Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cretaceous Shells of Alabama

 The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has a number of Cretaceous Period shell fossils on display from Alabama.  This first picture is of the Calyptraphorus trinodiferus. The next picture shows a Clinuropsis pagodiformis.

The third picture contains pictures of two specimens: Lecifusus sp. and  Latirus tortilis.

The last picture is of a "Voluta" newcombiana.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Japanese Shark Teeth Web Site

My knowledge of shark teeth fossils is very limited so finding this Internet site in Japan is a real treasure: J-elasmo by Dr. Fumio Nakagawa (Ota-ku, Tokyo).

It is good to set objectives and two of my current ones are: 1) find a Troosticrinus (Shumard, 1866) blastoid and 2) collect a Mississippian Period shark tooth.  This web site can help with the second objective in providing images of what to look for and which layers to find the fossil.  Wow, the collection of Indiana and Kentucky Mississippian Period shark teeth is impressive!

Stethacanthid Shark - Mississippian Period
Drawn by Dmitry Bogdanov
Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Three web pages on the site were of particular interest.  Mississippian Period fossil teeth found in three Indiana locations on this page.  The first site is in Washington County, Indiana in the Harrods Limestone Formation with Symmorium, Hybodus, Orodus greggi, Petalodus, Polyrhizodus, Lisgodus, Chomatodus multiplicatus, Helodus, Deltodus, Lagarodus, Venustodus argutus, and Phoebodus specimens being found.

Site 2 is also in Washington County, Indiana in the Salem Limestone.  Specimens found there are: Chomatodus, Antliodus, Campodus, Sandolodus, and Psammodus.

Site 3 found in Washington County, Indiana in the Haney Limestone Formation.  Specimens Symmorium and Chomatodus being found.

The next web page lists more Upper Mississippian Period shark teeth but this time from Crawford County, Indiana.  Specimens found in the Haney Formation: Symmorium, Hybodus, Orodus, Campodus, Petalodus, Fissodus, Tanodus polymorphus, Helodus, Sandolodus carbonarias, Psammodus, and Venustodus.  Found in the Indian Springs Formation: Symmorium reniforme, Antliodus, Arpagodus, Venustodus argutus, Petrodus, Sandlodus, and Deltodus.

The last web page is of Middle Mississippian Period sharks teeth found in Hardin County, Kentucky.  These teeth were found in the Salem/Harrodsburg Limestone.  Identified as Campodus, Hybodus, Orodus, Phoebodus, Chomatodus multiplicatus, Helodus, Sandolodus, and Psammodus.

This website is a treasure trove of pictures of fossil sharks teeth found in Indiana and Kentucky. Those images represent just a small fraction of the information about sharks on this impressive web site.

Here are links to locally collected shark teeth posted on the KYANA Geological Society web site:


UPDATE (9/7/2019): Changed web address for Japanese site that changed hosts.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Paleoproterozoic Red Alga

Picture of an extremely old fossil of red alga.  This fossil is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and is called Grypania spiralis.   As the placard lists this organism existing in the Late Paleoproterozoic Era and found in the Marquette Range, Michigan.

Check out this entry on the FossilPictures blog about a group of specimens that were auctioned.  It lists the species as being 2.2 billion years old.  The specimens are of the oldest multicellular organism (eukaryotic).  You can see from their selling prices in 2009 to be quite valuable.  They appear to have come from the Potomac Museum Group.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tylocidaris clavigera

Tylocidaris clavigera (Mantell, 1822) cast of a sea urchin fossil found in England.  The creature existed in the Cretaceous Period.  Cast on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stereocidaris hemigranosus

Stereocidaris hemigranosus sea urchin fossil on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.  The fossil is from Texas and existed in the Cretaceous Period.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Macrocrinus Crinioid with Metablastus Blastoid

On the right is a Macrocrinus mundulus crinoid with its stem, calyx and anal tube intact.  The fossil on the left is an intact blastoid called Metablastus wachsmuthi.  These creatures existed in the Mississippian Period.  The fossils were found in Indian Creek, Indiana.  They are on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  Alex Fabian of Temperance, Michigan loaned the fossils for display.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Athyris nettlerothi

After roaming the exhibits of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History I found a darkened case that contained fossils that I have collected many of.  The Devonian Period Athyris brachiopod found in southern Indiana.  Why the display case was so dark, puzzles me.  As luck had it, I was carrying a small white LED keyring.  Using one hand to illuminate the specimens and the other to hold the camera to auto-focus and then take the picture.  The results are somewhat mixed but I was still happy to these compact little brachiopods found in the Louisville area are on display.

The displays describe them as Athyris nettlerothi (Stainbrook, 1942) of the Middle Devonian Period found in Indiana.  This species is named after a famous paleontologist in the state of Kentucky, Henry Nettelroth(1835-1887).  Appropriately, the Smithsonian Institution published an article entitled "The Nettelroth Collection of Invertebrate Fossils" by R.S. Bassler in Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections (Quarterly Issue) Volume 52, Part 2, pages 121-152, with Plates IX-XI, No. 1814, September 23, 1908. 

After doing a search for the species, it revealed only a few sources and no images.  One source was from Guy Campbell who lived in southern Indiana and specialized in fossils from this area.  He listed it as occurring in the Speed Limestone which is exposed in southern Indiana.  A search of the on-line Smithsonian collections database did not reveal any information about these specimens.

This last picture is of some Athyris brachiopods found in the Speed Limestone of Clark County, Indiana.

Learn more about the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History at their channel on YouTube.

UPDATE (Jan. 2023):  Thanks to Mark Florence at the Smithsonian for pointing out where this species was named. It was in BRACHIOPODA OF THE CEDAR VALLEY BEDS OF IOWA
 Inarticulata, Rhynchonellacea and Rostrospiracea
by Merrill A. Stainbrook (1897-1956) of Texas Technological College, Lubbock Texas (now known as Texas Tech University). It looks Merrill Stainbrook misspelled Nettelroth's name in his paper on page 617 when he named the new species and referring to the reference book. I cannot fault him though as I have reversed the letters E and L in Henry Nettelroth's name on a number of occasions as well.  Merrill's rational for naming the new species is:

"The Indiana Athyris differs in shape
 and outline, is nearly twice as large as A.
 vittata, and is slightly longer than wide on
 the average or as wide. The fold is bordered
 by less acute furrows on either side, and
 the anterior commissure is not as strongly
 sinuous. The shell is thicker proportion-
 ately, the umbos are more prominent, and
 the pedicle beak more protuberant and in-
 curved. A typical example from the Jeffer-
 sonville limestone measures 19.5 mm. in
 length, 19.1 mm. in width, and 13.6 mm.
 in thickness. In Athyris vittata the greatest
 breadth is at the midlength or a little an-
 terior; in the Indiana Athyris the greatest
 width is posterior. Athyris vittata is thickest
 at the midpoint; the Indiana form is thick-
 est posteriorly."

He refers to the holotype as 1290A and papratypes 1290 and 1289 in his collection that will later be turned over to the university. I assume they are now stored at the Museum of Texas Tech University. An obituary for Merrill Addison Stainbrook was published by the Iowa Academy of Science pages 70-72.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hippocardia subtrigonale

A Devonian Period fossil called Hippocardia subtrigonale.  It is from Kentucky and is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Scytalocrinus robustus

A Scytalocrinus robustus (Hall, 1861) crinoid fossil from Indiana USA.  This crinoid existed in the Mississippian Period. It is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

3D Museum

Last week I posted a link to a 3D trilobite image, now I am posting links to a virtual museum with a number of these types of images.  Click on the names under the images to go to a page that will allow you to rotate the image in 3 dimensions. The web site hopes to inspire a scientific interest in the natural objects presented to its visitors.  University of California, Davis hosts the web site.

One can learn more about how the images were made at this page.  Curious about what it takes to create images like this, I found a site that listed prices of the Minolta Range and Vivid cameras.  At between $25,000 to $70,000 these cameras will not be within the general public's reach very soon.  One day maybe technology like this will be in the hands of the every day consumer.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Silurian Recepticulites

Recepticulites (some type of sponge?) found in the Laurel Member of the Salamonie Dolomite (Nelson County, Kentucky).  Fossil existed in the Silurian Period.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Homalophyllum (Zaphrentis) ungula

These horn corals are on display at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.  They are located in the Ancient Seas section on the first floor.  The three specimens are identified as Homalophyllum (Zaphrentis) ungula of the Devonian Period found in Kentucky.

This museum is an amazing national treasure loaded with specimens of all types!  I started with this fossil since I suspect it is from Louisville and probably the Falls of the Ohio.  My visit to the museum was educational and tiring after trying to see as much of the material before they closed for the day.  A later post will overview my visit and impressions of such a grand place once I collect my thoughts and survey the photos taken.

The odd thing is when I type the scientific name Homalophyllum ungula or Zaphrentis ungula into the Smithsonian collections database nothing is found.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kope Formation Cornulites

Worm tube fossil called Cornulites.  Existed in the Ordovician Period.  Fossil found in the Kope Formation of Carroll County, Kentucky.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bellerophon percarinatus

A Bellerophon percarinatus fossil of a Pennsylvanian Period snail.  It was found in the Breathitt Group of Hazard, Kentucky.  This creature existed in the Pennsylvanian Period.

Thanks to Herb for letting me photograph this specimen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kope Formation Graptolites

All the pictures in this post are from the same plate.  The first two are of the top and bottom of that plate.  Fossils shown on the plate appear to be graptolites (colonial Paleozoic plankton).  These were found in the Kope Formation of Carroll County, Kentucky dated to the Ordovician Period.

Learn more about graptolites on Wikipedia.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Catellocaula vallata Borings on Bryozoan

This hemispherical bryozoan might be a Prasapora simulatrix found in the Kope Formation of Carroll County, Kentucky.  On one side of the bryozoan are borings that are trace fossils called Catellocaula vellata.

Thanks to Bill Heimbrock's Xfossil website entry by Dry Dredger's Ron Fine on the Catellocaula vallata (tunicate).

Last two pictures are top and bottom views of the bryozoan.

See more at the Dry Dredger's website.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kope Formation Bryozoan

Bryozoan fossil section found in the Kope Formation of Carroll County, Kentucky. These little moss creatures lived in the Ordovician Period.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Trilobite Beetle

Not quite fossils or trilobites but these insects look like trilobites in some respects.  According to Wikipedia it is a "Duliticola is a genus of beetles of the family Lycidae."

First YouTube video is of beetle found in Laos.

Second YouTube video is of insect found Borneo

Friday, August 13, 2010

3-D Trilobite Video

UPDATE: Ouch, weeks after this entry was published Criteria Systems ceased operating on September 3, 2010!  The video was removed from YouTube, so much for their legacy.

Criteria Systems is a company in Calgary, Canada that produces three dimensional images of objects. For one of their demonstrations they chose a trilobite.

The object was 3-D scanned and the process is described at their web site here.  Also don't forget to check out their blog.

Very cool technology and it will be great when consumers will be able to take 3-D pictures or scans!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tear Shaped Glabella

This fragment shows a mold and some of the shell replaced by brown calcite of the glabella of a Cryptolithus trilobite.  The fossil was found in the Kope Formation of Carroll County, Kentucky. The trilobite lived in the Ordovician Period.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Importance of Fossil Labeling

Here is a two part video on the importance of the fossil labeling. The presentation was given at a Dry Dredgers meeting (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA). The presenter is John Tate who is a volunteer at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Dry Dredger member.

Ouch, I am guilty of not labeling all my fossils though I am trying to get better. Lots of good advice in the video and I can relate to curating issues of trying to figure out specimens with poor or no labels.

They appear to have a nice computer collection system at the museum.  Cincinnati is fortunate to have a rich set of resources with the Dry Dredgers and the many Ohio universities with natural sciences faculty.  Louisville, Kentucky is not quite at that level. I will say using a spreadsheet is a pretty good and cheap way to track specimens.  Having an SQL database does not hurt either.

Also at the Falls of the Ohio State Park web site check out naturalist Alan Goldstein's "Curating Your Fossil and Mineral Collection" article.

Jessica Utrup, a curator at the Yale University's Peabody Museum, also has some thoughts about this topic on her blog at Spineless Wonders.

Thanks to Dry Dredger's Greg Courtney (flyingscience) for posting so many educational videos on paleontology on YouTube.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cryptolithus Glabella

The Kope Formation of  Carroll County, Kentucky produces a lot of Cryptolithus tessellatus fragments.  This Ordovician Period trilobite was thought to be blind.  Today's post is to highlight a part of the trilobite rarely found in this collecting location: the glabella.  The center tear drop shape usually wears away from these probably molts.  This shape can be seen in the first picture in the top left corner centered in the lace collar area.

The green arrows point to possible Cryptolithus glabellas in this rock plate.  The red arrow points to pygidium of maybe a Flexicalymene.
Next picture shows the plate with a ruler to give one an idea of its size.

Thanks to Kenny for letting me use his air abrasion cleaning system to reveal more details of these trilobite fragments.