Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fossils Pouring Out of the Ground

This video link shows a story from PBS News Hour (November 29, 2010) describing research by the Denver Museum of Science and Nature of an Ice Age fossil site in Colorado. Scientists there believe the fossils are between 45000 and 125000 years old. Excavators there were finding a fossil every 2-10 minutes with a new species discovered every day during a six day dig. Fossils found were a juvenile mammoth, 5 mastodons, a bison with a 2 meter horn span, and a Jefferson's sloth.

What makes the site even more special are the plant, insect, and invertebrate fossils found with the vertebrates. It allows researchers to recreate almost the entire ecosystem.

Learn more by watch the story at the video link or read the transcript at the News Hour web site. One can also listen to a MP3 of the story at this link.

UPDATE:  After a little more research one can find a more detailed listing of their findings at The Artful Amoeba blog entry entitled  "Snowmastodon Village: A Visual Tour of a Remarkable New Find"

Waldron Shale Pygidium

Unidentified trilobite pygidium of maybe a Dalmanites or Glyptambon.  Fossil found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.  This animal trudged the sea floors during the Middle Silurian Period.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mourlonia Gastropod Fossil

A Mourlonia gastropod fossil found in the Borden Formation of Morehead, Kentucky.  Five fossils are shown in this post and all are pyritized.  This snail slinked around the Earth during the Mississippian Period.  This entry at the KYANA Geological Society web site was used to identify the fossils.

Next two images show specimen two.  It is quite broken up.

One image of specimen 3 shown next.
Specimen 4 is the only fossil in the group showing ornamentation (next two images).

 These last two images show specimen number 5.
Thanks to Herb for the fossils!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dalmanites Imprint

Imprint of a Dalmanites trilobite in a piece of Waldron Shale from Clark County, Indiana.  This trilobite crawled the Earth during the Middle Silurian Period (about 428,000,000 to 418,000,000 years ago).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Meristella maria Brachiopods

Imprint remains of fossilized brachiopods called Meristella maria [the genus Meristina can also be used].  These animals lived in the Middle Silurian Period.  Fossils found in the Waldron Shale of  Clark County, Indiana.

Pictures of second specimen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pyrite Coated Brachiopod + Crinoid

Picture of a Silurian Period brachiopod and crinoid stem coated in pyrite.  I am guessing this would be a concretion?  Fossils found in the Laurel Dolomite of Nelson County, Kentucky.

 Next picture shows the gray dolomite on the other side of the pyrite concretion.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eospirifer With Partial Bryozoan Coating

An Eospirifer radiatus brachiopod with one half coated in bryozoan.  Fossil was found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.  This layer dates it to the Middle Silurian Period.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Video of Fluorescence Spectra Analysis of Minerals

This YouTube video (8:26 minutes) by the Antwerp Mineralogical Society (MKA)of Belgium showing how they use the Ocean Optics USB4000 Fiber Optic Spectrometer. The host Axel Emmermann gives an overview of their society and then introduces the spectrometer. A review of the LED lighting system, the fiber optic cable/lens, and the test chamber. The software is then demonstrated analyzing scheelite that contains disulfide iron fluorescencing. Other examples shown are apatite from Jumilla, Spain and sheelite from China.

I find this research very interesting and a device like that would be great to analysis the Louisville collection with. It could be of great help determining the origins of the fluorescent specimens that lost their labels long ago.  The USB4000 appears to cost about $2500 + $200 for software.

Ocean Optics founded in 1989 by a researcher at the University of South Florida.  Its equipment is used for medical diagnostics, environmental sciences, consumer electronics, and life sciences.  In addition, their equipment was used for the Mars Rover and Mir space station.  The company is headquartered in Dunedin, Florida but also has offices in The Netherlands, Germany, and China.  Over 100,000 spectrometers have been sold worldwide.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Help the Polar Bears

Yikes!  This bear looks ready for Thanksgiving.

UPDATE (12/22/2010): The Zoo raised the money according to Courier Journal article ("Zoo raises money to secure Kresge grant for Glacier Run" by Sheldon S. Shafer) and obtained the matching grant after the Ogle Foundation ($100,000), Humana, Inc. ($100,000), The Friends of the Zoo ($150,000), and an anonymous donor ($100,000) made donations.  These donations along with over 500 donors in the last two months were able to raise the final amount of the $.7.7 million.  The article stated: "Of the $25.6 million in the total campaign, gifts of $1 million or more have come from: Louisville Metro Government, the James Graham Brown Foundation, Brown-Forman Corp., the Friends of the Louisville Zoo, the Harry S. Frazier family, Annette and John Schnatter, and Betty and David Jones."

The Louisville Zoo of Kentucky is building a section called Glacier Run that provides habitat for the seals and sea lions plus the polar and grizzly bears.   If all the money is raised it will also house snowy owls, Steller's sea eagles, and arctic foxes. [Note: No photographers were hurt or eaten in the taking of these polar bear pictures!]

The zoo has till January 1, 2011 to raise the final $820,000 of $7,700,000 in order to receive a $900,000 challenge grant from the non-profit Kresge Foundation of Troy, Michigan.  The entire project overall has raised approximately $23.9 million.  Parts of the Glacier Run exhibit are already open (the living area for the seals and sea lions).

Help these living polar bears so future generations won't have to only see them in museum exhibits like one in the following picture.

Display at Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Pittsburgh, PA

Allowable matching funds are tax-deductible and can be in the form of cash or pledges from corporations, foundations and individuals.  Donations can be mailed to:

Jill Kaplan, Director of Development
c/o Louisville Zoo
1100 Trevilian Way
Louisville Ky. 40213

For information call 502-459-2181 or read the full story at the Courier Journal web site.

These polar bears are not fossils... yet.  Let us hope their habitat does not melt away and them along with it.

Polar bear pictures were taken at the Louisville Science Center Discovery Gallery of stuffed bears donated back in the early 1970s.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Devonian Pseudoatrypa Lophophore

Another Pseudoatrypa brachiopod with a silicified lophophore.  It is more vertical than the one found on the Orthospirifer brachiopod found in the Jeffersonville Limestone as well.  Animal existed in the Middle Devonian Period. Found in Jefferson County, Kentucky.

The fossil appears to have been sheared in half.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mystery Rock Found in Waldron Shale Pile

This rock was found in a pile of Silurian Period Waldron Shale next to a busy parking lot.  One side of it has a black layer that attracts a magnet.  [I sometimes test things found with rare earth magnets after watching the Science Channel show Meteorite Men.] The rest of the rock does not appear to be limestone.  As an experiment, another rock with a horn coral in it known to be Waldron Shale was exposed to vinegar.  It began to fizz.  Vinegar was then applied to this mystery rock and nothing happened.  In another test, it can be scratched with a steel knife. [Update: I wet sanded the cut side of the rock and it left just a black residue on the paper.  Also sanded during the session was sphalerite (zinc sulfide) which left a cream colored residue and smelled like rotten eggs while being sanded (sulfur?) and a small piece of metallic rock (1 g) that left brown residue while sanded.  So I can conclude the mystery rock probably does not contain sulfur.]

It dimensions are roughly 2.5 cm x 2.1 cm x 2.3 cm with a weight of 38.5 g.  The side with the black coating is smooth but the side opposite that is rough (see next picture).  The other sides are basically flat but coarse like a 200 grit sand paper. On the surface of a few sides are several small pot marks with diameters 1-3 mm.

 Closer view of side that attracts magnets.

The side shown on the left of the picture was cut with a diamond saw. It is almost black after being cut with small holes the size of grains of sand.  The water coming of the saw blade turned darker when cutting, reminding me of cutting black New Albany Shale but without the sulfur smell.

Some one must of discarded it into the pile or it came off a piece of quarry machinery?  I assume with the coating and bubble cavities it was man-made.

Dry Dredgers November Meeting

After a long delay I finally attended a meeting of the amateur fossil-collecting group, Dry Dredgers of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Cincinnati is about a 90 minute drive up I-71 from Louisville, Kentucky.  Like Louisville, Cincinnati was established on the banks of the Ohio River.

Since 1942, the Dry Dredgers have met at the Geology Department of the University of Cincinnati.  They also have a good working relationship with the Cincinnati Museum.  Their meetings appear to take place on the 4th Friday of the month at 8 PM.  This one was held a week early for Thanksgiving.

The meeting was well attended with maybe 50 people in a large classroom with multimedia capabilities.  I had not been to the campus of the University of Cincinnati before and the GPS got me there.  Finding the correct place to park and the Braunstein Hall building took some time.  Luckily I asked a couple on the street I parked on if I was in the correct location and they were members going to the meeting.  They helped me find the room and get a parking pass for my car.

The business section and committee reports are held at the beginning of the meeting.  Geology professors report about research or field trips they are involved in.  A person from the museum might also give a report as well but one was not present at the meeting I attended.  The speaker for the meeting was Terry Huizing, a volunteer curator of mineralogy at the Cincinnati Museum Center and past president of the Cincinnati Mineral Society.  His PowerPoint presentation was entitled "Minerals of the Midwestern United States - Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky". 

Very impressive photography of specimens obtained from quarries and road cuts in those states.  If I recall there were quite a few calcite, dolomite, and pyrite specimens.  There might have also been some sphalerite, marcasite, fluorite, barite, and quartz specimens.  After the main presentation, the formal meeting was over and attendees talked in small groups and enjoyed refreshments in the back of the room.  I bought a small book: Cincinnati Fossils: An Elementary Guide to the Ordovician Rocks and Fossils of the Cincinnati, Ohio, Region edited by R.A. Davis, Cincinnati Museum Center (1998).

They also give out quite a few door prizes (maybe 10 or so) at the beginning of the meeting.

With my notebook computer I showed Mr. Huizing the mineral database application I developed for the Louisville Science Center collection.  He told me they use a system that the Smithsonian uses.  After giving him a short demonstration, I realized that the interface has some cosmetic issues when using the Chrome browser (normally I test it using Firefox).  Also my next demo will be with a Windows 7 notebook that boots a lot faster than Windows XP one.  A new option for the mineral gallery feature that shows just the "eye-candy" pieces as opposed to every image in the database.

Bill Heimbrock who maintains their excellent web site also creates trilobite replicas sold at the museum gift shop.  He had a number of Isotelus trilobite replicas on hand created with various plasters and compounds.

I tried to get some genus/species identifications for two Ordovician Period branching bryozoans.  The people I asked played it safe told me then section would be needed for a positive ID.  In addition, I brought  Devonian & Silurian fossils found around the Louisville area to show plus minerals (pyrite, barite, fluorite, sphalerite) from Kentucky and Illinois.  Besides fossils and minerals, the river snails shells (highlighted in this blog entry of November 15, 2010) were with me.  An attendee told me the snails are indeed edible.  The brachiopod with a partially exposed lophophore attracted the most attention of the items I brought (see picture in November 18, 2010 blog post).

My impressions of this group: the members I encountered were very friendly.  They have a strong academic presence and a number of younger members.  Researchers and professors at the university utilize fossils found by the group in research papers.  Ohio has an impressive set of academic geological resources that Kentucky does not (at least in the Louisville area). 

I hope to return for another meeting in 2011 and next time take some nice Ordovician finds to show.  The drive is not bad but I did not return to the house till 1 AM.  One has to be careful driving I-71 this time of year because of deer.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Brevispirifer gregarius Brachiopods

This brachiopod is an index fossil for sections of the Jeffersonville Limestone found around the Louisville, Kentucky area.  It is difficult (at least for me) to find intact ones.  Here are pictures three of the Brevispirifer gregarius (Clapp, 1857) dated to the Middle Devonian Period.  All brachiopods are less than 2 cm long and 2 cm wide.