Friday, January 28, 2011

More Emerald Isle Fossils

This posting shows seven fossils found beach combing in the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland.  Thanks to Vincent Coleman for sending images of fossils he has been finding there.  The lead off image is straight shelled cephalopod fossils showing the growth chambers. I really like the green-olive color lichens contrasting the rock color.

The next three pictures are of coral fossils.  More than likely some sort of horn corals.   I have been told these fossils are from the Mississippian period (Carboniferous).

The following image is of the most interesting fossil.  Is it some sort of early vertebrate creature like a Phlegethontia or Lysorophian? It could also be the cross section of a horn coral or just pseudo fossil shape.

Next picture might be part of an eroded crinoid calyx.

Last image is a fossil that was covered by the Atlantic Ocean when taken.  It is spiraled form of maybe a cephalopod or gastropod.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dinosaur Wars On-Line Video

Watch the full episode. See more American Experience.

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) show American Experience has made the Dinosaur Wars show available for on-line viewing. It is the story of two paleontologists Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh, competition to uncover dinosaur fossils in the late 1800s. A sad story about what happen when collecting fossils gets out of hand.

Thanks to the Alfred P. Sloane Foundation and Liberty Mutual for making this show possible.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Carboniferous Crinoid Calyx

The bottom of this crinoid calyx displays an attractive five plate flower pattern.  This unidentified calyx is from the Upper Mississippian Period.  The fossil was found in Indian Springs Shale Member of the Big Clifty Formation of Crawford County, Indiana. Three specimens are shown in this posting and each fossil is about 1 cm in diameter. UPDATE (2020): These calyx cups might be Phanocrinus or Bicidiocrinus.

Thanks to Kenny for letting me image his fossils for this post.

On a small side note, this is my 900th post.  I will now slow down my publishing rate which has been for a while 7 posts a week.  My plan is now just publish on Sundays and Mondays which should get the blog to 1000 posts in 2011.  If a special occasion or fossil needs to be posted, I will publish outside of this schedule.  If I have any daily readers, thank you for your dedication to this fossil blog.

Looking for a daily read, check out the posts on the ever active Fossil Forum and good geology news and nifty info read the GeoBulletin.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Eucalyptocrinus Crinoid Calyx

The Eucalyptocrinus crassus (Hall, 1863) crinoid calyx with arm fragments and small stem section. Found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.  Found, imaged, and prepped by Kenny.  This Silurian period fossil is considered an index fossil for the Waldron Shale. 

The Waldron Shale fossils were documented in the Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History Eleventh Annual Report with John Collett State Geologist, 1881 published by Wm. B. Burford, State Printer of Indianapolis, 1882.  Below are some of the illustrations shown in this report.

Eucalyptocrinus crassus - Plate 17 Figure 5

Eucalyptocrinus crassus - Plate 17 Figure7

Eucalyptocrinus crassus - Plate 18 Figure 4

Eucalyptocrinus crassus - Plate 18 Figure 5

Eucalyptocrinus crassus - Plate 18 Figure 6

Eucalyptocrinus crassus - Plate 18 Figure 7

Friday, January 21, 2011

Glyptocrinus Crinoid Calyx

This calyx fossil was found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.  It is somewhat worn but appears to be some sort of Glyptocrinus sp.  This crinoid existed in the Silurian Period. The white spots on the images are caused by light reflecting off pyrite crystals.

This last three illustrations Plate 13, figures 8-10 in the Indiana Department of Geology and Natural History (Eleventh Annual Report) from 1881.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Platyceras dumosum Snail Fossil

Platyceras dumosum (Conrad, 1840) snail fossil found in the Jeffersonville Limestone of Jefferson County, Kentucky USA.  Animal existed in Devonian Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the pictures and his nice prep work on this fossil.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Platystoma niagarensis Snail Fossil

All I can write about this fossil is... SWEET! Okay, I will embellish it a little more.

This snail fossil is interesting in that it has the matrix negative it can be removed from. Fossil is the Playstoma niagarensis found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.  This is a fairly large fossil for this locale measuring about 5.3 cm in diameter.  Near the inner whirl there might be remains of Cornulites attachments.  Needs further analysis with a magnifier.  Looking at other Waldron Shale fossils of this species, one sees worm tube attachments from time to time.

Kenny did the amazing prep work on this Silurian fossil using sand abrasive cleaning and the Air Scriber 8315B.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Uintacrinus socialis Crinoids

This is an amazing plate showing the fossilized remains of Uintacrinus socialis crinoids.  Picture taken at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. in 2010.  Creatures lived in the Cretaceous Period in what is now known as Kansas.

The display described the arms of this crinoid could grow to a meter in length.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Silurian Experience Field Guide

Primitive Worlds is a fossil company in Rochester, New York that appears to run a private quarry that harvest and sell Rochester Shale fossils.  Their web site lists they have worked for over 20 years to find some extraordinary fossils.  From that collection, they have created a picture book called The Silurian Experience and a subset of that book called the Field Guide.

I obtained a field guide this month for $25 from their web site and it arrived promptly.  The guide is not large being only 27 pages.  What they did was take the pages from the 233 page main book and spiral bound them together.  Pages from the main book are 1, 2, 16-20, 22, 26, 27, 39-41, 60, 63, 68, 72, 78, 86, 91, 96, 103, 110, 134, 146, 154, 158, and 162 comprise the field guide.  As a  result, the reader will see the thumbnail images of all the fossils contained in the book.  The color pictures range in size approximately 2-7 cm in length and about 3-5 cm in height.

The guide contains an amazing number of intact trilobite and crinoid fossils found in the Rochester Shale over the last 17 years at Calebs' Quarry in western New York state.  Creatures I did not know existing in that layer are also shown, like edrioasteriods (Hemicystites parasiticus and Rhenopyrgid sp.), starfish (Palaeaster niagarensis and unidentified one), brittle stars (Protaster sp., Protaster stellifer, and unidentified one), Machaeridian worm (Lepidocoleus sarlei), and Conularians (Conularian niagarensis and 4 unidentified ones)

Here is the list of species found in the guide:

Corals: Enterolasma calculum, Favosites parasiticus, Favosites niagarensis

Bryozoans: Retpora diffusa, Lichenalia concentrica, Callopora aspera, Hallopora elegantula, Fenestrellina elegans, Retpora asperato-striata, Chilotrypa ostiolata, Trematopora tubulosa, Clathropora frondosa, and 8 undetermined specimens

Brachiopods: Leptaena rhomboidalis, Atrypa reticularis, Trematospira camura, Homeospira cf. evax, Whitfieldella nitida, Dalejina hybrida, Coolinia suplana, Whitfieldella cf. oblata,  Resserella elegantula, Howellella H. crispa, Rhynchonellid sp., Striispirifer niagarensis, Diabolirhynchus acinus, Dictyonella corallifera, Boucotinskia sulcata, Plectatrypa nodostriata, Lingula lamellata, Rhynchotreta R. americana, Stegerhynchus neglectum,  and 12 undetermined specimens.

Bivalves: Cornellites emacerata and undetermined specimen

Gastropods: Platyceras niagarensis, Naticonema niagarensis, and Niticonema sp.

Cephalopods: Cyrtoceras cancellatum, Orthoceras sp. and Dawsonoceras americanum

 Graptolites: Acanthographtus granti, Desmograptus micronematodes, Dictyonema gracilis, Dictyonema retiforme, Dictyonema crassibasale, Inocaulis ramulosus, and 2 undetermined specimens

Worm tubes: Cornulites sp., Cornulites bellistriatus, and Cornulites arcuatus.

Trace Fossils: Diplichnites (tracks), Rusophycus bilobatum, Bifungites halli, and undetermined

Other Fossils: Prototaxites sp., Paracarcinosoma sp., Tentaculites niagarensis, Onchus deweii, Sphenothalus sp.

Rochester Shale Fossils at Smithsonian 2010

Crinoids: Icthyocrinus laevis, Macrostylocrinus sp., Lyriocrinus dactylus, Stephanocrinus angulatus, Saccocrinus speciosus, Homocrinus parvus, Crinobrachiatus brachiatus, Dendrocrinus longidactylus, Lecanocrinus macropetalus, Gazacrinus sp., Eucalyptocrinites caelatus, Catatonocrinus sp.

Cystoids: Apiocystites elegans, Caryocrinites ornatus

Dalmanites limulurus Trilobite Displayed at Smithsonian 2010

Trilobites: Arctinurus boltoni, Bumastus ioxus, Calymene niagarensis, Dalmanites limulurus, Decoroproetus corycoeus, Dicranopeltis nereus, Illeanus insignis, Trimerus delphinocephalus and undetermined

My reason for buying the book was help with identification of Waldron Shale fossils which I find mostly as fragments.  The only guides I know of are old books (by paleontologists James Hall, Frank Springer, August Foerste, Henry Nettelroth, and Charles Beecher), websites like Indiana State Museum collections, eBay, Indiana9Fossils, and Week's Trilobites, and academic papers.  The Primitive Worlds group (Ray Meyer, Kent Smith, Gene Thomas, Paul Chinnici, and Fred Barber) are the only ones I know of doing extensive collecting, prepping, and selling of Silurian Period fossils like these.

The guide did not help me with brachiopod identification as I had hoped.  They have quite a few unknown ones as well. I do not believe their identification of the Homeospira cf. evax is correct.

As for recommendations, the price of this guide is steep for the material it presents and the pictures too small to allow for good identifications of fossils like crinoids.  If you are looking for identifications or like pictures of very nice trilobites and crinoids and can afford the around $80 with shipping, buy the 233 page picture book.  If you have a locality that has exposed Rochester, Osgood, Waldron, or Brownsport Shales then the guide would be a good starting point for you if you cannot pay the $80 for the book.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Uranium Book Review

Just finished reading Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock that Shaped the World by Tom Zoellner (Viking,2009). The book illuminates various places across the Earth touched by national quests to harness the power of uranium. The second heaviest of the naturally occurring elements, uranium influenced governments behavior though last three-quarters of the 20th century. The book covers the element's discovery in Germany in 1789 leading to uncovering its radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896 and all the way to nuclear proliferation issues of today.

The author covers a broad range of facets of uranium and its applications.  Coverage tends to be light on science and statistics though. A lot of stories relate to people involved in the creation of the first American atomic bombs and the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to collect uranium and produce nuclear weapons. Portions of the book reveal aspects of the jobs involved, technologies, huge costs in human health/money and the environmental cleanups in mining and processing. It also covers nuclear weapon development in Israel, Iran, and Pakistan. The dilemmas Australia faced with uranium mining both culturally and environmentally as they possess 40% of the world's reserves.

My interest involved researching type mining localities from the 1800s for a possible future museum exhibit. The stories I found the most interesting was the history of uranium/radium discovery and early mining at St. Joachimsthal (Czechoslovakia). The exploration and mining conditions in Shinkolobwe (Congo), Utah (USA), St. Joachimsthal (Czech Republic), and Wismut mines (Germany) was educational.

One point in the book that has me somewhat confused is uranium's type location. The book highlights that Martin Klaproth, a Berlin pharmacist/chemist, discovered uranium in 1789 from material from St. Joachimsthal. Though Wikipedia lists a mine called Georg Wagsforth in Johanngeorgenstadt provided the material. I have also read Klaproth used materials from both localities to make his discovery.

Tales of uranium prospector Charlie Steen in his rags to riches to dementia were fascinating. One of the best stories was that of him accepting the outstanding-alumnus award from the Texas College of Mines in El Paso. The school had been renamed to Texas Western College as it expanding the circulum to vocational training and liberal arts. During his "acceptance" speech he railed against classes like Coaching Basketball, Real Estate Brokerage and Baton Twirling. He went further to state he would not accept the award unless it listed the school by its old name reflecting its mining history.

So how does this book relates to paleontology? On page 148, while talking about the 1950s Uranium Rush (akin to American Gold Rushes of 1800s), there is mention of uranium soaked fossil trees being found. Prospectors look for ancient stream beds that could contain fossilized trees. "These could usually be found in the Shinarump layer of sandstone, which was like a wedge of crunchy pink mortar between the Chinle and the Moenkopi formations."

The author includes the quote of a driller named Oren Zuflet who claims to have found an uranium dinosaur. Reviewing the source notes for the chapter found on page 307, his quote was from oral history archive at California State University, Fullerton which was created by Professor Gary Shumway. To back up that story, this YouTube video shows a dinosaur vertebrae fossil that reads up to 200 CPM.  [NOTE: I can see this video using Firefox browser but just see a window with an icon using Internet Explorer and Chrome browsers so here is the direct YouTube link:]

The book was sold with  two different covers. The one shown above is a picture of the one I read. Just a thought, what if the cover pictured uranium bearing green torbernite instead or an eye-catching fluorescent autunite. Maybe the designer wanted to show how plain such a powerful element can appear in its natural form. The other cover, which can be seen on, is probably more relevant to the content of the book dealing with nuclear weapons and the people involved in uranium mining/acquisition.

If you read the book, it might help to watch this next video showing some of the east German mining sites. The book covers the Czechoslovakia and German sites quite a bit because of the long history of the regions mines. They may have provided 80% of the uranium supply to former Soviet Union. The YouTube video shows Hartenstein (shaft 371) and Bergen in eastern Germany as part of an modern day uranium exploration adventure.  [NOTE: I can see this video using Firefox browser but just see a window with an icon using Internet Explorer and Chrome browsers so here is the direct YouTube link:]

All and all the book is a good read and one can learn all kinds of interesting stories about this element. The author seemed more interested in the weapon aspects of uranium than exploring expanded power uses. The end notes for the books can be found here. Learn more at Tom Zoellner's web site.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Unidentified Silurian Clam

This unidentified clam fossil found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.  The fossil is about 1 cm wide and 1.5 cm long. Fossil is from the Silurian Period. This is only the second type of clam I have found so far.

Clam fossil embedded in some pyrite crystals.

[UPDATE: This fossil also looks like a Rochester Shale brachiopod found by the group at Primitive Worlds that shows up as Unidentified identification #11 on page 41 of their book.

My calling this fossil a clam has to do with the shell being asymmetric.  Maybe this specimen has been deformed over time by geologic forces.  One way for me to find out is to find another one.]

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ammonite Fossil From Drügendorf

Unidentified ammonite fossil from Drügendorf, Germany of the Jurassic period (Kimmeridgian).  It is currently be prepped as you can see the air scribe marks on the internal whirl.  Thanks to Dave of Views of the Mahantango for this fossil.  Also thanks to Kenny for letting me photograph the fossil on his work table, he is still working on prepping.  I believe the marks will be air blasted smooth on the fossil surface next.

A new prep tool was used to help clear the excess matrix called Air Scriber 8315B with carbide stylus.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rhipidomella hybrida Brachiopod

A well preserved fossilized shell half of a Rhipidomella hybrida brachiopod of the family Rhipidomellidae named by Schuchert in 1913.  The genus Rhipidomella named by Ochlert in 1890 and the species hybrida named by Sowerby.

This specimen is the only one I have found in the Middle Silurian period Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.

Rhipidomella hybrida illustration
The Silurian Fauna of Kentucky
by August F. Foerste
Plate XXIII Figure 18

This brachiopod might be similar to the Dalejina hybrida (Dalejina = Mendacella) in the Rochester Shale of New York.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Syringothyrus texta Brachiopod

As Paleozoic brachiopods go, this is quite a large species.  One can see the ruler in the last picture showing this damaged specimen exceeding 6 cm in width.  Existing in the Mississippian Period, fossilized remains are found in the Borden Group and Spickert Knob Formation of Clark County, Indiana.  It is thought the identification of this fossil is Syringothyrus texta.

Thanks to Kenny for the fossil!

The Smithsonian National Museum of the Natural History has a display showing how various brachiopods anchored themselves to the sea floor.  See picture below illustrating the flat bottom of the Syringothyris textus.  This fossil is probably from the same locale as the one highlighted in this post.