Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cyclonema Snail Fossil

These fossil molds of the ancient gastropod Cyclonema were found in Franklin County, Kentucky.  This snail existed in the Ordovician Period.  The fossil was found in the Lexington Limestone.  It is of the class Gastropoda, suborder Euomphalina, and superfamily Platyceratacea.  The genus Cyclonema was named by James Hall in 1852.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kope Formation Cornulites

The green arrows point to the Cornulites (worm tubes) on this fossil laced plate found in the Kope Formation. These fossils of creatures that existed in the Ordovician Period in the area now known as Carroll County, Kentucky.  My Index Fossils of North America book lists the genus as being named by Schlotheim in 1820.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Seed Fern Fossil

Seed fern fossil found in Hazard County, Kentucky. It is probably an Alethopteris fern and grew in the Pennsylvanian Period.

Thanks to Herb for the fossil.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Insurance for Fossils?

I like to read messages on the Fossil Forum website on the Internet from time to time.  It has posts from all over the world and provides a picture of what other fossil enthusiasts are interested in.  The other day I read a concerning post of a member who had part of their fossil collection stolen.

Luckily, they had insurance and a good insurance carrier who worked with them on the values of their fossils.  The person did not have the collection properly documented or photographed so insurance did not pay the full amounts for the value of the collection stolen.

The person who posted the story had some advice for those who maintain fossil/mineral collections:

1) Insurance companies will investigate claims made on collections and a red flag to them is if a person does not have good credit or a history of financial problems.  So if problems exist in ones credit report be ready to explain the issues.

2) Keep receipts and appraisals of the items in the collection.  Take a lot of clear photos and try to get macro images as well of all the specimens.  Keep a copy off site on a memory stick or CD/DVD because the computer/camera might get taken or destroyed at the house.

3) Secure the collection and always lock your doors and set alarm systems.  If items are really valuable consider investing in a safe.

Seems like good advice to consider.

On the topic of insurance, it is a really good idea to make sure you have good automobile or truck insurance.  When out at quarries or road cuts, a vehicle is more likely to get damaged by careless drivers, flying rocks, heavy equipment, or hail storms.  I remember being at a geology club field trip at a local quarry and a member came in late.  As he was driving in, he went past some dump trucks and a rock bounced out of the truck and broke out the side window in his new SUV.  Ouch! I hope he had car insurance.

You can get quotes on auto insurance here in Louisville from Ron Park at  Looking at their website, you can get quotes for auto, health, home, and life insurance for a list of well known insurance companies.

Waldron Shale Horn Coral

Two horn coral fossils are shown in this post. They might be Metriophyllidae cf. Duncanella sp. found in the Waldron Shale.  These Silurian Period fossils were found in Clark County, Indiana.  They would need to be thin sectioned to get an exact identification though.



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Four Types of Waldron Shale Brachiopods

This post is on recently found Silurian Period brachiopods from the Waldron Shale (also called Niagara Limestone), Clark County, Indiana. These first 3 pictures are probably of the Rhynchotrematidae cf. Stegerhynchus sp. or an Eospirifer eudora.

This next brachiopod appears to be the Meristella maria Hall(1863), also known as Meristina maria Hall(1867,1879).
This next brachiopods may have appeared before on this blog before.  The two on the left are Atrypa sp. The right brachiopod is the Homoeospira evax named by Hall and Clarke in 1893.

This last brachiopod is one I am not sure about but appears to be an Atrypa sp.  It was found broken in half and the inside contain calcite crystals.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mystery Ordovician Brachiopod

After researching the Fossils of Ohio and Index Fossils of North America books and the KYANA Geological Society and Dry Dredgers websites for an image of a brachiopod similar to this one, I am at a loss to find a name. It reminds me of a Devonian Period Athyris but this brachiopod was found in the Ordovician Period Kope Formation, Carroll County, Kentucky.  I only found one and discovered it while cleaning a group of brachiopods out of a group of maybe 20.

Any guesses what this brachiopod might be called?

UPDATE: It appears this brachiopod cannot be from the Ordovician Period so either I mixed it up with another fossil batch or someone dropped it there.  I visited the area again and could not find anything close to what this one looks like.  It does look like a Mississippian Period Cleiothyridina sublamello from the Glen Dean Formation of Indiana.  See the web entry for a picture. The size they describe would make it much larger than the one pictured here.


Commissura or margin where shell halves open and close (anterior).

Hinge view (posterior)

It was the only one I found in a plane of maybe 20 or so other brachiopods.  The other brachiopods found were these Dalmanella sp. (a.k.a. Onniella)

The other type of brachiopod found were these Sowerbyella sp.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cyrtolites ornatus Monoplacophoran Fossil

UPDATE (01/27/2010): After cleaning this fossil off some more I changed its identification to Cyrtolites ornatus (Conrad, 1838) after the undulation (definition: having a wavy or curving form) were revealed by sand blasting.  If I can get more of the matrix off, this will be a very nice looking fossil.  The keel shape going down the center has a very nice form.  Thanks to Kenny for alerting me to what this fossil really was.

UPDATE(09/18/2021): After doing some research on another fossil I realized I had this fossil genus spelled wrong. Name has been corrected. Add name of person who named species and classified as a monoplacophoran.

Here are some Bellerophon fossils I found in the Kope Formation in Carroll County, Kentucky.  Until now, I have not found growth line patterns found on the shell.  Usually, I just find a smooth shell pattern with the ridge line running the length of the shell.  A Cyclonema fossil is attached to the Bellerophon.

It is a neat find and I hope to clean with air abrasion sometime to reveal the growth lines.

This Bellerophon mold is typical of the ones I find at Ordovician Period road cuts around the Louisville area. It has a nice whirl at one end of the fossil.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kope Formation Fossils

The rain has stopped and the temperature is in the 50s degrees F so it was time to get out and do some fossil collecting. These fossils were found in Kope Formation in Carroll County, Kentucky. These creatures existed in the Ordovician Period. These first two images are of an enrolled Flexicalymene trilobite that has not been prepped yet so I am not sure if its cephalon is intact or not.

This small clam fossil is quite a find. Its shell has been replaced with aragonite (brown calcite?) and both sides are there. The middle of both sides has eroded out though. This clam was called Ambonychia.

This fossil is an orthoceras type cephalopod that has part of its aragonite shell exposed that was covered by bryozoan. Note: I am not sure this brown material is aragonite because from what I read that form of calcium carbonate is not particularly stable and is eventually replaced by calcite.  Would it be possible the bryozoan layer protected this fossil in aragonite form from mineral replacement?

Here is a Cryptolithus trilobite that has its cephalon with its lace collar and glabella.  It also has  an Ambonychia clam shell fragment attached.


The fossils are small but it was fun finding them.

Dinosaurs Alive! at Louisville Zoo

The Louisville Zoo will be hosting an animatronic dinosaur exhibit from March to October 2010.  These 16 dinosaur models will roar and move like living animals.  See robotic creatures like the Brachiosaurus (Late Jurassic), Deinonychus (Early Cretaceous), Cryolophosaurus (Early Jurassic), and Tyrannosaurus rex (Late Cretaceous).

The zoo will also have a hands on activity so kids can be a paleontologist and study a fossil site with brushes and sifters to discover dinosaur remains.  The gift show will have a place to buy dinosaur merchandise at the Shopasaurus.

The exhibit was created by Billings Productions of McKinney, Texas.  Visit their website to get an idea of the types of dinosaurs produce.

Regular zoo admission will have a special attraction fee of $4 for Zoo members and $5 for non-members.  Children age 2 and under are free.  Call the zoo at (502) 238-5348 for more info or visit their website at

 Real fossils are on display as well like this fish fossil from the Green River Formation of Wyoming probably from the Eocene Period (approximately 55-35 million years ago).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fossils in Indiana Limestone

Microfossils of the Salem Limestone (aka Indiana Limestone) that existed in the Middle Mississippian Period (340-335 million years ago). Sections of this limestone quarried near Bloomington and Bedford Indiana were used as material for famous buildings around the United States. Buildings such as New York City's Empire State Building & Rockefeller Center and Washington's Pentagon & National Cathedral.  One can learn more about the role of Salem Limestone in the building of the United States in Chapter 6 of the book Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology by David B. Williams.

This fossil is some sort of bryozoan.  Using its picture it might be a Fenestella or Hemitrypa.

Fossils found in Washington County, Indiana.

Thanks to Herb for the Salem Limestone sand material to study.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Endothyra baileyi Foraminifera

Foraminifera fossils from the Salem Limestone of Washington County, Indiana. These creatures are called Endothyra baileyi and existed 360-325 million years ago (Mississippian Period).  Microfossils were studied quite a bit by the oil exploration industry so they could determine the rock layers drills had reached to help find fossil fuels.  I am not sure if they have the same importance today with the proliferation of advanced sensing technology.

Endothyra baileyi foraminifera (Webster's dictionary: "marine protozoans with calcareous shells full of tiny holes through which slender filaments project") described by James Hall in Transactions Albany Institute, volume IV, page 34 published in 1856.  The description is "Shell depressed, orbicular, sub-equally convex above and below, smooth, margin rounded, indented by the septa; spire depressed, involved; last volution slightly oblique, consisting of eight loculi; aperture contracted. The general form of this fossil is depressed, globular, with the involutions deviating slightly from the same plane. Not infrequently, however, the spire ascends in greater or less degree, and one of more loculi become visible beyond the single volution. Sometimes seven loculi only are visible in the volutions. The surface is smooth under the ordinary magnifier, and the outline is indented at the septa."

Listing found in Fauna of the Salem Limestone of Indiana section written by E.R. Cumings, J.W. Beede, E.B. Branson, and Essie A. Smith in the Indiana Department of Geology and Natural Resources Thirtieth Annual Report from 1905 on pages 1201-1202.

Thanks to Herb for the Salem Limestone sand.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Polychaete Annelid Worm

Hundreds of millions of years before the dinosaurs, there existed a ferocious creature. Terror filled victims lay in its path as it rampaged through a Paleozoic sea. Today all that is left is its jaws. Jaws that would rival later carnivores such as the Megalodon shark, Tyrannosaurus rex, and pit bull dogs (Canis familiaris). What beast could generate such carnage and fear? It turns out the polychaete annelid worm from the Ordovician Period. The annelid is a segmented protostome related to modern day leaches and earthworms.

Feast your eyes on such a destructive and potent weapons as these jaws.  Made of a of material so durable it almost appears made yesterday despite being over 400,000,000 years old.  The jaw consists of collagen (protein) fibers and traces of zinc.  Unlike the other fossils I collect that are molds in limestone or shale, or substitutions composed of quartz, calcite, aragonite (brown calcite?), or pyrite this material is apparently original.

Okay, I am exaggerating about this worm.  It appears to have eaten algae, plant leaves, and other worms. These jaws or scolecodonts were found in Ordovician limestone material from Kentucky.  A microscope was used to magnify the fossil at least 60 times its original size.  Very small but fun to find.

Thanks to Herb for the Ordovician gravel they were found in.