Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Myliobatus Eagle Ray Toothplate Fossils

These images are of Myliobatus striatus? (Eagle Ray) fossils on display at Mace Brown Museum of Natural History (August 2017). They date to the Eocene Epoch (about 50-45 million years ago), Paleogene Period. The fossil was found in Santee Quarry, Harleyville, South Carolina USA.

The Mace Brown Museum of Natural History is located at the College of Charleston, 202 Calhoun Street, 2nd Floor, Charleston, South Carolina 29424.

Learn more at their blog: http://blogs.cofc.edu/macebrownmuseum/

 



Sunday, March 28, 2021

Paleontologist Marjorie O'Connell

 

 In honor of Women's History month, this entry is about a female paleontologist that had a brief career in this field. The above image is courtesy of Dr. Kathleen Dettwyler and might have been taken around 1920. Marjorie O'Connell was born on August 15, 1890 in Newark, New Jersey. She attended Ethical Cultural School in New York City on scholarship. Marjorie graduated in 1908 after attending for 15 years.

 


After high school, she attended Barnard College from 1908 till 1911 on scholarship. Barnard College was a school for women that was affiliated with Columbia University at the time which was all-male undergraduate. The above image was taken from the 1911 yearbook The Mortarboard for the Barnard College class of 1912. It was at this college that she encountered a famous paleontologist Professor Amadeus Grabau (1870-1946). He encouraged her to go to graduate school and study paleontology. It is possible she may have encountered another female paleontologist written about on this blog before Elvira Wood (1865-1928). Miss Wood would have been teaching at the college while getting her graduate degrees at Columbia University.

She officially graduated from Barnard College on June 6, 1912 but was already attending graduate school at Columbia University in New York City where she obtained her Master's in the Arts in 1912. She was a Curtis scholar from 1912 to 1913. O'Connell worked as curator and lecturer of Paleontology at Columbia University 1914 to 1916. She was an instructor of geology at Adelphi College 1913-1914. 

 


In 1914, she published a paper Revision of the genus Zaphrentis. The paper renamed the genus of two of the largest horn corals to ever exist to Siphonophrentis which is still recognized today. Picture above on a Siphonophrentis elongata fossil horn coral found in Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA.

Hercynella patelliformis (plate 1, figure 4) in Description of Some New Siluric Gastropods (1914)

 

Also in 1914 she published Description of Some New Siluric Gastropods and received the Walker Prize from the Boston Society of Natural History for it. In the paper, she named to new fossils Hercynella buffaloensis and Hercynella patelliformis. Unfortunately, it was misidentified it as a gastropod when it was really a bivalve (H. & G. Termier 1950).

In 1915, she named a Cuban foraminifera Orbitoides kempi in an article The Mayari Iron-Ore Deposits, Cuba. 


 
Marjorie O'Connell got her PhD in 1916 with an dissertation entitled The Habitat of the Eurypterida. As of this writing, Google Scholar shows this paper has been cited 52 times in other literature. After graduating, she was awarded the $1,000 Sarah Berliner Research Fellowship for Women in 1917-1918 which she used to do research at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Again Elvira Wood was working here as an assistant to the curator so their paths may have crossed. The product of Dr. O'Connell's research was a 212 page paper entitled The Schrammen Collection of Cretaceous Silicispongiae in The American Museum of Natural History (published in 1919).

Perisphinctes plicatiloides Cuban ammonite fossil she named in 1920

 Dr. O'Connell stayed at the museum till about 1922. While there she worked on Cuban ammonite fossils sent back by the famous dinosaur paleontologist Barnum Brown. She co-wrote a manuscript called The Jurassic Ammonites of Cuba which was never published. After a dispute about an entry in Encyclopedia Britannica she left AMNH and the field of paleontology in 1922. Though I did find one more reference to her attending the XVI International Geological Congress of 1933 held at Washington, D.C as Marjorie O'Connell Shearon. She may have presented with Dr. Grabau, who returned from China for a visit to the United States. Picture below used with permission by Dr. Kathleen Dettwyler.

She worked a number of odd jobs afterwards and later got married and worked for several government departments during the Great Depression and World War II. In Washington, D.C., she worked on healthcare lobbying as Dr. Marjorie Shearon. She died in 1974 outside of Washington D.C. Her professional papers were left to the University of Oregon at Eugene. To learn more about her interesting life, visit Dr. Kathleen Dettwyler 's website https://www.marjorieoconnellshearon.com/

Fossils She Named

Horn coral genus Siphonophrentis (1914)

Foraminifera species Orbitoides kempi (1915)

Ammonite species Perisphinctes cubanensis (1920)

Ammonite species Perisphinctes delatorii (1920)

Ammonite species Perisphinctes plicatiloides (1920)

Ammonite species Ochetoceras canaliculatum burckhardti (1920) 

Ammonite species Aptychus cristobalensis (1921) 

Ammonite species Aptychus cubanensis (1921)

Ammonite species Aptychus pimientensis (1921) 

Ammonite species Ochetoceras vicente dentatum (1922)

Conclusions

Her career in paleontology was deeply influenced by Dr. Amadeus Grabau. He inspired a number of students in this field with a special emphasis on female students. The web site about her mentioned above presents compelling evidence that O'Connell and Grabau had a long term romantic affair that she terminated around 1918. Once Dr. Grabau left for China and remained there the rest of his life (he made one trip back to the United States in 1933) Marjorie's attachment to the field of paleontology diminished. This was especially the case after she could not join Barnum Brown (1873-1963) on his world travels to hunt for fossils. At that point in her life, she could either work in a museum, the geological survey or teach. None of these options appealed to her so she left for higher pay in other professions.

 Publications or Ones She Credited with Helping

Grabau, Amadeus W. Principles of Stratigraphy, A.G. Seiler and Company, New York. 1913. page vi. [LINK] "To one of them, Miss Marjorie O'Connell, A.M., instructor in Geology at Adelphi College, Brooklyn, my special thanks are due for the careful and critical attention given for a period of a full year or over to both manuscript and proof, and to the verification of the literary references, and the endeavor, by patient library research, to make the bibliographies as serviceable as possible. To her prolonged search of literature for available material, I also owe many important references which I would otherwise have missed."

O'Connell, Marjorie. Distribution and Occurrence of the Eurypterids. Bulletin of Geological Society of America, 1913, Vol. XXIV, pp. 499-515.

O'Connell, Marjorie. Revision of the genus Zaphrentis. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. New York, February 25, 1914. pp. 177-192. [LINK]

O'Connell, Marjorie. Description of Some New Siluric Gastropods. Bulletin of Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, 1914, Vol. XI, pp. 93-103. Pl. 1. [LINK]

Kemp, J.F. The Mayari Iron-Ore Deposits, Cuba. Transactions of American Institute of Mining Engineers for 1915, pp. 11-13. Figures 5-6. [LINK] "The accompanying description has been kindly summarized by Marjorie O'Connell, M.A., Curator in Paleontology in Columbia University, who first detected the evidences of organisms in the rock." After her description of foraminiferan, Orbitoides kempi, she placed footnote 2 "Named in honor of the discoverer of the fossil, Prof. James F. Kemp of Columbia University. A complete description of this fossil will be published elsewhere."

O'Connell, Marjorie. The habitat of the Eurypterida. The Waverly Press. Baltimore, 1916. pp. 177-192. [LINK]

Grabau, Amadeus W. and O'Connell, Marjorie. Were the graptolite shales, as a rule, deep or shallow water deposits? Bulletin of Geological Society of America, Vol. 28, December 28, 1917. pp. 959-964.

O'Connell, Marjorie. The Schrammen Collection of Cretaceous Silicispongiae in The American Museum of Natural History. Bulletin of The American Museum of Natural History, Vol. XLI. New York, 1919. Art. 1, pp. 1-261, Pls. I-XIV. [LINK]

Grabau, Amadeus W. A Textbook of Geology Part I General Geology. D.C. Heath & Co. Boston. 1920 page ix. [LINK] "The entire proof was read by Dr. Marjorie O'Connell of the American Museum of Natural History," She also provided a number of original pictures used in this book.

O'Connell, Marjorie. The Jurassic Ammonite Fauna of Cuba. Bulletin of The American Museum of Natural History, Vol. XLII. New York, 1920. pp. 643-692 [LINK]

Grabau, Amadeus W. A Textbook of Geology Part II Historical Geology. D.C. Heath & Co. Boston. 1921 page iv. [LINK] "To Dr. Marjorie O'Connell I am especially indebted for careful and efficient work on the proof and illustrations."

O'Connell, Marjorie. New Species of Ammonite Opercula from the Mesozoic Rocks of Cuba. American Museum Novitates, No. 28, December 30, 1921. pp.1-15 [LINK]


O'Connell, Marjorie. Phylogeny of the Ammonite Genus Ochetoceras. Bulletin of The American Museum of Natural History, New York, July 12,1922. [LINK]

Brown, Barnum and O'Connell, Marjorie. Correlation of Jurassic formations of western Cuba. Bulletin of Geological Society of America, Vol. 33, September 30, 1922. pp. 639-664. [LINK]

References:

A big thank you to Dr. Kathleen Dettwyler for making a lot of previous unknown material available at this website: https://www.marjorieoconnellshearon.com/timeline-of-marjories-life.html

Bibliography The Habitat of the Eurypterida/Vita - Wikisource, the free online library

Citation to instructor 1913-1914: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015063895778&view=1up&seq=3  

ⓘ Hercynella is a genus of fossil bivalves of late Silurian or (google-wiki.info)



Monday, March 8, 2021

Top View of Snout Beetle Fossil

 


The point of view of this insect is really nice. I am use to seeing this insect from a side view. This image shows an unidentified snout beetle insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Digital Necromancy?

 

Gerard Troost
Picture of daguerreotype circa 1848
On Display at Tennessee State Museum - Nashville (2010)
Miss Margaret Lindsley Warden Collection
 Tennessee Division of Geology - Bulletin 84


Recently the website MyHertiage Deep Nostalgia™ became available that allows you to animate still pictures using artificial intelligence algorithms.  In a sense, it can allow one to digitally animate those that are dead.

As a test, I submitted two images of long dead paleontologists: Gerard Troost (1776-1850) and William Borden (1823-1906). I have documented their lives in earlier posts [Troost 12-13-2009 LINK & Borden 11-12-2009 LINK] and included still frame pictures used for this trial.

William Borden Picture from Baird's History of Clark County, Indiana (1909)
 



 


Assassin Bug Fossil

 


This image shows an unidentified assassin bug insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Winged Ant Fossil

 


This image shows an unidentified winged ant insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image.  

Below is a second winged ant fossil found in the same matrix.



Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Spider Fossil From Colorado

 


These images show an unidentified spider fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the images.


 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Cicada Insect Fossil

 


This image shows an unidentified cicada insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Unidentified Cone Fossil from the Florissant Formation

This image shows an unidentified leaf gall plant or cone fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Florrisant Snail and Plant Fossils

 

 

This image shows an unidentified snail and plant fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Florrisant Snail Fossil

 

This image shows an unidentified snail fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Colorado Insect Fossils

 




These images show unidentified insect fossils found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. They date to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the images.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Florissant Plant Fossil

 

This image shows an unidentified plant fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Nymph Insect Fossil

This image shows an unidentified insect nymph fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Winged Ant Fossil

 

This image shows an unidentified winged ant insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Doug for the image.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Unidentified Insect Fossils From Florrisant Colorado

 




These images show unidentified insect fossils found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. They date to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

The field of view (FOV) for the pictures in order of view: 1mm,5mm, 2mm, and 4mm.

Thanks to Kenny for the images.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Unidentified Florissant Insect Fossil

These images show unidentified fossils found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) for the top one is 6 mm and the bottom image is a close up of the insect's head. They date to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the images.


 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Unidentified Eocene Leaf Fossil

 


This image shows an unidentified leaf fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) is 4 cm. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Unidentified Insect Fossils

 






These images show unidentified insect fossils found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. They date to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

The field of view (FOV) for the pictures in order of view: 2mm,6mm, 8mm, 5mm, and 4mm.

Thanks to Kenny for the images.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Insect Larva Fossil

 

This image shows an unidentified insect larva fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) is 7 mm. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Termite Fossil

 

This image shows an unidentified beetle termite insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) is 2 mm. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.

UPDATE (2021-02-20): Kenny informs me this might not be a beetle but instead a termite. I have updated the labels in the post.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Bee Fossil

 

This image shows an unidentified bee insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) is 2 mm. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Ostracod Fossil


This image shows an unidentified ostracod fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) is 500 μm. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Ant Fossil

This image shows an ant insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) is 5 mm. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Unidentified Florissant Fossils

 


These images show unidentified fossils found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) for the top one is 2 mm and it could be a fragment of horsetail plant with predation holes. The second could be a seed or a coprolite and its FOV is 5mm. They date to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the images.


 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Possible Larva Fossil

 

This image shows an unidentified insect larva fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) is 3 mm. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Insect Fossil from Colorado

 


This image shows an unidentified insect fossil found in the Florissant Formation of Teller County, Colorado, USA. The field of view (FOV) is 5 mm. It dates to the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Fossil Woman Book

 

Recently, I acquired a new book entitled The Fossil Woman A Life of Mary Anning by Tom Sharpe (published by The Dovecote Press, 2020). The subject of this book is perhaps one of the best known fossil hunters known for finding Jurassic age marine fossils in the 19th century. It is somewhat rare that I buy a modern book about fossils but I was intrigued enough to purchase this book from Blackwells of Oxford, England and have it shipped to the USA. An added incentive was the author is donating part of the proceeds to a campaign in Lyme Regis to create and display a statue of Mary Anning.

Lyme Regis Museum building as it looked in August 2016. Site of the house where Mary Anning was born, lived and had her fossil shop till 1826. Original house was demolished in 1889 so museum could be built.

Lyme Regis England Coastline at high tide August 2016
 
The Cobb at Lyme Regis England in August 2016

The book is a creation of a lot of thorough research and contains modern images and events pertaining to Miss Anning. It clears up some of the myths and misinformation about this most famous paleontologist. As the author notes in his introduction, there is much information not known about Mary Anning due to a lot of her correspondence and journals being lost over time. Mr. Sharpe does a fine job with the material he does have to weave a story about her life. I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about Mary Anning, British paleontology in the 1800s, and the Jurassic coast of southern England.

Public domain image of William Buckland that is misidentified as Mary Anning. Picture can be found on Wikipedia at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Anning.jpg

One piece of misinformation I learned was an sketch of person walking along a landscape in a top hat and holding a rock hammer. It was misidentified as being Mary and drawn by De la Beche. Mr. Sharpe marked as image 40 in his book as being a Thomas Sopwith sketch of William Buckland in Snowdonia (Wales) in 1841. The image is on Wikipedia's entry for Mary Anning (as of this writing) and it references the image on page 78 of a document entitled "Nomination of the Dorset and East Devon Coast for inclusion in the World Heritage List" by the Dorset County Council in the year 2000 [LINK]. I also wondered about this image when I first saw it. How it was so different from the others of Mary. I assumed since she lived in poverty she would be very thin and the person in the image look almost overweight (so I assumed it was a lot of padding layers for the cold, windy environment of Dorset).

Some more things I learned that Mary Anning was a shrewd fossil dealer and an accomplished fossil preparer. Also that she was well known in the field with a number of newspaper and journal articles mentioning her while she was alive. In addition, the town of Lyme lamented after her absence the number of visitors she attracted were gone from their local economy.

Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus fossil found in 1824 at Lyme Regis, Dorset, England by Mary Anning. It was the first articulated plesiosaur skeleton ever found. The creature lived during the Lower Jurassic Period (203-194 million years ago). Named by W. D. Conybeare and bought by the Natural History Museum of London in 1848 from the estate of the Duke of Buckingham. It was on display at the museum in August 2016.

Termnodontosaurus platyodon (Conybeare, 1822) ichthyosaur fossil found by Mary Anning on display at Natural History Museum of London August 2016. Skylight reflection in display glass in this picture, apologies for image.

Dapedium politum fish fossil probably collected by Mary Anning and displayed at the Lyme Regis Museum in Dorset England on August 2016.

Ichthyosaurus communis fossil found by Mary Anning in 1820 and sold to Georges Cuvier. Displayed at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris France August 2016. 

One sad item the books documents is so many of the Mary Anning fossils were destroyed in World War II bombing of England and museum fires. The book lists the Bristol City Museum fossil collection destroyed in air raids on November 24-25, 1940 (in 1987 they found a partial ichthyosaur skull fossil from Anning 1814 find that survived the bombing) and on May 10, 1941 a night bombing of Royal College of Surgeons in London fossil reptile collection was mostly destroyed (396 of 400 fossils).  In the United States, the New York Lyceum of Natural History had Anning specimens purchased in 1827 by G.W. Featherstonhaugh. This collection was destroyed in a fire on May 21, 1866. The author documents a number of other museums that have or had specimens but lost the labels so it is difficult to know if Anning fossils still exist at those institutions.

When I was at the Natural History Museum of London in August 2016 and waiting in line for it open, I took some pictures of the Victoria and Albert Museum across the street which shows shrapnel damage made during World War II bombings of London. The bombs must have been detonating in the street between the two museums.


Which just re-enforces the need for museums to digitize their collections. These vast store houses are not immune to loss. Which re-enforces that natural history collections need to be digitized and the data distributed across geographical distant servers so some record will exist if the original specimen is lost.

 Image (Tab. 42) of watercolor of Squaoraja fish fossil found by Mary Anning December 1829. Louis Agassiz had image created for his book Poissons Fossiles, Atlas Tome III 1833-1845. He called it Spinacorhynus polyspondylus and the watercolor was painted by J Charles Weber.The original fossil was destroyed in World War II at the Bristol City Museum however the tail section still exists in the Philpot collection at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Again, I would encourage you to read this book if you are interested in the history of paleontology or if you plan on visiting Lyme Regis or the Natural Museum of History in London.