Saturday, January 30, 2021

Eocene Leaf Fossil with Insect Holes

 

Unidentified leaf fossil found in the Florisant formation of Teller County Colorado USA. This fossil is special in that it has three places on the leaf where there is predation. The darker areas show signs of the leaf repairing itself. The fossil dates to the Eocene Epoch. The leaf is about 3.5 cm in length.

Thanks to Kenny for the image.


Friday, January 29, 2021

Calymene Trilobite Imprints

 


Over ten years ago while digging the footers for a sun room addition to the house, I found large rock about the size of a volleyball.  I believe this is rock is Brassfield dolomite while Osgood Shale is found in the area as well.

The imprint of the fossil appears to be a Calymene trilobite that is about 6 cm long. It dates to the Middle Silurian Period. It was found in Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA.


 

To save space it occurred to me to cut the fossil out but on the other side of rock is a fragment of a smaller Calymene. It is possible there are more imprints hidden in the rock that could be destroyed by cutting. All these years I wait till maybe a technology will emerge that will scan through the rock to reveal more fossils.



Sunday, January 24, 2021

Paleontologist Elvira Wood

1920 drawing by Dr. Elvira Wood of the Ceraurus pleurexanthemus trilobite. Published in The Appendages, Anatomy, and Relationships of Trilobites by Percy E. Raymond

In today's post I would like to highlight a research paleontologist named Dr. Elvira Wood (1865-1928). From what I can find in public records on the Internet, Dr. Wood was a paleontologist who was active in the late 1800s till the 1920s. Her contributions to paleontology were in organizing, interpreting, illustrating, and publishing fossils from university and museum collections.

How I became associated with her work was reading her Master's Thesis at Columbia University published in 1909 on Dr. Gerard Troost's lost fossils. Without it, Dr. Troost's major manuscript on Tennessee fossils completed weeks before his death might never have been published. More than likely  it either would have been lost or still sitting in an museum archive. Thankfully, Miss Wood was able to get it updated and published 60 years after it had been completed. I could not find a picture of her to lead off this posting so I have placed some illustrations of fossils she created images for in various publications.

Her father served in the 26th Regiment of Maine Volunteers during the American Civil War from 1861-1863. She was born in the town of Gouldsboro, Maine on February 11, 1865. In 1872, when she was 7 years old, her parents moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Years after the war, he operated a carpenter and builder shop at 465 Blue Hill Avenue in Boston till his death in 1883 [See NOTE 1 below].

At age 17, she graduated from the Girls' High School of Boston on June 1882 [See NOTE 2 below]. She then entered the State Normal School at Framingham, a teacher training school now known as Framingham State University. After graduation, Elvira then enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a special student in 1893, taking courses in geology, biology, and chemistry. In 1896, she became instructor in paleontology at MIT. 

Elvira Wood named this new crinoid fossil species Gennaeocrinus carinatus from the Hamilton formation of Charlestown, Indiana in an October 1901 publication

In October 1901 she published a paper naming a new crinoid species Gennaeocrinus carinatus. The paper was prepared at the laboratory of the Geological Department of MIT and she thanks Professor William H. Niles for the opportunity to do this. As it turns out, this holotype fossil now resides at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University (IP 108317 BSNH catalog number 13327, MUSE locality number 949, previous number 3342). MIT must have transferred their fossil collection to Harvard at sometime in the near past.

She sent a signed copy of this paper to Professor Alpheus Hyatt (1838-1902) which is now in the Harvard library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. When Google scanned their old books collection the system recorded Ms. Wood's note and signature (see below). The Harvard library shows receiving it in October 15, 1902. Hyatt estate must have given his library to Harvard several months after his death on January 15, 1902.

She taught at MIT until February 1903. Ms. Wood accepted the post of paleontological assistant to Director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) who at the time was Dr. Charles D. Walcott (1850-1927). In the following year, she received a regular appointment as Geologic Aid of the USGS. On June 29, 1905, the El Paso Herald newspaper under the headline Geological Survey Work printed "The preparation of monograph on Cambrian brachiopods by C.D. Walcott, assisted by Miss Elvira Wood." 

This image is of the actual fossil that Elvira Wood named in 1904 from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History database of USNM PAL 26395 of holotype fossil of Megistocrinus tuberatus. It has a title IRN 3125621. 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:/65665/3d7e06d00e5ae4b1aaf7f73d1ea56d437

In 1904 she published On New and Old Middle Devonic Crinoids which was the culmination of research on fossil specimens submitted to her for study by Assistant Curator Mr. Charles Schuchert. She named two new crinoid genus (Tripleurocrinus and Tylocrius) and seven new species (Megistocrinus tuberatus holotype USNM PAL 26395, Megistocrinus regularis syntype USNM PAL 36013, Megistocrinus sphaeralis holotype USNM PAL 26397, Tylocrinus novus holotype USNM PAL 35150, Dolatocrinus costatus  holotype USNM PAL 26396, and Dolatocrinus asterias USNM PAL 36023). In July 1911, Frank Springer published a document Some New American Fossil Crinoids in which he changed the identification of Tripleurocrinus levis to Myrtillocrinus levis. Its holotype fossil is still stored at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History USNM PAL 35146 along with the others mentioned above.

Ostracod fossil Aluta woodi named by Dr. Charles D. Walcott after Elvira Wood in 1913

While working for Dr. Walcott, he named an ostracod fossil after her in 1905 called Bradoria woodi. In 1913, he would rename the same Chinese ostracod for her called Aluta woodi plus another fossil documented below. Miss Wood started revising Dr. Troost unpublished manuscript at Professor Charles Schuchert (1858-1942) of Yale University's suggestion while working at the USGS. Dr. Schuchert was apprentice to Dr. James Hall, later worked at the USGS (1893-1894) and curator U.S. National Museum (1894-1904). One can wonder how Schuchert knew about the Troost manuscript, from Hall or the Smithsonian? When it was published in 1909 she thanked Walcott for 39 photographs used in the publication. She also thanked Dr. Ray S. Bassler (1878-1961) of George Washington University for photographic illustrations.

This appointment was changed to that of Assistant Geologist in June 1907. In the same year she resigned from the USGS and started working at Columbia University. Once there she taught paleontology and assisted at the summer session. In September 1907, she began studies as a graduate student and she received a Master of Arts degree in May 1908 [see NOTE 3 below] with her thesis  "A Critical Summary of Troost's Unpublished Manuscript on the Crinoids of Tennessee." When the thesis was published she thanked Dr. Amadeus W. Grabau (1870-1946) for valuable advice (maybe he was her thesis advisor?). 

Adolphus Heiman drawing of a reconstructed Crinoid Calyx fossil of an Actinocrinus magnificus meant to be the title image for Gerard Troost's Crinoids of Tennessee monograph probably completed in 1849. The original fossil is at the Smithsonian PAL 39900. Elvira Wood wrote about this specimen in her Master's thesis.

In 1909, Dr. Grabau (Professor of Palaeontology in Columbia University) along with Dr. Hervey W. Shimer (Assistant Professor of Palaeontology in MIT) published the North American Index Fossil book Volume 1. He thanks Elvira as one of his students for helping with its publication. Her copies of volumes 1 and 2 are at the Harvard University Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (donated on May 10, 1932 years after her death) [LINK]. See image below of the donation label and on the next page her signature from Volume 2.



She received her PhD in August 1909 with the thesis entitled The Phylogeny of Certain Cerithidae [see NOTE 4 below]. When it was published she thanked another female paleontologist Dr. Carlotta J. Maury (1874-1938) "for the loan of Oligocenic shells from the Paris Basin" and Dr. Grabau of Columbia University "for many helpful suggestions" in the acknowledgements. It also lists she presented the abstract to the New York Academy of Science on February 7, 1910.

Cerithium tuberosum gastropod fossil plate II figure 4 from Elvira Wood's The Phylogeny of Certain Cerithidae 1910 PhD thesis

She accepted the position as Curator, Geological Department, Columbia University, where she remained two years, resigning this position to accept the position of Assistant Curator in Paleontology, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Cambridge, Massachusetts in October 1911. In 1912, she worked on labeling the crinoids fossils in the collection as well updating the card catalogue of crinoid fossils. 

In 1913, the Carnegie Institution of Washington published Research in China in Three Volumes and Atlas Volume Three The Cambrian Faunas of China by Charles D. Walcott. On pages 60-61, anthozoa Coscinocyathus elvira is shown from the  Ki-chóu formation, south of Wu-t'ai-hién, Shan-si China. It dates from the Middle Cambrian Period. Walcott writes, "The specific name is given in recognition of the work of Miss Elvira Wood in connection with the preliminary study of the Cambrian fauna of China." Later in the publication, he names a fossil ostracod Aluta woodi and Walcott explains on page 228 "The specific name is given in recognition of the excellent and thorough preparatory work that was done by Miss Elvira Wood in the preliminary study of the Cambrian fossils from China and her work upon the Devonian crinoids."

Cactocrinus proboscidalis crinoid calyx fossil from The Use of Crinoid Arms in Studies of Phylogeny by Elvira Wood plate I figure 1 photo by W. E. Rowe Heliotype Co. Boston 1914

In 1914 she published "The Use of Crinoid Arms in Studies of Phylogeny" in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Volume XXIV. In this article, she named new crinoid fossils Cactocrinus baccatus and C. platybrachiatus. The New York Academy of Sciences also elected Dr. Elvira Wood of the Museum of Comparative Zoology as a Fellow on December 21, 1914.

She continued to curate the paleontology collection at Harvard until 1914 when it is reported "Owing to ill health, Miss Elvira Wood's work was limited to the assortment of considerable series of fossils received from the Boston Society of Natural History." Next year's report said "Miss Elvira Wood resumed her work on 1 December 1915, and during the remainder of the year, she was engaged in revising the identification and arrangement of the study series of Tertiary Gastropoda."

Dr. Wood is mentioned one last time in the Annual Report of the Director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard 1916-1917 with the entry "Miss Elvira Wood was employed for eight months and continued the revision and arrangement of the study series of Tertiary Gastropoda."


1920 drawing by Dr. Elvira Wood of the Calymene senaria trilobite. Published in The Appendages, Anatomy, and Relationships of Trilobites

The Appendages, Anatomy, and Relationships of Trilobites by Percy E. Raymond, Ph.D. Harvard published this work in December 1920 to the memory of Charles Emerson Beecher (1815-1900). Dr. Elvira Wood has a large number of trilobite illustrations on this publication. Dr. Raymond writes,  "I am greatly indebted to Doctor Elvira Wood for the care and skill with which she has worked up these restorations from my rather sketchy suggestions. She has put into them not only a great amount of patient work, but also the results of considerable study of the specimens." The trilobite images are displayed throughout this blog post and were published 100 years ago last month.

1920 drawing by Dr. Elvira Wood of the Isotelus maximus trilobite. Published in The Appendages, Anatomy, and Relationships of Trilobites by Percy E. Raymond

It appears she left Harvard after 1917 and went to work at the American Museum of Natural History on trilobite models. In their annual report for 1920 she is still working with trilobites. In her last published book is this quote: "Her last position was Assistant Curator in Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, New York City, which she was obliged to resign on account of an accident, which made her an invalid for the remainder of her life." [See NOTE 5 below] In her obituary published in an MIT journal states, "In 1917 she became assistant to the curator of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, but was the victim of an accident during that year which made her a permanent invalid, and since 1917 she has been living in Waltham." [See NOTE 6 below]

The last entry in the newspaper database about her is from August 4, 1921 Bangor Daily News (Maine) which wrote "Dr. Elvira Wood and sister of Waltham, Mass. are occupying Finch Lane cottage. Dr. Wood will address the Girl Scouts on Nature Study at East Sullivan, date to be announced."

Winifred Goldring (1888-1971) in The Devonian Crinoids of the State of New York Memoir 16 published 1923 thanked Dr. Wood for help getting specimens and allowing her to use plate images from earlier publications. Note: Dr. Goldring became the first woman in the United States to be appointed a state paleontologist (New York).

Dr. Wood's trilobite images appeared in two more papers: in 1924 by Dr. Raymond entitled New Upper Cambrian and Lower Devonian Trilobites from Vermont and in 1925 Some Trilobites of the Lower Middle Ordovician of Eastern North America. The last paper contains some impressive illustrations of trilobite fossils.

1925 drawing by Dr. Elvira Wood of the Ectenaspis beckeri trilobite fossil. Published in Some Trilobites of the Lower Middle Ordovician of Eastern North America by Percy E. Raymond 

Up until she died it appears Elvira continued to work documenting the Wood family tree. In her final book, she mentions travel to interview relatives as early as 1916 and lists dates of events happening to family members till 1928.

She died at the age of 63 on December 29, 1928 and was buried at the family plot in Mount Feake Cemetery Waltham, Middlesex County Massachusetts USA. Her father George W. Wood (1833-1883), mother Elvira K. Whitaker Wood (1837-1916), sister Amanda (1859-1932), brother Gleason (1867-1941) and his wife Lena (1868-1946) are buried there as well.. In 1930, two years after Dr. Wood's death, her book documenting the Wood family history was published The Ancestry and Descendants of Ebenezer Wood of West Gouldsborough, Maine. From reading the book, she notes it originally just started as a small endeavor documenting her family history but turned into a larger project over time. 

In 1931, the librarian at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology writes, "A small collection of books and pamphlets from the library of Miss Elvira Wood, who worked on the collection of fossils here some twenty years ago, were received through the kindness of her brother." [see NOTE 7 below] Years later, Google digitized one of the books donated, below is image of the library label from North American Index Fossil book Volume 1.




1920 drawing by Dr. Elvira Wood of the Ceraurus pleurexanthemus trilobite. Published in The Appendages, Anatomy, and Relationships of Trilobites by Percy E. Raymond

Conclusion:

While public records have provided a rough time line to Dr. Wood's life, they do not really give any insight as to what motivated her to spend her life in the study of fossils. The 1930 book about her family tree includes an introduction that gives a glimpse of some of her personal perspective on the world. Ms. Wood writes: "The man who said he did not want to look up his family tree for fear of finding a gallows tree had an entirely wrong idea of the true purpose of genealogical research. It should not be undertaken with the sole idea of finding food for vanity in the number of distinguished people we can claim as belonging to us but rather in a spirit of open-minded investigation. If we find evil in our ancestry it is a warning that here is something it is our business to eliminate from the family strain. If we find good it is a challenge to us to equal that plane of experience. More than that, if we are to contribute to the progress of the world we must not only equal the moral attainments of our ancestors, we must excel them. Another fact that is strongly brought out by studies of genealogy is that moral achievement is the only kind contributing to sound social advancement."

At the introduction of her family history book she writes, "When the work was still in its early stages an accident deprived the writer of the power to move about freely, and visiting of libraries and other sources of information became impossible." [NOTE 5 below]. Even with this set back she had an amazing career working with some of the best American fossil collections at the American Museum of Natural History, U.S. Geological Survey, the Smithsonian, Harvard University, Columbia University and MIT. In addition, she corresponded and collaborated with some of the top invertebrate paleontologists of the day. 

She concludes her family's genealogy book with this text:

"This ends the story of an American family from the early days of the settlement of the country to the present time. It contains no celebrated names, no records of shining achievement. Its members were mainly farmers, merchants or mechanics, but they were, with but a few exceptions, men and women of industry, integrity, devotion to duty, and many of them people of sincere religious faith. They possessed the one indispensable attribute of the nation in the past and its hope for the future whether it be held by rich or poor, learned or unlearned; and may the United States of America never lack an abundance of middle class families of this type."

During my research, things I learned:

 1) Finding all the trilobite images she illustrated. I knew about her work on the Troost fossils from years ago when I worked on his collection. It appears early in her studies, she worked with Paleozoic crinoid fossils, then helped Walcott with Cambrian fossils and finished her career creating a lot of trilobite fossil illustrations and models.

2) Another interesting fact is that she obtained her advanced degrees when she was in her 40s. I am speculating that after high school she trained to become a teacher (maybe specializing in science). She got accepted at MIT to study more advance sciences and while there started working at the Harvard museum. 

3) Learning that she had named so many fossils and had a few named in honor of her work.

4) Her collaborations with Charles Walcott, Amadeus Grabau and Percy Raymond. I learned more about their careers and scientific contributions.

5) The stories of other female paleontologists working at the time, specifically Winifred Goldring, Carlotta Maury, and Marjorie O'Connell. Women of that time had a lot of challenges especially pursuing careers in geological sciences. Learn more about this period and read about other women paleontologists in the Museum of the Earth's Daring to Dig: Women in American Paleontology on-line exhibit. An upcoming book and web site is being created by author Katherine Dettwyler about Marjorie O'Connell Shearon. Dr. O'Connell wrote a paper in 1914 that renamed one of the largest horn coral fossils (Siphonophrentis) known to have existed that can be found in the Louisville, Kentucky area. She and Dr. Wood have a number of things in common: they both worked at the American Museum of Natual History at the same time, got degrees from Columbia University, and collaborated with Dr. Grabau while there.

Recent Mentions of Elvira Wood's Work

After all these decades, there has been some recent activity involving Dr. Wood, a few papers in 2002 and 2009 referring to Aluta woodi Chinese ostracod fossil Charles Walcott named it after her as well as papers on Troost's fossils. Two papers were written about the lost Troost crinoids which referenced Dr. Wood's 1909 work in 2005 by Kennesaw State University's Julie Newell in Earth Sciences History and Ohio State's William Ausich 2009 paper in Journal of Paleontology. I was glad to see that months ago a Harvard podcast referred to Dr. Elvira Wood and her time working in their museum.

In an August 2020 podcast, Harvard Museums of Science & Culture (HMSC) Connects! entitled 19th-Century Women at Harvard's MCZ with guest Reed Gochberg and hosted by Jennifer Berglund. Dr. Gochberg is the Assistant Director of Studies, History, and Literature at Harvard. Around the 07:19 mark in the podcast Dr. Gochberg says "One woman who worked at the museum in the 1890s named Elvira Wood actually for a while taught as an instructor at MIT. She got her PhD at Columbia, and then she came back to work at the museum in the 1910s for a few years, but she specialized in invertebrate paleontology, and so the work that she was doing at the museum in the 1890s was actually preparing some of the museum's early paleontology displays for public exhibits, and she also donated a number of her own collections, she helped to catalog collections for the museum, and also prepared illustrations and actually published some of her own work."

Link is here: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-wcp7y-e5c317 or read the transcript: https://hmsc.harvard.edu/19th-century-women



Publications of and ones Dr. Elvira Wood contributed to:

Grabau, Amadeus W. Geology and Palaeontology of Eighteen Mile Creek and the Lake Shore Sections of Erie County, New York, The Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, Vol. 6 No. 1, June 1898, Buffalo, New York pp. 1-403. [LINK] Elvira Wood did a lot of figures for this work. Dr. Grabau named a horn coral fossil for her Hadrophyllum woodi on pages 128-129. He wrote, "Named in honor of Miss Elvira Wood, Instructor in Palaeontology, Mass. Inst. Technology".
 
Figure 10C on page 129 Hadrophyllum woodi. Type Specimen Morse Creek. Figures drawn by Miss Elvira Wood in 1898.
 
Grabau, Amadeus W. Moniloporidae, a new family of Palaeozoic Corals, Proceedings of the Boston Society Natural History, Vol. 28, No. 16, Issued April 1899 Boston pp. 409-424 Pl. 1-4 [LINK] Her initials on drawings plate 2 and name listed "Elvira Wood del." plate 3, 13 figures of Ceratopora distorta and 17 figures on plate 4 of Ceratopora dichotoma. 
 
Grabau, Amadeus W. Siluro-Devonic Contact in Erie County, New York, Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Vol. 11, pp. 347-376, pls. 21-22, May 26, 1900 [LINK]  Listed at beginning of plates "The fossils were drawn by Miss Elvira Wood, instructor of paleontology in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology." 3 figures on plate 21 and 6 figures on plate 22.
 
Grabau, Amadeus W. Palaeontology of the Cambrian Terranes of the Boston Basin, Author's Edition Issued August 1900 Boston [LINK] on page 694 "To Miss Elvira Wood and Miss L.R. Martin thanks are due for the care and labor bestowed on the illustrations of the fossils." "Plate 31 Figures 3,4,6a-c,9a-f,10c,11b, and 12a were drawn by Miss Elvira Wood, Instructor in Paleontology in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;"

Wood, Elvira. A new Crinoid from the Hamilton of Charlestown, Indiana, American Journal of Science, Vol. XII, October 1901, pp. 1-14. Pl. V. [LINK]

Wood, Elvira. Marcellus Limestones of Lancaster, Erie Co., N.Y. Paleontologic Papers 2, New York State Museum, December 1901 [LINK]

Grabau, Amadeus W. Phylogeny of Fusus and its Allies gastropod Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections Part of Volume XLIV no. 1417 Washington 1904. [LINK] on  page 7 he writes "To Miss Elvira Wood, of Washington, formerly Instructor in Palaeontology in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the writer is greatly indebted for the care and skillful labor she has bestowed on the difficult figures of the protoconchs and early conch stages shown in plates XVII and XVIII, as well as the original figures in the text." 

Wood, Elvira. On New and Old Middle Devonic Crinoids, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Washington D.C., August 6, 1904, pp. 56-84, Pl. XV-XVI. [LINK]

Walcott, Charles D. Cambrian Brachiopoda with Descriptions of New Genera and Species, Proceedings of the United States National Museum, Vol. XXVIII, 1905 pages 227-337.[LINK] Miss Wood is not mentioned in manuscript but is listed as working on it in a newspaper article [cited in the above text earlier in this blog].

Walcott, Charles D. Cambrian Faunas of China, No. 1415 Proceedings of the United States National Museum Vol. XXIX, pages 1-106, 1905. [LINK] on page 102 he names a new species of fossil ostracod after her called Bradoria woodi. Walcott writes this "The specific name is given in recognition of the excellent and thorough preparatory work that was done by Miss Elvira Wood in the preliminary study of the Cambrian fossils from China and her work upon the Devonian crinoids." On page 3, he writes, "In the autumn of 1903 the Carnegie Institution of Washington sent an expedition to China....A considerable quantity of material was collected and received in Washington in the fall of 1904...The material when thus prepared was labeled with locality and formation numbers and taken in hand by Miss Elvira Wood, who separated the species and selected and indicated specimens for illustration."

Wood, Elvira. A Critical Summary of Troost's Unpublished Manuscript on the Crinoids of Tennessee, Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 64, Washington D.C., 1909, pp. 1-150, Pl. 1-15. [LINK]

Grabau, Amadeus W. and Shimer, Hervey W. North American Index Fossil Invertebrates Volume 1, A.G. Seiler & Company, 1909. [LINK] on page vi "Special acknowledgements are further gladly made to Florence Henry Shimer, A.M., and to former and present students of the senior author, especially Elvira Wood, A.M., and Fred K. Morris, A.B." In volume 2 her crinoid papers are referenced. In the revised and more famous 1944 edition her crinoid fossils are again referenced. Link is to a scan her personal copy that was donated to Harvard in 1931. I would have thought she would have gotten it signed by the authors since she helped them. Also I would have thought it would have been marked up with notes about various fossils she would study or reference for research through her career.

Wood, Elvira. The Phylogeny of Certain Cerithidae, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume XXIV, New York, May 1910, pp. 1-92, Pl. I-IX. [LINK

Walcott, Charles D. Cambrian Brachiopoda, Monographs of the United States Geological Survey, Washington, Volume LI, Part I-Text, 1912, page 13 [LINK] He writes, "Miss Elvira Wood separated and classified the brachiopods collected in 1905-06, directed the preparation of drawings, and, in 1906, revised the proof of the plates, which were printed at that time."
 
Walcott, Charles D. Research in China in Three Volumes and Atlas Volume Three The Cambrian Faunas of China, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication No. 54, Washington, D.C. January 1913 [LINK] on page 60 Coscinocyanthus elvira named and pages 227-228 Aluta woodi named.

Wood, Elvira. The Use of Crinoid Arms in Studies of Phylogeny, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume XXIV, New York, May 1, 1914, pp. 1-17, Pl. I-V. [LINK]

Raymond, Percy E., The Appendages, Anatomy, and Relationships of Trilobites, The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, Volume VII, December 1920 [LINK] While Dr. Wood did not write this paper, she did a lot of the diagrams which the author acknowledged her for.
 
Raymond, Percy E., A New Fossil Starfish from New England, Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History, Volume 36, Number 4, pp. 165-172 Pl. 3. [LINK] "Fig. 7. Macroporaster nylanderi sp. nov. The holotype, 2.75 times the natural size. Drawn by Dr. Elvira Wood."

Goldring, Winifred. The Devonian Crinoids of the State of New York Memoir 16, The University of the State of New York, 1923 [LINK] page 8 thanks Dr. Elvira Wood of Waltham, Mass. Throughout her book Dr. Goldring references Dr. Wood earlier work from 1904 and 1901 on Gennaeocrinus carinatus and Myrtillocrinus levis as well as her 1914 crinoid paper.

Raymond, Percy E., New Upper Cambrian and Lower Devonian Trilobites from Vermont, Report of the State Geologist on the Mineral Industries and Geology of Vermont 1923-1924 [LINK] on page 138 "The figures for the plates were drawn by Dr. Elvira Wood, with the exception of figures 1,2,3,4,10,16,20 and 23, Plate 12; figures 10 and 12, Plate 13; and 4 and 20, Plate 14, which were done by Miss Krause of New Haven"

Raymond, Percy E. Some Trilobites of the Lower Middle Ordovician of Eastern North America. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College Vol. LXVII. No. 1, Cambridge, Mass. U.S.A. April 1925. [LINK] Dr. Raymond does not thank Dr. Wood for creating 9 of the 10 plates of trilobite images for this paper. Plate 6 was photographs by George Nelson. Reading his introduction the fossils were collected on trips taken in 1917, 1918, 1919, and 1921. It is possible she drew the considerable number of images for this paper while at home after returning from New York. All the plates she worked on have "Elvira Wood, del" in the bottom left corner. [According to Webster's dictionary, del is short for the Latin delineavit it means 'Elvira Wood drew these'.]

Wood, Elvira. The Ancestry and Descendants of Ebenezer Wood of West Gouldsborough, Maine, Springfield Printing and Binding Company, Springfield, Mass. 1930. [LINK]

Notes for this blog post:

NOTE 1: The 1930 book The Ancestry and Descendants of Ebenezer Wood of West Gouldsborough, Maine page 69 was the source.
NOTE 2: Reported June 28, 1882 in The Boston Daily Globe Wednesday Evening edition
NOTE 3: Notice published in The New York Times, "Columbia Joyful at Commencement", Thursday May 28, 1908, page 16. She is listed in 3rd column under MASTER OF ARTS. "Columbia University's 154th annual commencement was celebrated on Morningside Heights yesterday with a series of events that lasted continuously from 9:30 in the morning until uncertain hours of the night. Eleven hundred and forty degrees were conferred."
NOTE 4: Notice published in The New York Times, Thursday June 2, 1910 (page 7).  SCIENCE N.S. Vol. XXII, No. 816 published the following notice on page 237 August 19, 1910 DOCTORATES CONFERRED BY AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES Columbia University Elvira Wood: "The Phylogeny of Certain Cerithiidae"
NOTE 5: The Ancestry and Descendants of Ebenezer Wood of West Gouldsborough, Maine (1930) was the source of these quotes. They are from the introduction of the book but there are no page numbers on first 20 pages of the book.
NOTE 6:  News from the Classes '96, The Technology Review, Volume 31, March, 1929, Number 5, page 290. [LINK]
NOTE 7: Annual report of the director of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at Harvard College to the president of Harvard College for 1931-1932, Report on the Library by Eleanor S. Peters on page 47. [LINK]



1920 drawing by Dr. Elvira Wood of the Cryptolithus tessellates trilobite. Published in The Appendages, Anatomy, and Relationships of Trilobites by Percy E. Raymond

 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Cambrian Trilobite Olenellus From Boston Area

 


In August 1900,  Amadeus W. Grabau (1870-1946) published Palaeontology of the Cambrian Terranes of the Boston Basin. He described an Olenellus (Burr, 1900) trilobite cephalon fossil on page 665 and shown on plate 34 figure 1a. 

Dr. Grabau writes "Among the material collected by Mr. H. T. Burr at North Weymouth are two very perfect heads of a species of Olenellus which appears to be undescribed... The larger head (Pl.34, fig. 1 a) (as compressed upon the slate) describes almost a semicircle in outline, with the centre at the base of the glabella. Width of head, 47 mm. Length at the centre, 24 mm. The postero-lateral angles project about 4 mm. behind the base of the occipital ring.

The glabella has the form of a n acute triangle, the anterior end forming the bluntly rounded apex of the triangle. The length of glabella is 20 mm., and the width of the occipital ring, 12.5 mm. There are three pairs of glabellar furrows in front of the occipital furrow. the latter is strongly marked for about a third of the distance inward, form the margin of the glabella on each side, and is continued across by a faint depression. It appears more like a pair of glabellar furrows, which are deep and rather wide at the margin, becoming shallower as they pass inward and gently backward... Eye lobes crescentric, relatively narrow."

"No specific name is present proposed for this species which is undoubtedly new, since the material is insufficient to establish a complete specific diagnosis. It probably belongs to a new subgenus of Olenellus." It was found "in the dark purplish Lower Cambrian slates of Pearl Street, Norht Weymouth," Massachusetts.

Figure was drawn by Miss Elvira Wood (1865-1928), Instructor in Paleontology in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She drew a large number of  images for this document. On page 694, Dr. Grabau writes "To Miss Elvira Wood and Miss L.R. Martin thanks are due for the care and labor bestowed on the illustrations of the fossils."


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Gennaeocrinus carinatus Crinoid Fossil

 



These images are of the holotype fossil of Gennaeocrinus carinatus crinoid. It was named by Elvira Wood a paleontology instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1901. The fossil found in the Hamilton Group of Charlestown, Indiana USA. The fossil dates to the Middle Devonian Period. I believe the Hamilton (New York) is compared to the Sellersburg Limestone (Silver Creek and Beechwood limestones).



The Miss Wood observes "This species is remarkable for its elaborate and delicate surface ornamentation, the thin carinae rising at right angles to the surface and sometimes a millimeter or more in height." The genus was named by Wachsmuth and Springer in 1881. The species name appears to be derived from the word "carina" (a keel-like part or ridge, Latin for keel). This holotype specimen now resides at the Museum of Comparative Zoology - Harvard University (Invertebrate Paleontology 108317).




This fossil is the first fossil species she named and would later leave MIT to work with Charles Walcott on Cambrian fossils at the U.S. Geological Survey. Afterwards, she would obtain her Masters and PhD at Columbia University and spend the rest of her career curating at natural history museums and creating paleoart for scientific papers (Columbia University, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University and American Museum of Natural History in New York).

Source:
A new Crinoid from the Hamilton of Charlestown, Indiana by Elvira Wood, American Journal of Science, Vol. XII, October 1901, pp. 1-14. Pl. V. [LINK]



Saturday, January 9, 2021

Paleontologist Ruth Gillespie Browne

 

I live near outcrops of the Ordovician Period Bardstown Reef fossil beds. During 2008-2009, I collected a number of fossil coral specimens and researched more about them. The name of a local scientist appeared during my quest which was Ruth Browne. Unfortunately, I could not talk to her about my finds as she had passed away in 1999 at the age of 94.

An item I believe is missing from the Internet is the lack of a record of women in the geological sciences from the 19th and early 20th century. A remedy to this is to publish some information to help with this situation. Using public records and some Internet databases, I was able to find out more about this Louisville area paleontologist.

Ruth F. Gillespie was born on July 28, 1905 in Syracuse, New York. Her mother Ella M. Gillespie (1880-1963) was a housewife. Ruth's father Robert M. Gillespie (1877-1935) was telecommunications engineer. In the early 1920s, Western Electric sent him to Sweden to install a phone system between Stockholm and another city. Ruth and her family applied for passports in 1921 for a 1922 trip to stay with him in Europe. She attended high school in Scandinavian countries where her father worked. Above is a re-touched 1921 passport records image. It appears she, her mother and sister sailed on the SS Stockholm to Europe in July 1922 and returned on the SS Lapland from Southhampton, England (August 11, 1922) to New York City (August 19, 1922).

Ruth graduated from Cornell University in 1929 with a bachelor's and master's degrees in geology with emphasis on paleontology. She had a younger sister Helen E. Gillespie (1907-1983) who graduated from Cornell University with a degree in architecture.

She married James Gunn Browne (1905-1995) on August 30, 1930 in Syracuse New York. Below is a picture of James from his 1922 Charlottesville High School (Virginia) year book. He would later retire from Wayne Supply (construction equipment supplier) of Louisville as Vice President and  Finance Director in 1985.


From best I can tell, after she got married, they lived in Virginia and she raised two children. Later the family moved to Louisville (maybe around 1948). The first instance of her mentioned in the Courier Journal newspaper database is October 10, 1954 in an article entitled 'Creature Meets Critter At Wildlife Meet' by Kent Previette. It shows a picture of Ruth G. Browne holding a black pilot snake while two other women observe. The caption identifies her as head of the Ohio Falls Chapter of Kentucky Society of Natural History. The article states the society is one of the sponsors of the three-day 15th Annual Wildlife and Natural History Conference.

The next entry in the newspaper database is from October 5, 1961 showing Mrs. Ruth Browne (geologist and director or Kentucky Society for Natural History) leading the 4th grade class of St. Matthews Elementary School on a fossil hunt at the quarry at Brownsboro Road and Hubbards Lane. The police later ended the event citing child safety at the quarry as an issue.

The Courier Journal article from January 28, 1968 profiled her in their Woman in the News column entitled 'Her Museum Cause Is a Site' by Yvonne Eaton (1935-2005). The article mostly centers on the controversy of where Louisville's Museum on Natural History should be located. She favored the site at the Ben H. Collings estate at Newburg Road and Trevillan Way as opposed to downtown site or or the campus of the University of Louisville. It eventually was located downtown where the Kentucky Science Center is now (727 W. Main Street, Louisville). In the article she is identified as a board member of the Louisville Natural History Museum, Inc. and a former teacher at the University of Louisville and a former president of the Ohio Falls Chapter, Kentucky Society of Natural History. The article says she "attributes her love of the outdoors to weekend outdoor trips on which her father took the family. She say that she was taken in a basket even before she could walk to a secluded summer camp which her family owned in the Adirondacks."
Mrs. Browne is quoted in the article, "Geology has just been an interest with me. I think, why do I stay home and work with these bugs. But I enjoy it. I'm not a socialite. It's not that I don't like people. But it's that I feel I can contribute in this way. I have compulsion. I can't explain it. I feel there isn't enough time."

In 1973, she and Dr. Erwin Robert Pohl (1904-1973) of Horse Cave, Kentucky named a fossil foraminifera genus Tubispirodiscus found in the Fraileys facies of the Big Clifty Formation (Chesterian) of central Kentucky.

The Paleontological Research Institution of Ithaca, New York list her has a Trustee from 1976 to 1981. Ruth Browne wrote a number of letters to the editors of the Courier Journal which got published. If not writing about the Louisville museum, the letters were in tribute to people she was associated: Carlyle Chamberlain (1969), Leonard Brecher (1976), and Robert Paul (1982).

In 1981, she testified a U.S. Congressional committee about the importance of preserving and protecting the Falls of the Ohio River area (it is now an Indiana State Park). Public law 97-137 TITLE II - FALLS OF THE OHIO NATIONAL WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AREA approved December 29, 1981.

The last newspaper database entry that mentions her while alive was from July 22, 1991 Courier-Journal article 'WORK OF ART Terry Chase tells nature's story though museum exhibits' by Linda Stahl. In the article,  Ruth Browne is identified as a board member of the Louisville Nature and Conservation Center. She and other board members traveled to Chase Studio, a 125 acres of woods next to a national forest 30 miles east of Branson, Missouri. They were looking at exhibit developer's work on three projects: planned Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, the Nature and Conservation Center to be constructed at Joe Creason Park in Louisville, and the American Cave and Karst Center at Horse Cave, Kentucky.

Before her death she made a large financial contribution and donated a number of her books to the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Browne's fossil collection and library were donated to the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca (now "Museum of the Earth"). She also donated money to the Nature Conservancy and Cornell University in her will. The available literature paints a picture of a very talented and generous person.  The Museum of the Earth database shows a number of specimen donations attributed to her.  

I am grateful she published her coral research as it helped with identification of the eastern Louisville fossils found. In addition, after reviewing newspaper articles and letters to editor over the decades she lived in Louisville, it shows she was a dedicated advocate for museum for natural history and science and other nature centers in the Louisville area.

https://louisvillefossils.blogspot.com/2009/03/foerstephyllum-colonial-coral.html

https://louisvillefossils.blogspot.com/2008/12/cyathophylloides-cf-c-burksae.html

Below are list of some of her publications from 1958 to 1977.

Sedimentation and stratigraphy of the Silurian and Devonian rocks in the Louisville area, Kentucky (Roadlog for Geological Society of Kentucky 1958 Field Excursion), by Ruth Browne and others, 1958, 46 p. ?

Wisconsin molluscan faunas from Jefferson County, Kentucky by Ruth G. Browne and D.E. McDonald in Bulletins of American Paleontology No. 189 (August 5, 1960), 24 pp., 4 plates [LINK]

Arenaceous Foraminifera from the Osgood Formation at Osgood Indiana by Ruth G. Browne and Virginia J. Schott in Bulletins of American Paleontology, volume 46, number 209 (July 1963), pp. 187-243. [LINK]

Smaller Paleocene Foraminifera from Reidland, Kentucky by Ruth G. Browne and Stephen M. Herrick in Bulletins of American Paleontology, volume 46, number 210 (August 23,1963), pp. 247-285. [LINK] [In this paper, L.M.  MacCary geologist at U.S. Geological Survey and Nat Dortch geologist at Paducah Junior College, Kentucky supplied Ruth Browne fossils in March 1960. The authors later thank Bruce Chang of Louisville Kentucky for illustrations of fauna and Dr. James E. Conkin (1924-2017) geologist at the University of Louisville for loan of literature.]

The Coral Horizons and Stratigraphy of the Upper Richmond Group in Kentucky West of the Cincinnati Arch by Ruth G. Browne in Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Mar., 1964), pp. 385-392 published by: SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology [In this paper she thanks Virginia Schott and  the curator of the University of Louisville Geology museum Donald McDonald. Dr. Kenneth E. Caster, professor of Geology at the University of Cincinnati reviewed her paper.]

Some Upper Cincinnatian (Ordovician) Colonial Corals of North-Central Kentucky by Ruth G. Browne in Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 39, No. 6 (Nov., 1965), pp. 1177-1191. [In this paper she thanks Mrs. Virginia Schott and  Mr. Donald McDonald in aiding in the collection of fossils. Dr. Thomas G. Perry of Indiana University for preparing thin sections. Dr. John W. Wells of Cornell University for manuscript review. Charles Stone of Lexington, Kentucky made the photographs. Special thanks to Dr. Rousseau Flower of the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources for loan of coral fossils from Montoya New Mexico.]

Foraminifera of the Fraileys Member (Upper Mississippian) of Central Kentucky by E. Robert Pohl, Ruth G. Browne, James R. Chaplin in Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Mar., 1968), pp. 581-582

Wisconsin molluscan faunas from Henderson County, Kentucky by Ruth G. Browne and P.M. Bruder in  Bulletins of American Paleontology No. 241 (June 3, 1968), 85 pp., 3 plates [LINK]

Plant Fossils from the St. Louis Formation in Kentucky by Ruth G. Browne and Albert L. Bryant in Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 44, No. 3 (May, 1970), pp. 520-521

Misassignment of Silurian Gastropod Protoconch Casts to Taxa of Foraminifera by Ruth G. Browne in Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 45, No. 1 (Jan., 1971), p. 141 [Correction of paper she published in 1963 where she mis-identified foraminfera fossils as snail protoconch casts.]

Stratigraphy and genera of calcareous Foraminifera of the Fraileys Facies (Mississippian) of central Kentucky. by Ruth G. Browne and E. Robert Pohl in Bulletins of American Paleontology No. 280 (December 13, 1973), 76 pp., 10 plates. [LINK]

The Archaediscidae of the Fraileys Facies (Mississippian) of central Kentucky by Ruth G. Browne, J.W. Baxter, and T.G. Roberts in Bulletins of American Paleontology No. 298 (October 24, 1977), 62 pp., 4 plates [LINK]

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Thalassocystis striata Alga Fossil

 

Here is an alga fossil called Thalassocystis striata (Taggart & Parker, 1976). It existed in the Silurian Period (443-417 million years ago). The fossil was found in Michigan, 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 PP43982.

Reference:

A NEW FOSSIL ALGA FROM THE SILURIAN OF MICHIGAN by Ralph E. Taggart and Lee R. Parker American Journal of Botany, Volume 63, Issue 10 November-December 1976 pages 1390-1392

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Silurian Buthotrephis Alga Fossil

 


Here is an alga fossil called Buthotrephis sp. (Hall, 1847). It existed in the Silurian Period (443-417 million years ago). The fossil was found in Ontario Canada. 

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 PP46685.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Rhizomorphia Silurian Alga Fossil

 


Here is an alga fossil called cf. Rhizomorphia sp. (Matthew, 1908). It existed in the Silurian Period (443-417 million years ago). The fossil was found in Herkimer County, New York 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 PP46694.

Reference:

1908, Matthew, On Some Species of Silurian and Devonian Plants, Trans. Act. Roy. Soc. of Canada

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Buthotrephis newlinii Alga Fossil

 


Here is an alga fossil called Buthotrephis newlinii (White, 1902). It existed in the Silurian Period (443-417 million years ago). The fossil was found in Kokomo, Indiana USA. It was probably found in the Wabash Formation. The genus was named by James Hall in 1847.

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 UC875.


Reference:

White, D. (1902). Two new species of algae of the genus Buthotrephis, from the Upper Silurian of Indiana. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, 24, 265–273. See this link. The original document can be found here: https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/13582/USNMP-24_1255_1901.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Below is an image for David White's Buthotrephis newlinii published in 1902 as plate XVIII.



Saturday, January 2, 2021

Crinoid Fossil Stem Cross Section

 

Let us start off the new year with a picture of a unique looking crinoid stem cross section. It was found in the New Providence Formation of the Borden Group of Scott County Indiana USA. The fossil dates to the Mississippian Period.


Thanks to Kenny for the image.