Friday, April 27, 2012

200th Anniversary of the Academy of Natural Sciences

The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania turns 200 years old this year.  It was founded by seven individuals in 1812. One of these individuals was the early Dutch-American scientist Gerard Troost who lived in Philadelphia from 1810-1825. He was also the Academy's first president (see picture). Later in posting see bicentennial and mineral collection videos.

As documented in the The Popular Science Monthly of June 1894, who takes their information for Dr. W.S.W. Ruschenberger. He states that a number of young men in Philadelphia would meet in the evenings and study the laws of creation. A typical meeting place was John Speakman's apothecary shop on the corner of Market and Second Streets. On January 25, 1812, six persons (Dr. Gerard Troost, Dr. Camillus Macmahon Mann, Jacob Gilliams, John Shinn, Jr., Nicholas Parmantier and John Speakman) met and formed a society for the "cultivation of natural science". The minutes of the event (note one source says 6 people present but the minutes show Thomas Say signed this so there may have been a 7th person as the video states):
Resolve—The gentlemen present agree to form, constitute and become a Society for the purpose of occupying their leisure occasionally, in each other's company, on subjects of natural science, interesting and useful to the country and the world, and in modes conducive to the general and individual satisfaction of the members, as well as to the primary object, the advancement and diffusion of useful, liberal, human knowledge. And the said gentlemen present.pledge themselves to the formation and persevering support of this said intended society accordingly.
The society's constitution was agreed upon March 17, 1812. In that meeting it was stated:
Every individual of the present members, founders of the Academy of Natural Sciences, has equally felt that an association of this nature, tendency, operation and bearing, free and perpetually occlusive of political, religious and national partialities, antipathies, preventions and prejudices, is necessary for the easier and more perfect acquirement and the better progress of natural knowledge, wherever it may be desired. We will contribute to the formation of a Museum of Natural History, a Library of Works of Science, a Chemical Experimental Laboratory, an Experimental Philosophic Apparatus, and every other desirable appendage or convenience for the illustration and advancement of natural knowledge and for the common benefit of all the individuals who may be admitted members of our institution in the manner herein to be stated, or stated already.
The constitution was adopted on March 21, 1812 marking that day as the institution's beginning. See a copy of the Academy of Science portrait of their first president painted in 1824 by Charles Wilson Peale at the The Mineralogical Record Biographical Archive.

On May 7, 1812 Gerard Troost was elected the Academy's first president. He held this office until 1817 when William Maclure succeed him. Mr. Maclure would later recruit Gerard Troost to become part of the utopian experiment in New Harmony, Indiana. Learn more about that at a new exhibit at the Indiana State Museum (click this link).

The Academy stored its first specimens and equipment in a room at 121 North Second Street. Dr. Troost, Mr. Isaac Lea, Dr. Hays, and Mr. S. Hazard contributed minerals to the collection. On August 15, 1812 the Seybert mineral specimens were added to the collection.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University web site shows some items in a special bicentennial exhibit:

A commemorative video has been created by the Academy. A procedure that differs from what I was taught about collections management is one should wear gloves as to not contaminate specimens with body oils and dirt. When working with minerals, wearing gloves also helps prevent contamination when handling specimens with heavy metals or radioactive elements.

Video of mineral collection at the Academy

Sources for this posting: 
Web site of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The Popular Science Monthly, Sketch of Gerard Troost, pp.258-264, June 1894.

Wikipedia entry on Gerard Troost

Blog posting Louisville Fossils on Gerard Troost

Digital Collections of U.S. National Library of Medicine,  A biographical sketch of the late Thomas Say, Esq: read before the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, December 16, 1834, by Benjamin Hornor, page 26 (Extracts from the constituent Minutes of the Academy of Natural Science)

Picture from and is in the public domain. Source is History of Medicine image library a the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Glow In the Dark Dinosaur Coin!

The Canadian Mint is going to release a glow in the dark quarter which will mark its first ever use of this technology. They have chosen an image of the Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai dinosaur for one of the coin faces. This Late Cretaceous dinosaur was first found at Pikestone Creek, Alberta by science teacher Al Lakusta.

In a clever twist, the mint has a painted representation of the dinosaur on the quarter and when placed in the dark a photo-luminescent image of its skeleton emerges. The artwork was created by paleoartist Julius T. Csotonyi.

See the coin in its various visual forms at the Canadian Mint web site. Only 25,000 will be created and will sell for $29.95 (Canadian dollars).  VERY COOL!!!

The mint is planning three more dinosaur coins as well. It was interesting to see their commemorative coins for the 200th anniversary of the 1812 war between Canada and the United States. Looking at the U.S.Mint the only coin I could find about the War of 1812 was the Star Spangled Banner (written during the war) coins which will turn 200 years old in 2014.

Pachyrhinosaurus drawing by Nobu Tamura
Information for this posting sourced from:

Canadian Mint Press release April 17, 2012

Wikipedia Commons on Pachyrhinosaurus

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chinese Foraminifera Carboniferous Fossils

Here is a sample image of an Endothyra sp. foraminifera fossil from the Early Carboniferous of Guangxi region of southern China. It was found in the Shizexu Formation..  Specimen collected in the 1980s by Dr. James Conkin.

He has published an image similar to this one along with 32 other fossil images in a new paper entitled Louisville Studies in Paleontology and Stratigraphy No. 22, Reconnaissance Studies of Paleozoic Agglutinate Smaller Foraminifera from China Part 1 the Early Middle Devonian and Early Carboniferous of Guangxi Peoples Republic of China by James E. Conkin, Barbara M. Conkin, and Michael A. Popp.

It can be ordered from P.O. Box 7434, Louisville, KY 40207-0434 or e-mail

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cantabricanites? greenei Goniatite

This fossil is a rare find called Cantabricanites? greenei pyritized gastropod. It was found in the Coral Ridge Member of the New Providence Shale of Jefferson County, Kentucky. Dated to the Middle Mississippian Period (Osagean).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Glabrocingulum ellenae Gastropod

This fossil is a rare find called Glabrocingulum ellenae pyritized gastropod. It was found in the Coral Ridge Member of the New Providence Shale of Jefferson County, Kentucky. Dated to the Middle Mississippian Period (Osagean).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Red Hill Fossils

Here are some images of fossils found in material from Red Hill Pennsylvania. This Devonian (Famennian stage) matrix contains fish parts among other things. It might be part of the Catskill Formation.

Thanks to Dave for the material. See his blog for more info:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hederella Bryozoan

These pictures were taken using a microscope and are of bryozoan growing on crinoid stems. Fossils are from the Mississippian Period. They were found in the Glen Dean formation of Grayson County, Kentucky.

The byrozoan appears to be a Hederella sp. I believe these were named by Ray S. Bassler in a paper entitled The Hederelloidea a suborder of Paleozoic cyclostomatous Bryozoa (1939, Smithsonian Institution). He defined the genus as:
Zoarium attached to various foreign organic objects and rarely to pebbles or other inorganic substances, branching, consisting of a tubular axis composed of the earlier part of successive zooecia from which the zooecia bud laterally, alternately to right and left; tubes annulated transversely but finely striated longitudinally; apertures terminal, transversely-elliptical.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Science on the Edge: Radical Innovation in New Harmony

The Indiana State Museum (Indianapolis) is hosting a temporary exhibit entitled Science on the Edge: Radical Innovation in New Harmony from March 24 through October 28, 2012. The exhibit will highlight the scientists who participated in the grand Utopian experiment at New Harmony, Indiana in the mid-1820s till the 1830s. Learn more at their web site.
My interest in this exhibit is of a more direct nature, as I was the one who prepared the mineral specimen loan to the Indiana State Museum from the Louisville Science Center from the historic Gerard Troost mineral collection (1811-1850). Dr. Troost was a scientist who with his family lived in New Harmony, Indiana in 1825-1826. He and the French naturalist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur left from New Harmony in 1826 and explored parts of southern Illinois and eastern Missouri. This trip provided a number of mineral specimens like fluorite from Illinois and galena (lead) from Missouri.

New Harmony attracted scientists like William Maclure, Thomas Say, and Robert Owen whose sons later became well known geologists. The mineral pictures in this posting are a yellow fluorite from Europe, troostite (var. Willemite) from Franklin, New Jersey, and a malachite/azurite specimen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pentremites conoideus Blastoid

Pentremites conoideus blastoid fossils found in Borden Group, Salem Limestone, Hardin County, Kentucky. These fossils are from the Mississippian Period.

Thanks to Kenny for loaning me these fossils to photograph and to Mark for identifying them.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Arctinurus Hypostome

This fossil is what is left of a feeding scoop or hypostome of the Arctinurus trilobite. Long ago upon the seafloor that is now Clark County, Indiana this creature roamed around looking for food. Fossil came from the Silurian Period Waldron Shale.

See more about the Arctinurus at this previous posting. Thanks to Kenny for loaning me the fossil to photograph.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Brevispirifer? Brachiopod

I think this is some sort of Brevispirifer brachiopod. It is Devonian period and was found in the Jeffersonville Limestone of Jefferson County, Kentucky.

Check out the brachiopod identifications at the Falls of the Ohio State Park web site:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Index Fossils of North America

At the beginning of the year, I read the first posting of 2012 on the well-crafted and thought provoking blog, Fossils and Other Living Things about the book Index Fossils of North America. This book is one of my favorite references in my small collection of paper paleontology books. My copy is a 5th printing from 1955 and what makes it so special is the personal touches added by the last owner. Inside the cover, written in black ink is the inscription "W.D. Struby 1955".

The owner carefully marked the book in colored pencils using a system: phylum names underlined in blue-green, class in red, order in purple, subphylum in light green, subclass in red dashed lines, and all others in darker blue. So that tells us the person was organized and methodical. What intrigues me is the type of fossils Mr. Struby was highlighting in the plates.  As he took an interest in a genus or species, he would draw a green border around those figures and write the genus name (see picture later in posting).

As I began to use the book for help with identifications, it became apparent that we both looked at the same types of fossils.  Did he live in my area to be looking at similar brachiopods, trilobites, and crinoids? Of course, not all the fossils appear to be from the Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee area.

Illustrations he marked covered a wide variety of fossils as the Triticites fusulinidae, sponges Astrospongia and Recepticulites, Conularia, coral Hexagonaria, blastoid Pentremites, brachiopods Hebertella, Platystrophia, Pentameroides, Dictyonella, to name a few, Cyclonema gastropod, and trilobites Cryptolithus and Dalmanites. Many more fossils are highlighted and not all are ones I collected or even heard of but in general our fossil interest overlapped.

As with the fossils I find, there are many unanswered questions about previous owner who over 56 years penned his name to this book. Similar to the fossils I encounter, there are many questions that arise that will never find answers as the past has scattered that information like dust in the wind.

UPDATE: (9/1/2019) This book appears to have belonged to William Deming Struby (1921-1983).  A geologist who had an Oklahoma oil company, Boradi Petroleum Corporation. Further research needed.