. But the facts effectually get away with the erroneous supposition and philosophy. 
I take pleasure in correcting any mistake [Ed. REALLY?] I find in the palæontological part of the Geological survey of Illinois, because I was an assistant on the work on the 7th volume and was frequently consulted by the late State Geologist, Prof. A.H. Worthen, in regard to palæontological subjects and received numerous courtesies from him, during many years of friendly intercourse. I was also the personal friend of Prof. Meek, who adopted and published the first new variety of fossils I described nearly twenty years ago. There is no palæontological work with which I have more cause to be familiar than with that contained in the Geological Survey of Illinois. And yet, in a recent diatribe, by an English schoolmaster, named P. Herbert Carpenter, I am told that "It is not too much to expect" that I should make myself acquainted with the "Illinois Geological Reports." 

What caught my eye was the talk about a diatribe by an English schoolmaster. So I looked up the name on the Internet and found an entry for Philip Herbert Carpenter on Wikipedia. He was born in 1852 and educated at University College School, University College London, and Trinity College in Cambridge. He was a naturalist on several ocean expeditions in 1868, 1869-1870, and 1875. Dr. Carpenter was expert on  modern and fossil crinoid morphology.

As it turns out Dr. Carpenter probably never saw Mr. Miller's comments as the survey was not published till 1892 and Dr. Carpenter killed himself on October 21, 1891. The doctor died as described on Wikipedia as "by self-administration of chloroform during a bout of temporary insanity caused by chronic insomnia." Yikes! This sounds like something like what happened to super-star singer Michael Jackson. Trying to get some rest by the use of a potent drug that can kill if taken too much of.

Sadly, according to this article from March 1892 entitled "Sleeplessness and Suicide", he left a widow and 4 young children.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eucalyptocrinus elrodi Crinoid

Eucalyptocrinus elrodi crinoid calyx fossil found in Clark County Indiana USA. Not the best of specimens but you can see in the above picture the small raised dots that make up the distinct texture of this species. It is from the Middle Silurian Period. It is listed as a new species in the Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History Seventeenth Annual Report S.S. Gorby State Geologist 1891 on pages 650-651. It is listed as similar to the Eucalyptocrinus cælatus.

The illustrations listed below are from Plate VII Figures 9-10. They are described as:
"Found in the Nigara Group, at Hartsville, Indiana, and now in the collection of Prof. S.S. Gorby. The specific name is in honor of Dr. Moses N. Elrod, a prominent physician, ardent collector and well known palæontologist of Hartsville, who was the first to discover this species and point out the fact that it is distinct from all others and undescribed. "



See a previous blog post for additional images of this species.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Naming Fossils

While doing some research on Indiana crinoid fossils, I came across a section in the Indiana Department of Geology and Natural Resources Seventeenth Annual Report by S.S. Gorby State Geologist 1891 about naming fossils. At the beginning of the report, it lists the assistants to the state geologist including Geologist Moses N. Elrod and Palæontologist S.A. Miller. Pages 611-686 in the report is the section entitled Paleontology By S.A. Miller.
In his preliminary remarks, Mr. Miller ends with a discussion on how fossils are named. For my own reference, I am creating this posting which summarizes what he wrote about the naming process. Starting on page 613:

"Fossils are named in the same way that plants are named in botany and animals in zoology. Each one has a name consisting of two words - the first generic and the second specific. The generic name must always be a noun, a specific name when an adjective must be made to agree in gender with the generic name. The generic name should always be commenced with a capital letter, while the specific name never should be. For example, the generic name Orthoceras is derived from the Greek words, orthos (straight) and keras (horn); keras in Greek, is in the neuter gender, while orthis is feminine. Palæaster is from palaios (anient), aster (star); aster is masculine."

So if one was to name a fossil species after a person like the geologist mentioned above Moses Elrod, his name would be converted to the Latin genitive by placing the letter i at the end. Examples are the Silurian crinoid found in the Waldron Shale of Indiana Eucalyptocrinites elrodi and cephalopod from the same area called Gyroceras elrodi.



If an fossil is named after a place, then the locality would have an ensis added to its end. Such as the chain coral fossil named for Louisville, Kentucky USA Halysites louisvillensis.


However, if the place's name ends in an a or e these letters are dropped. Such as the trilobite found in Niagara, New York called Bumastus niagarensis.

The book goes on to say (page 614):
"When a specific name is a common noun the ending is not changed; for example, cuneus, a wedge, would be written Orthoceras cuneus, Orthis cuneus, and Palæaster cuneus. It will be seen, the rules of nomenclature are not difficult or hard to learn, and they are the same in all branches of Natural History."
Example: Hippocardia cuneus (rostroconch fossil) found in the Devonian Jeffersonville Limestone of Louisville, Kentucky USA.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lichenalia concentrica Bryozoan Fossil

Lichenalia concentrica bryozoan fossil found in the Waldron Shale (Silurian Period) of Clark County, Indiana USA. Listed on Plate 5 Figures 1-10 in Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History Eleventh Annual Report John Collett State Geologist 1881.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unidentified Crinoids

Unidentified crinoid fossils found in southern Indiana. Mississippian Period was the time of their existence. These remains are a monument to a violent end to these unique animals. Sorry no scale yet for these fossils.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Silurian Caryocrinites Cystoid Fossil

A relatively large fossil cystoid is pictured here. It is probably a Caryocrinites persculptis which is found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana, USA. The creature dates back to the Middle Silurian Period. One side of the fossil is coated with pyrite. It has not been cleaned yet and measures about 3 cm long. I used Weeks Trilobites web site for this identification with this web page. He has a stunning specimen with intact feeding arms and stem on this site shown at this link. WOW!




Illustrations are from Plate V (Figures 9-10) Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History Seventeenth Annual Report S.S. Gorby State Geologist 1891. The fossil shown is identified as a new species called Caryocrinus indianensis with figure 9 being described as azygous side view and figure 10 view of the summit. It was collected by J.F. Hammell in the Niagara Group in Jefferson County, Indiana.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fossil Illustrator John W. Van Cleve

Reading through Indiana Geological Annual Reports from the 1800s reveal the hard work of individuals who studied fossils and documented them. In a way, as people today document geological and paleontological discoveries and information on the Internet, past researchers toiled away in a simpler yet more challenging media environment to leave their mark on these branches of science.

While reading the Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History Eleventh Annual Report John Collett State Geologist 1881 in the Paleontology section entitled Fossils of the Indiana Rocks (No. 2) by C. A. White, M.D. Washington, D.C. is a letter from Dr. Julius S. Taylor to Indiana State Geologist John Collett describing the work of his deceased friend John W. Van Cleve, Esq. of Dayton, Ohio. The fossil illustrations were to be part of a fossil coral publication in 1847 but the work was delayed and was never completed when Mr. Van Cleve died in 1858. Below is the letter found in the annual report (page 401):

Kankakee, Ill., June 8, 1881
Prof. John Collett, State Geologist of Indiana:
DEAR SIR: -The engraved plates of geological specimens which I have loaned to you for publication in the Indiana State reports were the production of my friend, the late John W. Van Cleve, Esq., who drew and engraved them to accompany a work on fossil corals which he had prepared for publication, but died before accomplishing it.
Mr. Van Cleve was born in Dayton,Ohio, June 27, 1801, and lived in that city continuously until his death, which occurred September 6, 1858. He was a man of sterling integrity and marked ability, and was greatly honored and respected by his fellow-citizens for the excellencies of his character and his liberal public spirit.
I had the good fortune to become acquainted with him in 1838, and to enjoy his intimate friendship until his death. He was an ardent student of geology, and much of our intimacy consisted in out joint study of this absorbing science. His acquirements were such in that study, that if he had been ambitious of distinction, he might have stood in the foremost rank of the geologist of that day; but he was naturally of a retiring disposition  and above all, he disliked mere notoriety. In everything he did he was careful and thorough, and in addition to his ability as a geologist, he possessed such skill as an artist and engraver, that he was able to delineate the objects he studied with great truthfulness.
After the death of Mr. Van Cleve, his nephew, Mr. Thomas Dover, presented me with these plates, because of my long friendship with his uncle; and I am especially glad that an opportunity has at last occurred to do honor to the friend I loved so well, by having at least a portion of the work published upon which he bestowed such long and patient labor.
Your friend,
JULIUS S. TAYLOR
Dr. White makes some comments in the report about this work:
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Van Cleve did not publish his work at the time prepared it, as it would for that time have been a very complete one, and also almost the only work on the fossil corals of North America; for it was prepared before the great and standard works of Edwards & Haime, Hall, Billings, Nicholson, and others had appeared, and when that of Dana had only just been published... we can only regret that the author of that work did not live to reap the fruit of his labors, and give our testimony to the zeal and ability which the unpublished work of the dead naturalist shows that he possessed."

Below are two sample illustration of Halysites catenulata found on Plate 46 Figures 4 and 6.


Last is an image of chain coral fossil found in Louisville, Kentucky that is similar to the ones in the illustration.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pterinea brisa? Pelecypod Fossil


This image shows what appears to be a Pterinea brisa? pelecypod fossil. It was found in the Silurian age Waldron Shale layer of Clark County, Indiana, USA. It has not been prepped yet but has very distinctive lines  outlining its growth pattern during the creatures short life.

Identification is based off of images from illustrations from Plate 28 (Figures 7-9) Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History Eleventh Annual Report John Collett State Geologist 1881. First image is Plate 28 Figure 7 and the second is Plate 28 Figure 9. Species name by Hall and referred to in his publications of 1867, 1870, and 1879.



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Glyptaster? Crinoid Calyx

Fossil shown appears to be some sort of species of Glyptocrinus or Glyptaster crinoid. Specimen was found in the Silurian Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana. Below are illustrations from Plate 13 (Figures 1-9) Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History Eleventh Annual Report John Collett State Geologist 1881.

UPDATE: Thanks to Nathan for pointing out this fossil has a new name. Thanks to Kenny for finding names it might be. The Indiana State Museum has a picture in their collections database of a crinoid called Dimeracrinites occidentalis (Glyptaster). It might be this or maybe a Melocrinus oblongus shown on this web site or the Dimerocrinites inornatus shown at this web page.
Top row on plates are identified as Glyptaster inornatus, Hall (1863,1879) and the second row is Glyptocrinus carleyi, Hall (1863,1879). I wrote about a similar specimen back in January 2011. See posting here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Unidentified Crinoid Calyx Fossil

This crinoid calyx fossil is not identified. It was found in southern Indiana and is from the Mississippian Period. For reference, the Coca-Cola bottle cap is about 2 cm wide.