Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paleontology Mistakes in Mainstream Books

Recently, I posted about a mis-labeled modern brachiopod that was bought from a dealer. Today, I thought I would share some experiences of finding mistakes in some books I found in the library.

The first book is called ROCKS & FOSSILS A Visual Guide by Robert R. Coenraads (Firefly Books) published in 2005. The book has some great pictures and diagrams. What caught my attention was the picture of Devonian Period fossilized sponge. I found it while paging through library fossil books while trying to identify a white fossil on a darker rock that was seen on a trip I took south of Louisville. The area was marked as Mississippian or Carboniferous Period. The road cuts were showing just traces of fossils but this one small outcrop had some small branching coral heads.

The fossil I saw looked like the one found in this book on page 249 in the sponge section. It had this label "This fossil stromatoporoid was found on a Devonian reef structure near Golden in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This class was the most diverse before it went extinct." Well, I had not seen a fossil sponge like the one shown in the picture. So I asked a geologist from Canada about it and he said the picture looked like a coral. This information made me want to research some more. I referred to the book credits on page 304 and was somewhat surprised that the author used so many stock photographs.

One can see the fossil in question at the Corbis website: with the description "Favositids and Stromatoporoids fossils found on Devonian reef structure. Golden, Canada, Canadian Rocky Mountains." The picture was taken by Jonathan Blair in September 1987 and I think a geologist named Helmut Geldsetzer was identifying the fossils on site.

The picture in the book was cropped to only show the coral and not the sponge thus the issue I have with section of that book. It identifies a coral as a sponge which is not the case. So thanks to regular reader of this blog, Howard for detecting the issues with the image in this book.

Another book I found on a shelf not far away was the The Everything Family Guide to Washington, D.C. 3rd Edition by Jesse Leaf published in 2007. The issue I have with this book is part of its description of a section of the Smithsonian The National Museum of Natural History. In the section of the book that covers the First Floor Early Life section on pages 85-86, it states, "Some of the highlights of this exhibit include rare 530-year-old fossilized soft-bodied animals in shale, which were discovered by the fourth secretary of the Smithsonian in 1910".

This passage refers to Charles Doolittle Walcott who became secretary of the Smithsonian in 1907 and is credited for discovering the Cambrian fossils of the Burgess shale in Canada. Unless the author was viewing an exhibit on loan from the Creationist Museum, I believe they meant to write 530-million-year-old fossilized soft-bodied animals. The Cambrian Period occurred approximately 542-488 million years ago.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bryozoan Hallopora

This entry is about Ordovician Period bryozoans. When I talk to children at the science center about fossils and we are looking the bryozoan. I point out the name in Greek means "moss animal". Next we examine the fossil for small holes to see where each little animal or zooid lived.

The first one shown is called Hallopora dalei found in Covington, Kentucky.

The second is Hallopora ramosa found in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Carboniferous Bryozoan Fenestella

This picture is of a Carboniferous Period bryozoan called Fenestella membranacea. It appears to have been found in Algeria and is stored in museum in France.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dohmophyllum Coral

These pictures show some pictures of Dohmophyllum corals found in Eifel, Allemagne, Germany. They existed in the Middle Devonian Period.
This coral is a Dohmophyllum helianthoides (Goldfuss) from the Middle Devonian Period. It was found in Gerolstein, Allemagne, Germany.
Here is another Dohmophyllum helianthoides (Goldfuss) coral from the Middle Devonian Period. It was found in Eifel, Allemagne, Germany.

These fossils are all stored in the Museum of Natural History in Paris, France.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Elkinsia polymorpha

Here is a fossilized plant fossil on display at the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, Indiana (across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky).

It is called an Elkinsia polymorpha of the Late Devonian Period from West Virginia.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eridophyllum Coral

Recently found Eridophyllum coral from the Middle Devonian Period. Extracted from Jeffersonville Limestone in Louisville, Kentucky.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Recent Kentucky Coral Finds

This first two images of some sort of Pleurodictyum coral from the Jeffersonville Limestone found in Louisville, Kentucky. It is from the Devonian Period. From a recent expedition, I picked out of few corals that are more rare finds. I did not try to determine the species.

This next coral is of a Cladopora or Coenites coral from the Louisville Limestone of the Silurian Period.

This last one is some sort of Syringopora coral from the Devonian Period Jeffersonville Limestone.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Australian Plant Fossils

Here are some plant fossils that are on display at the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, Indiana (right across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky). The seed plant leaf Dicroidium acutifolium from the Middle Triassic Period. It was found in Dinmore, Queensland, Australia.

A seed plant leaf fossil called Dicroidium odontopteroides from the Late Triassic Period. It is from Dinmore, Queensland, Australia.

Seed plant leaves fossil call Glossopteris sp. found in the Illawarra Coal Measures. It is from the Late Permian Period. The fossil was found in Dunedoo, New South Wales, Australia.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brevispirifer gregarius

While at the Falls of the Ohio State Park over the weekend I went on a special hike that they only do when the dam spillway is closed off letting the fossils beds to be exposed more than normal. It is an a fun and long (about 3 hours) hike that can at times be precarious. One gets to walk across the mossy spillway and along a narrow concrete ledge to falls section of the park.

This picture is of a brachiopod that marks zones in the limestone layers. It is called the Brevispirifer gregarius (Clapp, 1857).  It existed in the Jeffersonville Limestone during the Middle Devonian Period. The dark areas of the rock are from volcanic ash falls (metabentonites). I think this one might have been called Kawkawlin which I assume was the name of the volcano.

When I went on this hike one thing I was going to make sure of was to find this brachiopod since it is mentioned is so much literature describing the Falls of the Ohio near Louisville, Kentucky.

You can see another Brevispirifer brachiopod imprint next to this gastropod shell that has crystallized. It is a turrentiform called Palaeozygopleura hamiltoniea.

This last picture of a Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) that was almost driven to extinction because their beautiful white feathers were used in hats.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Modern Day Brachiopod Terebratalia transversa

UPDATED: The brachiopod shown in the picture was mislabelled in more ways then one. First the genus name shown is spelled wrong. It should be Laqueus but it does not stop there. Thanks to Howard for this correction. If you look at images of modern day brachiopods found off the coast of California, you will find this image is a closer match to a brachiopod called Terebratalia transversa (Sowerby, 1846). So the BIG lesson here is just because someone gives you something that is labeled, check its naming and visual reference!

This picture is of a modern day brachiopod found near Catalina Island off California at about a depth of 100 meters. It was found in 1985 and is called Lacqueas californicus.

Thanks to a member of Kentucky Paleontological Society for showing it to me at the Fossil Festival.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fossils Seen At Fossil Festival

I was volunteering for the KYANA Geological Society on Saturday, September 19, 2009 at the Fossil Festival at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. The area next to ours was the Kentucky Paleontological Society of Lexington, Kentucky and their friendly members. One member had a case with a lot of very nice fossils in that he let me photograph. Here are some of those pictures.

This first picture is of an Archaeocrinus sp. crinoid from the Ordovician Period.

This next image is of a Climacograptus Graptolite found in the Clays Ferry Formation in Danville, Kentucky. It is from the Upper Ordovician Period.

These crinoid calyx are called Glyptocrinus. They existed in the Middle Ordovician Period. Found in the Lexington Limestone, Millersburg Member.

Here are some Glyptocrinus decadactylus crinoids from the Upper Ordovician Period. Notice on some of the calyx a Cyclonema gastropod attached. It is interesting that the snail remained attached but the arms broke away. I would think a traumatic event occurred that buried both the crinoid and the snail. The snail would instinctively detach from the crinoid and retreat into the safety of its shell. The crinoids were found in the Grant Lake Limestone of Maysville, Kentucky.

A Silurian Period cephalopod called Dawsonoceras found in the Upper Osgood Formation in Napoleon, Indiana. Some of the sinusoidal lines are still visible on the shell.

Here is a fossil of red algae shown in this polished crossection. It is from the Middle Ordovician Period. Found in the Lexington Limestone, Strodes Creek Member from Clark County, Kentucky.

Here is an almost intact Silurian Period Eucalyptocrinites crinoid found in Clark County, Indiana.

This might be an Eucalyptocrinites crinoid cup from the Silurian Period found in Clark County, Indiana. I forgot to photograph the label.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fossils at Notre Dame Cathedral

When I was in Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral was a definite stop. I decided to go up in one of the towers. It is quite a wait to get up to the top but provides a great view of the city. When I was up in one of the towers I noticed quite a bit of fossiliferous rock. The statues of chimeras and gargoyles contain fossils.

This appears to be some sort of clam.

Lots of molds of gastropod shells.

Imprint of a gastropod

I am not sure are these chimeras or gargoyles or something else. That one on the left looks like an elephant.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Archean Butterstone

Here is a fossil that is sold in the United States described as an Archean butterstone from the Greenstone Belt of South Africa. The rock is over 2.5 billion years old and may contain blue-green algae stromatolites.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

museumday September 26, 2009

The Smithsonian magazine museumday is Saturday, September 26, 2009. Find out more at this website. "Enjoy free general admission for you and a guest to hundreds of museums and cultural venues nationwide."

Museums around me that are participating:

Carnegie Center for Art and History

201 East Spring Street
New Albany, Indiana 47150

Frazier International History Museum
900 West Main Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202

Howard Steamboat Museum & Mansion
1101 E. Market Street
Jeffersonville, Indiana 47131

Historic Locust Grove
561 Blankenbaker Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40207

Museums can be great places to find fossils as well. My favorite in this area is the Louisville Science Center. They will be hosting the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition from October 3, 2009 till February 15, 2010.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Calamites Living Desendants

This plant is known as Equisetum or common names Horsetail reed or pewterwart. It is known as a living fossil. The plant is a descendant of Calamites.

This post on Neocalamites fossil plants at Malaysian Triassic Blog inspired me to create today's entry. I had been meaning to post these recently taken pictures.

These first three pictures were taken recently in Washington state.

These last four were taken in Paris, France near the Jardin Des Plantes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Carboniferous Fossils

The following are images of Lower Carboniferous Period (Mississippian) fossils. This first one is a elliptical crinoid columnal segment from maybe a Platycrinites.

This next image of a crinoid calyx that is probably an Eretmocrinus.

This next image is of an anal tube of an Eretmocrinus crinoid.
This might be a holdfast of an unidentified crinoid.

Unknown brachiopod shell half fossil.

A view of Lake Cumberland, Kentucky where these fossils were found in the Fort Payne Formation.