Sunday, October 9, 2011

Orbitremites kentuckiensis Blastoid

Today's posting is a super rare treat! The fossil shown here is a paratype of the blastoid Orbitremites kentuckiensis.  This fossil is one of two left in the personal collection of Dr. James Conkin who named it.  The holotypes are stored at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (USNM PAL 127316): CLICK HERE TO SEE.   Amazingly, the Smithsonian has imaged these specimens in their database.  It is rare that I find specimens in their HUGE database that have been imaged.  Maybe they like pyritized blastoids which appear to be very rare.  The fossils might also consist of marcasite which if not properly stored can break down (pyrite disease) into melanterite and sulphuric acid.

Dr. Conkin tells the story of discovering the Coral Ridge Member (New Providence Formation or Knobstone Group) of Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA in 1957 and the pyrite fossil fauna there in his 2006 paleontological memoir "I SEE... WONDERFUL THINGS" on pages 101-103. He describes the area as "a frozen paradise of former life."  The book contains a bittersweet story about what happened to the third paratype specimen as a squirrel mistook it for a nut.

This is a very interesting book filled with images of fossils and stories of how they were found throughout his long career.  The locations range from China to throughout the United States (e.g. Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas).

Dr. Conkin also found another new species of this blastoid named Orbitremites coralridgensis.  The holotype (USNM PAL 127324) can be seen at the Smithsonian collection web site: CLICK HERE. Note the genus may now be known as Globoblastus.

Copies of this unique book might still be obtained from Hycliffe Publishing, LLC

P.O. Box 7434
Louisville, KY 40207-0434
TELEPHONE: (502) 895-4658
E-mail me at if you need help getting in contact with them. lists two copies available at libraries in the University of Iowa and Tulsa, Oklahoma: CLICK HERE

Thanks to Dr. Conkin for letting me photograph this fossil specimen.  Note fossil has been coated to help prevent marcasite breakdown.