Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Troost Starfish Fossil

The picture above is the first published drawing of an American starfish fossil. It was identified as Palaeaster antiqua in the publication Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 64 A Critical Summary of Troost's Unpublished Manuscript on the Crinoids of Tennessee by Elvira Wood (1865-1928), a graduate student at Columbia University, New York City 1909. A PDF scan can be found at this PDF link on the Internet.

Gerard Troost (1776-1850) described it as on pages 105-106 (Bulletin 64): "I described the Asterias antiqua in a memoir read before the Geol. Soc. of Pennsylvania, which was published in the transactions of that society in April, 1834 (vol. 1, pag. 232). Since that time two naturalists have given the name of Asterias antiqua to different species of Asterias - Hisinger in his Lethaea Sveciaca Holmiae 1837 pag. 89 Tab. 26, fig. 6, and Professor Locke of Cincinnati. (I do not recollect where the latter was published his description.) As the Tennessee fossil has priority, I will continue to consider it as Asterias antiqua. ...

It occurs in Decatur County, Tennessee in Silurian Limestone. The second above mentioned although very mutilated, I will now describe under the name of Comatula? prisca - and the third under the name of Asterias tennesseeæ.

The Asterias antiqua is a rare fossil. -The specimen here figured is the only one that I have seen - very rarely fragments of it are found. They are generally so incorporated with the limestone, that is a impossible to develop any from its matrix. The one which is here figured was brought to light by erosion; it fortunately lying parallel to the eroded at its surface; -the fossil, being likewise carbonate of lime, is also more or less eroded at its surface. It was found in the Silurian limestone on Harpeth River, Davidson County, Tennessee. Associated with Spirifer lynx [Platystrophia biforata lynx], Cyathophlla [Streptelasma], Orthis [Dalmanella testudinaria], &c."

Elvira Wood on page 106 (Bulletin 64) states, "The only starfish in the Troost collection is in the possession of Prof. Charles Schuchert. He informs the writer that Hall's description of this specimen is erroneous and that it belongs to a new genus. A description of both genus and species will soon be published by Professor Schuchert."

As it turns out in 1915 Charles Schuchert (1858-1942) published Bulletin 88 (Google Book link) entitled Revision of Paleozoic Stelleroidea with Special Reference to North American Asteroidea and as he told Ms. Wood he describes it on pages 86-87. He lists it as Mesopalæaster (?) antiquus (Troost). Dr. Schuchert writes "Although this is the first recorded American fossil starfish, very little is known about it and that little is mostly of a misleading nature. The specimen lies on a limestone slab and is very badly weather-worn or it may haven been treated with hydrochloric acid so that now is a nothing more than a polished section of a starfish. An illustration that will show its actual characters can not be made.

Professor Hall errs in stating that Asterias antiqua has "ambulacral grooves occupied by a single row of subquadrate ossicula, which extend across and alternate with adambulacral plates of each margin. * * * It is possible that this character may prove to be a generic importance." It may have been this character on which Hall thought of basing the genus Argaster, but he does not characterize it nor even mention that the name in parenthesis is intended as a new term with Asterias antiqua Troost as the genotype. This species, like all other Paleozoic starfishes, has double columns of ambulacral plates. This the specimen clearly demonstrates on the edge of the slab where the distal parts of the rays are broken away. Argaster should therefore be regarded as a nomen nudum, and should A. antiqua prove to be a Mesopalæaster, it should not be made to displace this genus.

Asterias antiqua has about 15 inframarginal plates in each column and about 32 in each adambulacral column. Two of the latter plates meet as usual in a pair of triangular oral armature pieces.

Each axil is occupied by two large, quadrangular, basal inframarginal plates. Between these proximally there is a large, widely triangular, interbrachial plate the apex of which may or may not attain the margin. Proximal to each axillary interbrachial plate and between the four or five pairs of axillary adambulacral plates, there is in the specimen an open space in each of the five areas. What additional plates, if any, occupied this area is not determinable. It may be that the axillary interbrachial plates occupied the entire interbrachial areas and that the present hiatus is due to the worn condition of the specimen. This appears to be the most natural interpretation as it is the normal interbrachial structure of Mesopalæaster. In Promopalæaster there are always two, three, five, or seven interbrachial marginal plates in each area, a fact which excludes Asterias antiqua from that genus.

The abactinal area is not visible, but many of these plates are squeezed beyond the inframarginals, showing the presence of numerous small plates recalling Mesopalæaster and Promopalæaster."

Charles Schuchert mentions locality [described by Troost earlier in this posting] as "This is apparently the same horizon as that about the city reservoir in Nashville, which is now regarded as of Upper Trenton (Catheys) age. The specimen is in the United States National Museum Cat. No. 39914."

Below is the image of the actual fossil from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History database of USNM PAL 39914 of holotype fossil of Asterias antiqua. It has a title IRN 3114318 1 by Suzanne McIntire. It is listed as having Other Content – Usage Conditions Apply if one wants to use the image for educational, non-commercial use. This image is available at this link https://collections.nmnh.si.edu/search/paleo/?ark=ark:/65665/326b6f97c64df42648c60e87a6f2a1322

If you compare the drawing from Troost's original work and picture of the actual Troost fossil they match up in terms of shape and rough detail. Comparing a modern day digital camera picture to a hand etched image made on plate for printing from 1835-1849 shows a loss of detail on the drawing. Dr. Schuchert made a reference that it appears the fossil he studied in 1909-1915 had been etched with acid. The drawing shows a more three-dimensional starfish while the picture is more 2-D. Dr. Troost mentions the fossil being of "carbonate of lime" and being a trained chemist would put acid on a fossil like this. So maybe it was acid treated when it was with Dr. Hall in New York from 1855-1898?

Dr. Schuchert listed this fossil as being of a new genus he called Mesopalæaster. Checking on the web site Fossilworks they list is as being a synonym of Hudsonaster Stürtz 1899.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Troost's Unpublished Manuscript and the Actinocrinus Crinoid



Recently, I purchased a book containing the Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 64 A Critical Summary of Troost's Unpublished Manuscript on the Crinoids of Tennessee by Elvira Wood, a graduate student at Columbia University, New York City 1909. Even though PDF scan copies can be found on the Internet, I wanted the original printed plates to make images from. Also, the book has given me an opportunity to learn more about the characters from America's invertebrate paleontology "golden age". I hope to document more on this blog about the paleontologist Dr. Elvira Wood and material from Bulletin 64.

The above image is a drawing of a reconstructed fossil of an Actinocrinus magnificus Wachsmuth and Springer 1897. It is specimen PAL 39900 and still shows up in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History database. Elvira Wood notes "The calyx plates are sufficiently preserved to show their number and arrangement as represented, but the arms are not preserved." The image was a reconstructed from Troost's fossil by Adolphus Heiman (1809-1862), his architect friend in Nashville. Colonel Heiman later died in the American Civil War after being taken a Confederate prisoner at Fort Henry. Troost named the fossil Actinocrinites Humbolti after Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) whose The Aspects of Nature he translated into Dutch in 1807 while in school in Paris, France. In Troost's own words from page 80 of Bulletin 64, "From the moment I became acquainted with it, I dedicated this splendid species to Baron von Humboldt in whose company I had often the honor to spend some of my time when in Paris." The fossil was discovered near White's Creek Springs, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA.

My interest in Gerard Troost (1776-1850) began when I was a volunteer at the Louisville Science Center around 2008-2012 (now known as Kentucky Science Center). I spent a considerable amount of volunteer time working in the collections department that housed the Troost mineral collection. The collection was acquired by the Louisville Library in 1882 for $20,500. It was raised through a series of lotteries. The public library moved the collection from their basement to Louisville Museum of Natural History & Science building in 1977. I believe the Troost mineral collection was moved to the Indiana State Museum in 2019. 

Time has not been kind to Gerard Troost's legacy. His natural history collection was broken up after his death in 1850 and a lot of his papers lost. It took decades for his mineral collection to finally find a home in Louisville but by that time a number of the valuable specimens were missing. The meteorite portion of the collection was later transferred John Lawrence Smith (1818-1883) whose estate sold it to Harvard Museum. In 1937, the Ohio River flooded downtown Louisville and submerged most if not all of the mineral collection. A lot of the labels were lost and a number of specimens destroyed. Once the Louisville museum converted to a science center the collection was put in storage and not really utilized. Hopefully, the Indiana State Museum will be able to put more of it on exhibit. Dr. Troost briefly lived in New Harmony Indiana during 1826 and the museum created a New Harmony exhibit in 2012. Troost finally settled down in Nashville Tennessee. In 1849, he completed a manuscript describing 84 species of crinoids plus some blastoids/cystoids and a starfish. He could not raise the money in Tennessee to publish this work so he sent it to the Smithsonian for publication. Dr. Troost died a few weeks later. Authorities there pass it to Dr. Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) who gave it to Dr. James Hall (1811-1898) for review. He did not finish his review and it was returned to the Smithsonian after his death in 1898. The manuscript was given to Elvira Wood (1865-1928) who published it in 1909.

Due to being published 60 years after it was written a lot of the new fossils that had not been published thus named by Troost could not as later researchers published them. In Ohio State University's Dr. Bill Ausich's 2009 paper A Critical Evaluation of the Status of Crinoids Studied by Dr. Gerard Troost (1776-1850) analysis of  Elvira Wood's 1909 work, he found Troost was the valid author of 27 species and genus (Zeacrinites) of the 84 he listed in his manuscript. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Spiny Platyceras dumosum Snail Fossil

 


This fossil appears to be a Platyceras dumosum (Conrad, 1840) spiny snail (gastropod). It was found in 2020 in Clark County, Indiana USA. The layer it was found is called the Jeffersonville Limestone which dates to the Middle Devonian Period.

The genus Platyceras was named by Timothy Abbott Conrad (1803-1877) in Third Annual Report on the Palaeontological Department of the Survey. New York Geological Survey, Annual Report 4(1):199-207 1840.

Thanks to Kenny for the picture.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Productus wortheni Brachiopod Fossil

 

This picture is of a Productus wortheni (Hall, 1858) brachiopod fossil. It existed in the Mississippian Period. The fossil was found in Carwood Formation (part of the Borden Group) of Washington County, Indiana USA. 

Thanks to Kenny for the picture.

The genus Productus was named by James Sowerby (1757-1822) in the work The Mineral Conchology of Great Britain or Coloured Figures and Descriptions of Those Remains of Testaceous Animals or Shells, Which Have Been Preserved at Various Times and Depths in the Earth, London: printed by Benjamin Meredith, Silver Street, Wood Street, Cheapside, MDCCCXII (1812). Book link here.

On page 153, he describes it as "GEN. CHAR. An equilateral unequal-valved bivalve with a reflexed, more or less cylindrical, margin; hinge transverse, linear: beak imperforate*; one valve convex, the other flat or concave externally. * This term is used because it was formerly paced among Anomiæ, which included perforate and imperforate.

No one not usually conversant with the subject, would conceive the shells I have collected for this Genus could be in any way related to the Genus Anemia of Linnæus, but as yet there seemed no other place for them in the system 5 nor do they agree with any of the Genera established by later Authors. Martin has pointed out several divisions of the Genus Anomia; one of them which he defines to be "imperforate, with one valve gibbous, the other flat or concave, hinge on a straight line," includes these shells and I expect several others, as he considers the reflected margin to be accidental. His Conch. Anomites productus is a good type of the Genus, therefore, as the name Anomites must be laid aside, I have adopted his specific name as the Generic one, the character it expresses being also peculiar. It is highly gratifying to me that I have the means of showing so many new Species of such a curious Genus as this from Scotland, by the help of the indefatigable, ingenious, and zealous Friend to science, the Rev. John Fleming of Flisk; every one must feel pleased at his generous desire to facilitate knowledge by trusting such delicate specimens so far, and further at his desire to commemorate the late Mr. Martin, by naming this Genus after him, for his superior talent in showing the divisions in the old Genus Anomia, but as the name Productus appeared so applicable, I was loth not to use it, so have been content to apply his name to the species I have robbed of the Generic one."

Below image is of Tab. LXVIII Figure 3 from book showing Productus spinulosus brachiopod fossil.



Saturday, November 21, 2020

Pentagon Shaped Crinoid Fossils

 


This picture is of a set of crinoid pentagon shaped fossils that once made up a column. They existed in the Mississippian Period. The fossils were found in Carwood Formation (part of the Borden Group) of Washington County, Indiana USA. 

There are also a few impressions of brachiopods and near the bottom left corner a spiral shape that I am not sure what kind of creature it belonged to.

Thanks to Kenny for the picture.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Pronothrotherium typicum Sloth Fossil

 

This picture is of a Pentacrinites briareus (Ameghino, 1907) ground sloth fossil. It was found in Argentina. The fossil dates to the Pliocene Epoch (5.3-1.8 million years ago).

The fossil was on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Pentacrinites briareus Crinoid Fossil

 

Today's fossil is from the old hunting grounds of the famous collector Mary Anning. This picture is of a Pentacrinites briareus (Miller, 1821) crinoid (sea lily). It was found in Lyme Regis, England. The fossil dates to the Jurassic Period (206-144 million years ago).

The fossil was on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. Accession number is P1892a.

The genus Pentacrinites was named by Blumenbach in 1804.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Trigonia thoracica Mollusk Fossil

 


The fossil for today's posting is Tennessee's state fossil (I think, the genus name is slightly different). This bivalve mollusk is called Trigonia thoracica (Morton, 1834). It existed in the Cretaceous Period (144-65 million years ago). The fossil was found in the Tennessee USA.

The fossil was on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. Accession number is PE9161.

The genus named by Bruguière in 1789.

Source:

U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 137, The Fauna of the Ripley Formation on Coon Creek, Tennessee by Bruce Wade, 1926.

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Professional_Paper/G8NRAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=trigonia%20thoracica&pg=PP9&printsec=frontcover

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Acer Maple Leaf Fossils

 



Oh, Canada. Today's post is Canada's national symbol showing pictures of  maple leaves plant fossils called Acer sp. (Linnaeus). These plant fossils date to the Oligocene Epoch (33.7-23.8 million years ago). They were found in the state of Oregon, USA. 

The fossils were on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. 

These fossils were only identified by their genus name. The name Acer is attributed to Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) the Swedish botanist and "father of taxonomy" who used the common Latin name for maple trees. The name was derived from Indo-European origins meaning "sharp". I believe he named it in Systema Naturae 1758 part 8.




References:

https://www.fnps.org/assets/pdf/palmetto/v13i4p8austin.pdf

https://ebrary.net/27999/environment/maple

https://earthlingnature.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/the-history-of-systematics-plants-in-systema-naturae-1758-part-8/

Monday, November 16, 2020

Quercus berryi Leaf Fossil

Above is a picture of an oak leaf plant fossil called Quercus berryi (Trelease, 1918). This plant fossil dates to the Oligocene Epoch (33.7-23.8 million years ago). It was found in the state of Oregon, USA. While not listed on the label, this might be from the John Day Basin.

The fossil was on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. Accession number is UP525. It is part of a plant leaf fossil collection on display.

Renamed by William Trelease (1857-1945) in 1918. The Ancient Oaks of America. Memoirs of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden 1: 492–501. It looks to me he changed the name of Q. breweri Lesquereux 1883 not Wats. to Q. berryi n. nom.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Quercus simulata Leaf Fossil


 Above is a picture of an oak leaf plant fossil called Quercus simulata (Knowlton, 1898). This plant fossil dates to the Miocene Epoch (23.8-5.3 million years ago). It was found in the state of Washington, USA. While not listed, it possible this specimen is from the Latah Formation.

The fossil was on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. Accession number is P22229. They have a nice collection of plant fossils on display.

This type of leaf specimen was described by Frank Hall Knowlton (1860-1926) in the U. S. Geological Survey Eighteenth Annual Report., Part. 3, page 728, plate 101, figures. 3,4; plate. 102, figures 1, 2 1898 in the Payette formation of Idaho.

Knowlton later identified in the Latah formation of Washington in U. S. Geological Survey Prof. Paper 140, page 38, plate 22 figures 3, 4, 1926. See leaf image from figure 3 below.



Source A Revision of the Flora of the Latah Formation by Edward Wilber Berry.

https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/0154h/report.pdf

Friday, November 13, 2020

Waldron Shale Cystoid Holdfasts?

 


On September 21, 2020, I posted this fossil but was unsure what exactly it was. After consulting with my cousin Kenny and Ken (a Waldron Shale fossil hunter of over 40 years), I am leaning toward and identification that this fossil is a cluster of cystoid holdfasts.

Kenny showed me a paper entitled Taphonomy of diploporite (Echinodermata) holdfasts from a Silurian hardground, southeastern Indiana, United States:palaeoecologic and stratigraphic significance by James R. Thomka and Carlton E. Brett published in 2014 at Geol. Mag. 151 (4) in 2014 pages 649-665. It shows a variety of fossils similar to the one pictured that are thought to be parts of Silurian cystoid fossils.

A link to that paper is here:

http://webcentral.uc.edu/eprof/media/attachment/eprofmediafile_2376.pdf



The fossil was found the Silurian Period (Wenlock: Homerian Stage) in Clark County Indiana, USA. If this fossil is a series of holdfasts, then they grew in close proximity to one another.

I have found numerous cystoids in the Waldron Shale notably Caryocrinites (Say, 1825) and Holocystites (Hall 1864) aka Megacystites (Hall, 1865). See previous entries:

https://louisvillefossils.blogspot.com/2010/06/holocystites-cystoid.html

https://louisvillefossils.blogspot.com/2011/08/caryocrinites-cystoid-in-matrix.html

https://louisvillefossils.blogspot.com/2011/10/caryocrinites-persculptis-cystoid.html

https://louisvillefossils.blogspot.com/2012/05/pyrite-encrusted-caryocrinites-cystoid.html

https://louisvillefossils.blogspot.com/2012/12/silurian-caryocrinites-cystoid-fossil.html

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Cheiropteraster giganteus Brittle Star Fossil

 


The image shown above is brittle star echinoderm fossil called Cheiropteraster giganteus (Stürtz 1890). This animal fossil dates to the Early Devonian Period between 409 and 403 million years ago of the Paleozoic Era. While not labeled the fossil was probably found in Germany.

The fossil was on display in the entrance way of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. Accession number is P 1029.

I believe the genus and species was named by Bernard Stürtz (1845-1928) in 1890.




Monday, November 9, 2020

Mortoniceras leonensis Ammonoid Fossil

 


The image shown above is ammonoid mollusk fossil called Mortoniceras leonensis (T.A. Conrad, 1857). This animal fossil dates to the  Late Maastrichtian Stage, Cretaceous Period between 144 and 65 million years ago of the Mesozoic Era. It was found Texas, USA. 

The fossil was on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. Accession number is PE3908.

Species named by Timothy Abbott Conrad (1803-1877).

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Acanthoscaphites nodosus Ammonoid Fossil

 


The image shown above is ammonoid mollusk fossil called Acanthoscaphites nodosus (Owen, 1852). This animal fossil dates to the  Late Maastrichtian Stage, Cretaceous Period between 144 and 65 million years ago of the Mesozoic Era. It was found Montana, USA. 

The fossil was on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. Accession number is PE3908.

Species named by David Dale Owen, he collected during geological surveys of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Published in 1852 and at that time called Scaphites nodosus. The genus was named by Nowak in 1912.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Neuropteris inflata Fossil of Mazon Creek

 


Above is an image of part of a seed fern frond plant fossil called Neuropteris inflata (Lesquereux). This plant fossil dates to the age Moscovian/Desmoinesian of the Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) Period between 354 and 290 million years ago. It was found Mazon Creek, Illinois, USA. Like most fossils found at this locality, it was inside a nodule. The layer to fossil was found is the Francis Creek Shale.

The fossil was on display in the Evolving Planet section of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago Illinois, USA as of August 2020. Accession number is P30763. They have quite an extensive collection of Mazon Creek fossils at the exhibit.

The Field Museum produced a visual PDF of some of the fossils found at Mazon Creek. It can be found at this link:

https://fieldguides.fieldmuseum.org/sites/default/files/rapid-color-guides-pdfs/534_usa-age_fossils.pdf