Friday, April 29, 2011

Pteranodon Flying Reptile Postage Stamp

Here are two cancelled U.S. postage stamps from 1989 depicting the flying reptile Pteranodon.  This stamp was part of four set with the other three featuring dinosaurs.  The Pteranodon roamed the skies of the Late Cretaceous period with its range extending over the states Alabama, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Earlier posts show the Tyrannosaurus stamp: HERE and Stegosaurus stamp HERE.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pre-Cambrian Cyanobacteria

Kona Dolomite dated to over 2 billion years old. Thought to be a cyanobacteria colony (stromatolite). Found in the Kona Hills of Marquette County, Michigan. These early oxygen producers paved the way for more advanced lifeforms of the future.

These small pieces were cut from a larger piece that was sent to me.  They were then hand sanded using a variety of grit papers. Finally polished with the Dremel tool.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stegosaurus Postage Stamp

Here is a cancelled dinosaur stamp I found in my collection. It was part of set of 4 dinosaur/reptile stamps the U.S. Postal Service released in 1989.  The animals they selected were the Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Brontosaurus (Apatosaurus shown on stamp).  The fourth animal on the stamps was the Pteranodon which is not a dinosaur but a flying reptile.

The Stegosaurus was a dinosaur found in the Late Jurassic Period.  According to Wikipedia, its name means "roof lizard".

Earlier I posted the Tyrannosaurus stamp HERE.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Extraordinary Fossils Lecture by Derek Briggs

Trinity College Dublin posted a fossil lecture video on YouTube on December 23, 2010. The lecture is by Professor Derek Briggs, Director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History entitled Extraordinary fossils Windows on the history of life on Earth. The location was the Botany Lecture Theatre of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Lecture was given on December 10, 2010.

Learn more about Derek Briggs HERE and the Briggs Laboratory HERE Thanks to pleecan for posting a message about this video on the Fossil Forum.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Platystoma niagarensis

 Fossil is the Playstoma niagarensis found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.  This is a somewhat large fossil for this locale measuring about 3 cm in diameter.

If you would like to purchase this fossil, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Punctospirifer depressus

The Punctospirifer depressus brachiopod fossil found in the state of Illinois.  This small animal existed in the Pennsylvanian Period.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tyrannosaurus Postage Stamp

Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and it only took a 25 cent stamp to mail a letter in the United States.  Ahhh, now both such creatures are extinct.

Rummaging around in my stamp collection I found this cancelled stamp collected over 20 years ago.  It was part of set of 4 dinosaur/reptile stamps the U.S. Postal Service released in 1989.  The animals they selected were the Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Brontosaurus (Apatosaurus shown on stamp).  The fourth animal on the stamps was the Pteranodon which is not a dinosaur but a flying reptile.

UPDATE: I originally grouped the Pteranodon in with the dinosaurs but an observant reader pointed out that it is really a reptile in the pterosaur genera.  To quote the Pteranodon entry on Wikipedia: "Pteranodon was a reptile, but not a dinosaur. By definition, all dinosaurs belong to the groups Saurischia and Ornithischia, which excludes pterosaurs. Nevertheless, Pteranodon is frequently featured in dinosaur books and is strongly associated with dinosaurs by the general public."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

$150000 Canadian Ammonite

From time to time I visit the web site of an Internet fossil dealer at to look at the expensive and exotic fossils for sale.  Listed on April 8, 2011 were a group of ammonite fossils from the Bearpaw Formation of southern Alberta, Canada.  An approximate 28 inch diameter fossil is the Placenticeras meeki from the Cretaceous Period is one fossil in this group on display.  The specimen labeled "Canada Ammonite M3" sold for $150000!  As of this writing two other smaller specimens are for sale for $6000 and $25000.

See pictures of the fossils at this web page:

Wow, that is one expensive invertebrate fossil!

What makes the fossil so valuable is that it is composed of a organic gem like material ammolite. Ammolite is a biogenic gemstone like pearl and amber. The material comes from the ancient shells of cephalopods.  The creature swam in what was known as the Western Interior Seaway which stretched from today's Arctic Ocean, through western Canada and United States and down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stephanocrinus - Case of the Triangular Stem

Over the last year or so while collecting fossils in the Silurian period Waldron Shale of Indiana, I have encountered pea size fossils.  These little flower bud looking fossils have one unique characteristic that makes them stand out.  The base of the fossil has an almost equilateral triangle shape. How often do you see this type of shape in organic creatures?

Early paleonotology studies done by George Greene (1894-1906) of New Albany, Indiana and James Hall (1878-1891) of New York noted this triangular shape.  No explanation given as to why the creature evolved this way.  It was thought to be crinoid but has characteristics of a blastoid.

In 1962, Robert Fay of the Oklahoma Geological Survey published a paper Ventral Structures of Stephanocrinus angulatus showing the crinoid belonged in the order of Coronata.  Fossils in this order had be identified as crinoids, blastoids and even cystoids.  He notes the characteristics of the order are: "All have three basal plates, with the azygous one in the right interior interradial position, five radials and five interradials that extend into coronal processes, and an anal opening on the adoral side of the coronal process at the junction of two adjacent radial limbs with the anal interradial. High ridges, in the form of pore-rhombs, extend at right angles to the sutures on the sides of the calyx, giving the appearance of a pore-rhomb cystoid. These ridges are superficial and are not extended in depth."

Dr. Carlton Brett of the University of Cincinnati did research of Rochester Shale (similar to Waldron Shale) fossils in which he comments on the Stephanocrinus in the 1981 book Colossal Cataract" The Geologic History of Niagara Falls edited by Irving Tesmer.   "The elongate, pyramidal thecae of this genus are among the most abundant echinoderm remains in the bryozoan-rich layers of the lower Rochester shale. Stephanocrinus possesses prong-like structures at the top of the theca and rather tiny coiled armlets. The stem, which is rarely preserved, was relatively short and attached by pad-like structure at its lower end."  He goes to say that maybe this an early version of a blastoid found later in the period.

In 2002, it was classified as a

See Stephanocrinus fossils else where on the Internet:

Stephanocrinus angulatus of the Rochester Shale

The New York Geological Survey web site showing it as a blastoid.  That is a nice image of a specimen!

Stephanocrinus documented in Naubug Beds of Kashmir

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fluorescent Uranium Glass Marbles

These unique glass marbles contain a small amount of the isotope uranium-238. When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, the uranium's electrons in a low energy state move to an excited energy state that emits a greenish light.

Uranium 238 is a naturally occuring isotope that has been used as glass coloring (uranium oxide) for almost 2000 years. In ancient Roman ruins dating back to around 80 A.D., a yellow glass mosaic was found that contained uranium oxide.

Two marbles in this set are different types. An approximate 1 inch in diameter marble that is cream colored opaque marble with a few minor indentations. This type of marble material might also be referred to as carnival or vaseline glass. The smaller marble is more transparent with a light green tone. It is very bright green under longwave UV light.

The pictures taken of the marbles include one under 30W fluorescent lighting and the other under UV LED flashlight (longwave ultraviolet - 395 nm). The marbles should glow under blacklight bulbs as well.
Similar marbles are for sale for a low price! You can buy uranium marbles here on eBay:


Next picture is of two other marbles both of clear uranium glass and underlit by UV light.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Unidentified Ammonite

A mineral collector asked me to look at this ammonite fossil he had in his collection.  He could not remember where he had acquired it which is problematic for identification.  I was wondering if anyone has any ideas how I might identify this.  I was guessing it is from Texas and maybe Cretaceous.  It has a pearl like finish on the visible shell.  The other side of the plate is pictured showing a light brown matrix the fossil is embedded in.

The fossil is about 7 inches wide.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Atrypina disparilis Brachiopod?

On January 15, 2011, I posted some pictures of a fossil I thought was some sort of Silurian clam.  The shell was asymmetric which led me to believe it was not a brachiopod.  After studying more of the work of two researchers at the New York State Museum, Charles E. Beecher and John M. Clarke I now believe it could be the Atrypina disparilis brachiopod.  Fossil was found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.

They originally called it Coelospira disparilis Hall 1852 but later used the other name.

As for the asymmetry, under Abnormalities they write, "A variation in adult shells, noticed only in rare instances, is a tendency to an asymmetrical development in the plications, as shown on plate 5, figure 18, where, by unequal growth upon the lateral portions of the shell, the median plication on the dorsal valve is deflected to one side, and the corresponding median sinus on the ventral valve displaced, the axial line of the shell being occupied by one of the strong plications bounding the sinus." Yikes, that was one long sentence!

Now after making this identification, I place a 50% certainty on it.  Another explanation is this is a fragment of an Athyris reticularis brachiopod.  Maybe part of one of the fossil flaked off as a thin layer which fooled me into thinking it was a smaller brachiopod.

The next image is Plate 5, figures 17-19 from the Memoirs of the New York State Museum Volume I Number 1 October 1889 entitled The Development of Some Silurian Brachiopoda by Charles E. Beecher and John M. Clarke.

See my original images and text: (Click here to see post).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Utah Dinosaur Bone

Unidentified dinosaur bone cross section found in the Morrison Formation of Utah.  The fossil appears to be from the Jurassic Period.  Dimensions of specimen are 3" x 2.75" x 0.03125-0.5" with a weight of 3.8 oz. Acquired on eBay from seller pondcityrocks.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dokophyllum intertrium Horn Coral

The Dokophyllum intertrium horn coral fossil found in the Waldron Shale of Clark County, Indiana.  This creature existed in the Middle Silurian Period (about 425 million years ago). The Indiana State Museum has another specimen in the on-line database that can be seen here: CLICK HERE FOR WEB PAGE!

Thanks to Alan for letting me photograph his fossil.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shark Jaw Fossil at Kentucky Coal Mine

The jaw bone with several teeth was found of the Edestus shark.  Coal miner Jay Wright discovered the fossil on February 24, 2011 at the Dotiki Mine in western Kentucky county of Webster.  The fossil measured approximately 46 cm.  It was located about 213 meters down in the mine.
Edestus protopirata Shark
Drawing by Dmitry Bogodanov - Wikipedia Commons

Jerry Weisenfluh from the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) investigated the find after hearing about it. Professor Frank Ettensohn at the University of Kentucky estimates the shark the jaw belonged to could have been more than 6 meters long.  The shark is thought to be from the upper Middle Pennsylvanian Period (over 300 million years old).  Researchers at the KGS noted that Edestus jaw fossils have been found before in Kentucky in the Springfield and Herrin coal beds.

Edestus Fossil Cast - Courtesy of Mark Palatas

The nice thing is the mine let the miner keep the fossil he found.  As of April 2010, Business First reported the mine employed 367 people and produced an average of over 25 tons of coal per day. Dotiki mine is owned by Alliance Resource Partners operating out of Lexington, Kentucky and is listed on the NASDAQ: ARLP.

Learn more about this find and see the pictures of the fossils and people involved at the University of Kentucky UKNOW news web site CLICK HERE TO READ!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Great Fossil Census of 1878-79

The United States of America has just completed its country-wide census held every 10 years.  Census taking has been going on in the country a long time and not just of people.  Back in the 19th century another census was done of the fossils of Waldron, Indiana.  An area containing very fossilforous shale from the Silurian Period.  In the years of 1878-79, researchers from the New York State Museum descended on the area and shipped about seven tons to their processing facility.  A specific research project was conducted to determine the growth patterns in brachiopods of this locale from the specimens collected.

The plan was to separate the fossils from the matrix and established series of species showing their development from youth to maturity.  When publishing this research, it was hoped to have photographic representations of these series by species.  The paleontologists set out by washing the shale though different sized sieves.  This process produced about 50,000 brachiopods (most less than 5 mm in length).  These specimens were then sorted for study worthy product yielding approximately 15,000 fossils.

Researchers determined that at least 150 species existed in the shale representing brachiopods, bryozoa, corals, sponges, crustaceans, gastropods, crinoids, annelids, cephalopods, and lamellibranchs. 

Due to unspecified difficulties, only one photographic plate was produced entitled "Stages of Growth in Silurian Brachiopoda".  It has published in two halves but modern image processing reunites the image for your perusal. Four species are shown Dalmanella elegantula, Orthothetes subplanus, Rhynchotreta cuneata, Homoeospira evax.  The authors note this "plate was drawn on stone from a photograph, and serves to show, not the details of structure, but the character and completeness of the material which has served as the basis of this work."

The following pictures are of three of the four brachiopods used in the growth comparison image shown previous.  I do not believe I have found a Dalmanella yet. What I learned was the Homoeospira can slightly change appearance as it ages.  In the past, I have seen variations thinking they were a different genus.  The authors of this research point out in their summary that it is difficult to distinguish different juvenile brachiopod fossils.

The research was presented in the Memoir of the New York State Museum pages 1-95 and plates i-viii published in 1889. by Charles Emerson Beecher and John M. Clarke.  It was republished in 1901 in Studies in Evolution by Charles Emerson Beecher with updated brachiopod names.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Unidentified Fossil from Indiana

 This black fossil is somewhat of a puzzle.  It was found in the Jeffersonville Limestone of Clark County, Indiana, USA.  This layer would be Middle Devonian (approximately 390 million years ago).  It is mixed in the remains of crinoid stems. Length is about 2.5 cm and it branches several times with maybe 18 offshoots.

Is it some sort of graptolite or plant remains washed in from another area?