Monday, July 30, 2018

Fossils at Obelisk in Central Park

If you visit New York City's famed Central Park, consider stopping by the Egyptian obelisk located behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The white limestone base the granite obelisk rests on contains a lot of visible fossils. The obelisk (known as Cleopatra's Needle) were created to celebrate the 30 year reign of pharaoh Thutmosis III (1479-1425 B.C).

Their original location was at the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis, Egypt. They were constructed from pink granite at the quarries in Aswan. Roman Emperor Augustus had them moved to the temple Caesarium around 12 B.C.

The Khedive Ismail Pasha of Egypt exchanged this obelisk for economic aid from the City of New York, United States in 1881. Earlier, it's twin obelisk was transferred to London, England in 1878.

The Romans added an Egyptian limestone base and steps plus 4 bronze crabs to stabilize the obelisk on its new base. Only two of the crabs partially survived when the obelisk was being made ready for transfer to the United States. Once it arrived, Brooklyn Navy Yard workers forged four new 418 kg metal crabs in about 10 days. Molten lead was used to secure the crabs to the obelisk thus re-enforcing the broken corners. The claws are inscribed in English telling of who replaced them.

The remains of the two original Roman bronze crabs are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Temple of Dendur exhibit. It looks like they were mostly plundered for their metal or as souvenirs by long ago visitors. The claw has a Greek inscription on the outside stating Roman prefect Barbarus and architect Pontius erected the obelisk in the 18th year of an emperor (Augustus?). The original metal crabs were donated by Lt. Commander Henry H. Gorringe who transferred the obelisk to New York in 1880-1881.

When I first encountered the base I was not sure what type of fossils it was covered with at first I thought they might be pelecypods or brachiopods. Now I am convinced they are foraminiferan Nummulites fossils.

The fossils are somewhat worn, but the picture on the right with two orange arrows showing two Nummulites with their tops or bottoms cross sectioned.

The base and steps appear to be composed of an Eocene limestone from Egypt. This type of limestone was used to construct ancient Egyptian structures so they contain these fossils as well. Learn more at Wikipedia.

Most of the fossils I saw appeared to be Nummulites stacked on top of one another but picture on the left looks like a gastropod or ammonite whorl.

The picture on the right has an orange arrow pointing to what appears to be a fossil with some sort of spines. It might be a spiny brachiopod or some sort of echinoid.

So if you get a chance to visit New York City's Central Park, allot some time and visit the oldest man-made object in the park.

Learn more about this obelisk and its connection to New York City at Google Books site for The New York Obelisk or How Cleopatra's Needle Came to New York and What Happened When It Got Here by Martina D'Alton from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Spring 1993).

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Crinoid Stem Fossils at Metropolitan Museum of Art

While visiting New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art located at 1000 Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, I came across a number of crinoid stem fossils. They were embedded in the railing stone of a balcony on the 2nd level overlooking the Arms and Armory large room on the 1st level.

It is difficult to tell what age the fossils are from or location of where the stone was from. There are a lot of small crinoid stem pieces in the stone and maybe some other types of fossils.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Deinocheirus mirificus Limb Fossil

This is a cast of the front limbs of a Deinocheirus mirificus dinosaur fossil. It was collected by Z. Kielan-Jaworowska in 1965 at Altan Ulaa III in Mongolia. Fossil dates to the Late Cretaceous Period (72 million years ago).

Fossil on display at American Museum of Natural History in New York City USA as of July 2018.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Struthiomimus altus Dinosaur Fossil

This is the skull and jaws of a Struthiomimus altus dinosaur fossil. This animal resembled a modern ground bird and classified as a ornithomimid ("bird mimic"). It was collected in Red Deer Creek, Alberta Canada. Fossil dates to the Late Cretaceous Period (72 million years ago).

Fossil on display at American Museum of Natural History in New York City USA as of July 2018.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Xiphactinus Sword Ray Fin Fossil Cast

This is a cast of sword ray pectoral fin of a Xiphactinus audax. It was collected by M. Triebold in 1993 at Lane County Kansas USA. Fossil dates to the Late Cretaceous Period (85 million years ago).

Fossil on display at American Museum of Natural History in New York City USA as of July 2018.

Image below is a composite of 3 pictures.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Gyracanthus formosus Fish Spine

The spine fossil of a Gyracanthus formosus fish (front pectoral fin). Not much is known about this fish as all that is found of remains are spines. Fossil was found Newsham Colliery of Northumberland England. This fish existed in the Middle Carboniferous Period (325 million years ago).

Fossil on display at American Museum of Natural History in New York City USA as of July 2018.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Asaphus Trilobite Fossil Displayed at AMNH

I visited the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York city this month. It is a massive museum that I could not see in one day. Not for a lack of trying, in that I arrived well before they opened and left when they were about to close. My camera battery depleted about 30 minutes before I left.

While impressive displays and specimens are shown there, for an invertebrate fossil enthusiast, I was a little disappointed. They list their collection of these types of fossils at over 400,000 specimens but I think saw less than 30 on display. In the Grand Gallery was a trilobite display case with world-class specimens. This trilobite fossil was in the Ordovician section and named Asaphus kowalewskii. It was found in the Asery Formation of St. Petersburg, Russia. Accession number is Fl-74836 and was donated by the family of James Kaste.

The museum is a great place to visit. Their dinosaur collection has to be one of the best on Earth and I really liked the display on fossil sharks. Learn more about the museum at

Their trilobite exhibit was made possible by Dr. Martin Shugar, M.D. and Andy Secher who are also editors for the AMNH trilobite web site.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Egyptian-Greek Lion Statue Containing Fossils at The Met

Recently, I visited New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art located at 1000 Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street. It is an amazing museum. According to Wikipedia it is the 3rd most visited art museum and 5th most visited museum of any kind in the world (as of 2016).  They have extensive artworks from cultures all around the world including ancient Egypt and Greece.

While art and paleontology do not often mix I was able to find a few fossils in an item at the ancient Egypt exhibit.

The fossils were found while visiting the 15 BC Egyptian-Roman Temple of Dendur room, to the right of the temple when facing it are a number of artifacts (see above image of room). One is a reclining lion statue with a number of visible foraminiferan Nummulites fossils on it. The statue is from the Roman period (second to third century A.D.) from Bubastis Egypt. It is made from what appears to be an Eocene limestone from Egypt. A Greek inscription is in the front of the statue that translates to "Thnepheros daughter of Pitikas dedicated for good". Greek custom at the time was to use lion sculptures as funeral monuments. The museum bought the statue from the Egyptian government in 1912.

As for nummulite shell fossils, ancient Egyptians used them as coins and their name is derived from the Latin nummulus meaning "little coin".  This type of limestone was used to construct the pyramids so they contain these fossils as well. Learn more at Wikipedia.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cambrian Trilobites Found in Conasauga Formation

Trilobite fossils found in the Conasauga Formation of Murray County Georgia USA. These Middle Cambrian Period trilobites are known as Aphelaspis brachyphasis. Thanks to Kenny for these images.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Decaschisma pentalobus Blastoid Fossil

This fossil is quite a rare find. It was found during the Family Paleontology Camp on July 11, 2018 at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Diane Esery, a volunteer discovered it at the collecting pile at the edge of the parking lot. She donated it to the state park collection. That material is Waldron Shale brought in from a quarry in Clark County Indiana USA. It measures about 1 cm in length.

The blastoid fossil appears to be a Decaschisma pentalobus (Hall). It dates to the Silurian Period. Thanks to Alan for the images.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cambrian Trilobite Fossil from Georgia

This is an Aphelaspis brachyphasis trilobite fossil seen under a microscope. The creature dates to the Middle Cambrian Period. The fossil was found in the Conasauga Formation of Murray County, Georgia, USA.

Thanks to Kenny for images.

Monday, July 9, 2018

10 Years of Blogging

I have set this posting for exactly 10 years from the first posting on Blogger at 9:18 AM Eastern time July 9, 2008.  My motivation was to learn more about fossils and the Internet. Since that time I have succeeded in both these areas while at the same time realizing how much I still do not know.

While I am not quite as active as I once was in paleontology and I have somewhat exhausted the sites of fossils to find in Louisville. My activities now are more to visiting museums with fossils to see. In the next 10 years I hope to visit most of the famous museums in the United States and hopefully some more in Europe.

A lot of people have helped me along the way with identifications and images. Here are just a few I would like to thank: Kenny Popp (my cousin and fossil hunter extraordinaire), Herb Miracle (Louisville collector who has been a lot of places, find him on The Fossil Forum), Alan Goldstein (naturalist at Falls of the Ohio State Park, one of the most knowledgeable people in Louisville on its fossils), Dave Hayward (a great collector of fossils and super helpful with identifications - see more below at #6), Howard Allen (a Canadian petrologist who helped early on with my identifications with this blog), Mark Palatas (Louisville fossil dealer and one of the best authorities in the world on Paleozoic shark fossils), Paul Olliges (local volunteer/guide at the local state park and organizer of small meetings about fossils), Dr. James and Barbara Conkin (for hosting fossil meetings and writing local guidebooks), members of local fossil clubs I have been a member Kyana, Dry Dredgers and MAFIC, and all my readers who have motivated me on to keep posting information about the world around us. Thanks!

Looking at the stats for this site over its lifetime at its host, as of this writing all time views for the site are 942,162. This is my 1,900th post and Google Photo shows 5,609 pictures stored for this blog. The following posts have been the most popular by number of views.

#1 Paleontology and Dinosaur Hunting Radio Show on January 4, 2011
This post was about author Homer Hickam and paleontologist Jack Horner who visited Kentucky to give a lecture on dinosaurs. Some of my better dinosaur pictures were in this post including two I took of  replicas displayed at the Louisville Zoo.

#2 Dinosaurs Alive! at Louisville Zoo on January 23, 2010
Some nice images of dinosaur replicas found at the Louisville Zoo during a special exhibit. I spent some time Photoshopping some of the fences and signs out of the pictures to make them look a little more realistic.

#3 Determining Specific Gravity of Minerals on February 10, 2011
The entry did not have to do with fossils. For years, I volunteered at the Louisville Science Center (now known as Kentucky Science Center) showing visitors science related things (geometry, magnetism, electricity, DNA, solar energy, gravity, etc). The center houses items from the older Louisville Museum of Natural History and Science which include a very old American mineral collection. It seemed a like a good idea to develop an exercise about determining specific gravity so I made this. It was not used by science center so I published it here so maybe someone could get some use out of it. Since made this list it shows some people looked at it.

#4 Devonian Horn Coral - Tabulophyllum zaphrentiforme on February 17, 2009
Finally, a posting about a local fossil I found in Louisville. This horn coral while not large about 5 mm in length is a quite popular page on the site. I can only speculate but I think it is used by a teacher(s) for a natural science exercise judging from the comments left. I am glad it can help out with educating the public about our geological past.

#5 How To Be A Dunkleosteus on December 11, 2014
So I got caught up playing cell phone games (Jurassic World, Walking War Robots, Hungry Shark Evolution) that my nephews kept showing me. The Hungry Shark Evolution game had quite a few fossil creatures show up in it (Megalodon shark and Dunkleosteus arthrodire). So I posted some images from the game, I am guessing people playing the game showed up looking for hints/strategy about getting these creatures.

#6 St. Clair Pennsylvania Fern Fossils on April 19, 2010
This is a really nice fossil my friend Dave Hayward gave me. Dave is one of the most intense fossil collectors I have encountered since taking up this hobby. His passion to collect is amazing. He has a blog as well Views of the Mahantango about fossils that was active 2010-2016. This fossil is a beautiful example of what can be found in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, USA. It is so nice that I was contacted by the architects that created a new section of The Dallas Arboretum who wanted to use an image of it for their exhibit. See this link Fossils at The Dallas Arboretum from November 18, 2013 to see how that worked out.

All for now. Happy fossil hunting...

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Aphelaspis brachyphasis Trilobite Fossil

My cousin just returned from vacation and was able to make a brief visit to a Cambrian trilobite site. These pictures are of one of the trilobites he found. It appears to be an Aphelaspis brachyphasis trilobite fossil. The creature dates to the Middle Cambrian Period. The fossil was found in the Conasauga Formation of Murray County, Georgia, USA.

The fossil is quite small only about 1 mm long. It is next to another imprint of a larger trilobite but only part of its thorax is visible (look at rust colored part of image).

Nice find, Kenny!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Scallop Serving Dish at Biltmore Estate

While visiting the Biltmore Estate near Ashville, North Carolina, USA. I saw this plate in with a collection of other sea creature themed china serving dishes found in the Breakfast Room on the first floor. This purple serving dish appears to be based off a scallop.

The house is the largest private house in the United States and was completed in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II . Learn more about how to visit the Biltmore Estate at their web site.