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For millennia, humankind has been fascinated by the hard-external shell of the organisms classified within the Phylum Mollusca. Consumed first as food, their empty shells have served multiple functions in the past; as tools in many ancient cultures, in religious ceremonies by the Aztecs, and money by Pacific Islanders. During the Age of Discovery, sailors could supplement their meager incomes by selling exotic seashells to wealthy gentlemen for their Cabinets of Curiosity. Today many people first become enchanted with seashells by picking up worn beached shells during a vacation to the shore. If fortunate to live by the ocean, a newbie might branch off into the live collection of shallow water mollusks while those more land bound might start by purchasing foreign, deep-water or rare specimens. Because of the shear abundance of marine mollusk species, the more advanced collector will begin to concentrate on a single or small number of molluscan families, acquiring as many of those species as possible, spending major capital for the rarest. Among the gastropods, one of the most popular families to collect due to its beauty are species of the family Cypraeidae commonly known as the cowries. Members of this family are known for their egg shaped, brightly colored shells with a narrow slit-like aperture and most notably a porcelain-like glossy shell that is produced by the animal’s soft mantle which when fully extended, covers and polishes the external shell. Cowries are common worldwide across tropical and subtropical seas even with a few temperate species tolerant of colder water. Because of their popularity as a biologic collectible, the desire to create new species with minute differences or found at diverse localities have resulted in a large amount of species splitting. Fabio Moretzson (2014) termed this as taxonomic ‘noise’, much of it from non-peer reviewed amateur publications with new species descriptions based mostly on shell characteristics. Moretzsohn and the editorial board of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) have attempted to clean up much of the ‘noise’ through review of molecular and anatomical data reducing over 1000 different names to 245 species and 166 subspecies (2013).
Paleontology is not immune to the proclivities of the cowrie collector. Going back to at least the Cretaceous, fossil Cypraeidae are also sought and commercially sold with notable species found in the Eocene and Oligocene of Europe, the Miocene of Indonesia, and the Oligocene and Miocene of Australia. In general, fossil cowries are rare with the notable exception of the genus Siphocypraea from the Upper Pliocene of the Southeastern United States. Unlike other cowries which have a distinct spire in their immature bulla stage, Siphocypraea has a depression over the apex resulting in either an open or spiral apical sulcus in adults. Anyone who has collected from the Plio-Pleistocene shell pits of South Florida has encountered these shells in abundance with a staggering amount of variation in characteristics. In this post, I will review the publication history of Siphocypraea and in doing so describe the different interpretations of its speciation.
T.A. Conrad (1841) described one of the first fossil cowries found in the United States from a specimen discovered at a sink hole in Duplin County, North Carolina. This species that he named Cypraea carolinensis, was listed from Miocene deposits now considered as Upper Pliocene Duplin Formation. Later in 1886 Angelo Heilprin in his paleontological explorations of South Florida described a cowrie found within Pliocene (now considered Lower Pleistocene) marl deposits uncovered in canal construction along the Caloosahatchee River. Due to its unusual comma-shaped apical sulcus, he named it Cypraea (Siphocypraea) problematica. At this point in time, no other Neogene cowries were described for almost 50 years. The Florida development boom began in the early 20th Century and during the construction of the Tamiami Trail connecting Florida’s west and east coasts, draglines encountered a molluscan rich sand near the Monroe-Dade County line. Among the endemic Miocene (today Pliocene) fauna were large cowries which W.C. Mansfield noticed were very similar to the species found in North Carolina. Mansfield (1931) named it Cypraea carolinensis floridana differing from the type by being more elongated and having a rounder ventral area. The following year Mansfield described a near perfect specimen of C. carolinensis carolinensis from what is now called the Jackson Bluff Formation thereby extending its range to the Florida Panhandle. The German malacologist F.A. Schilder (1932) noting similarities between Cypraea mus, a recent Venezuelan species and Heilprin’s Cypraea (Siphocypraea) problematica assigned C. mus to the subgenera Siphocypraea. Woodring (1959) would disagree with placing C. mus into Siphocypraea instead, he created a new subgenera Muracypraea for C. mus and its associated fossil species. Disregarding a similar bulla stage apical depression with C. carolinensis, Julia Gardner (1948) in her monograph of the Miocene and Pliocene molluscan fauna of North Carolina and Virginia, proposed a new section name, Akleistostoma for C. carolinensis and C. mus.
One of the more seminal works in Florida biostratigraphy and paleontology in the 1960s was by Alex Olsson and Richard Petit (1964). In Part 1 Olsson clarified the stratigraphy and associated fossils that were being exposed in shell pits, new canals, and the channelization of the Kissimmee River, by dividing the Neogene of Florida into four units: The Tamimi Limestone in Unit D, the Pinecrest in Unit C, the Caloosahatchee in Unit B and an unnamed Unit A which would later be known as the Bermont Formation and allied these units to their Mid-Atlantic counterparts. In Part 2, Olsson and Petit named new species and correlated known species into their corresponding unit. In the process they raised Siphocypraea to genus level noting the extreme variation seen in the genus particularly in the Kissimmee River area. They questioned how many of these variants should be named but did find two forms that were numerous enough to assign as subspecies of S. carolinensis; S. carolinensis hughesi a very broad elliptical form and S. carolinensis transitoria which shows characteristics transitional between S. carolinensis and S. floridana. Later Olsson and Petit (1968) expanded upon their views on Siphocypraea by assigning Cypraea mus as Siphocypraea (Muracypraea) mus and reassigning Cypraea chilona found in the Miocene Chipola Formation as Siphocypraea chilona.
No other United States Siphocypraea were described until the work of Ed Petuch began in the late 1970s first with the description of a new extant species within the Caribbean. Petuch worked in the Florida Neogene at a time when many pits and construction projects were exposing sediments containing species new to science. One of these exposures was in a housing project west of Miami in which the digging of a lake exposed a fossil shell deposit with mollusks having close affinities to the Upper Pliocene of the Mid-Atlantic region. Among the new species was a Cypraea in which Petuch (1986) named C. lindae. Also found were a diminutive cowrie which he associated with Cypraea pilsbryi an obscure species named by Ingram (1939) from the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. Petuch (1994) would later reassign both to Siphocypraea. During this era, Petuch was not the only researcher naming new Siphocypraea species. In 1988 Juan Parodiz of the Carnegie named a species with similarities in between S. carolinensis and S. problematica naming it S. trippeana. Within the same paper Parodiz elevated Olsson and Petit’s subspecies S. transitoria and S. hughesi to species level. In 1991, Petuch named three additional Siphocypraea; S. mulepenensis, S. griffini and S. herweckorum, however it was with the release of his Atlas of Florida Fossil Shells in which the naming of species really began to exponentially increase. Without going through each individual name, Petuch (1994) named 12 new Siphocypraea species, followed by his 1996 publication creating a new genera Calusacypraea for those Siphocypraea which exhibit neotenic (juvenile traits in adult form) moving his S. sarasotaensis into this generic assignment and naming three new species. Before the 20th Century concluded, a German researcher, Dirk Fehse (1997) named two additional Siphocypraea species from the Caloosahatchee Formation.
The number of Siphocypraea species were artificially reduced by Petuch (2004) when he resurrected Gardner’s Akleistostoma as a genus for all Siphocypraea having a simple anterior sulcus with a widely opening posterior aperture and a new genus, Pseudadusta for those species with a comma shaped anterior sulcus and a narrow posterior aperture. In addition, and without going into much detail here, within the same publication he created a new subgenus within Calusacypraea called Myakkacypraea and two new subgenera within Siphocypraea; Okeechobea and Pahayokea. Within this entire Siphocypraea complex he named nine new species. In his book on the Geology of the Everglades, Petuch (2007) pictured two internal casts, one Akleistostoma and the other Calusacypraea from the Lower Pliocene Peace River Formation which if accurate fills in a large gap between the Chipola species S. chilona and the Upper Pliocene S. carolinensis. Naming of new species continued in Petuch’s unpublished book Compendium of Florida fossil shells (2011). He gave a name to the Akleistostoma internal cast and named four new subgenera to Akleistostoma and 13 new Pliocene species. For Siphocypraea he created three new subgenera and 11 species while upgrading his two Siphocypraea subgerera from 2003 to genus level. Thus, genus Pahayokea has two new subgenera and six new species and genus Okeechobea one new subgenus and eight new species. For Calusacypraea, the Miocene cast, one new subgenus and one new Pliocene species were named. Lastly with his genus Pseudadusta Petuch named two new subgenera and 11 new species. In all 52 new species of the Siphocypraea complex were named in this one work. Just last year Petuch (2018) published his latest book concentrating solely on the fossil Cypraeidae of South Florida. I have yet to acquire this book, however it advertises the description of over 100 species, so there must be additional new species that would add to this total, three that I know of for sure.
WoRMS has tried to cleanup some of this taxonomic splitting by failing to recognize any of Petuch’s genera instead accepting only Siphocypraea and Akleistostoma. Also, they have upgraded the Caribbean fossil and extant species classified under Siphocypraea (Muracypraea) to full genus recognition as Muracypraea. Under this interpretation, Siphocypraea/Akleistostoma were restricted to the flooded Southeastern United States and became extinct with S. problematica in the Lower Pleistocene. WoRMS did not challenge the 90-species listed prior to 2018 as it is a register for extant species however its acceptance of Akleistostoma has caused some problems with the systematics of Siphocypraea. As defined by Gardner, Cypraea carolinensis would be Akleistostoma carolinensis and as defined by Petuch any Cypraeidae with a simple anterior sulcus. Heilprin’s definition of Siphocypraea could therefore be interpreted broadly as any Cypraeidae with a comma shaped anterior sulcus. There are many workers of Florida molluscan paleontology that except this believing that there are only two species; carolinensis and problematica. However, to accept that viewpoint is to ignore the transitional forms and variation that was occurring in South Florida during the Upper Pliocene. Accepting Olsson & Petit’s view that Gardner created an unnecessary classification with Akleistostoma and that the depressed apex in the Bulla stage is the defining characteristic in Siphocypraea would clarify the inconsistencies with the evolution of S. carolinensis/floridana to the endpoint S. problematica. It is why I have chosen to use only Siphocypraea in my collection.
The ultimate question is how many species of Siphocypraea are there? That is not the scope of this post and would require a lot of work which would certainly be contested and contentious. I do believe there are more than five and less than hundred. I believe all species up to Olsson and Petit. I believe that some of Petuch’s species are valid, but exactly which ones are hard to say. His practice of creating subgenera that he later elevates to genus and description of species within depositional beds and those interpreted beds in different geographically regions make it difficult to say which are species and which are synonyms. What I have tried to do below is to bin different characters and variations of Siphocypraea within my collection from degree of anterior sulcus coiling and the opening of the posterior aperture.
Siphocypraea chilona (Dall, 1890). Lower Miocene (Burdigalian) Chipola Formation, Liberty County, Florida USA. Shell is nearly round with a high convex dorsum and a narrow aperture uniform throughout. Even crenulations of both sides of the aperture. When preserved, the color pattern is of large reddish spots. Not uncommon at Alum Bluff. Both WoRMS and Petuch would assign this species to the genus Akleistostoma.
Siphocypraea carolinensis (Conrad, 1841). Upper Pliocene Duplin Formation. Left: Darlington County, South Carolina USA. Right: Florence County, South Carolina USA. The specimen on the left is typical of S. carolinensis, subovate with a simple anterior sulcus, wide posterior aperture, denticles on parietal lip are weak. The dorsum or top of shell can be variable with some gerontic specimens being relatively high. The dorsum height of the specimen on the right is closer to S. floridana but all other characteristics are consistent with S. carolinensis. Also, Akleistostoma.
Siphocypraea pilsbryi (Ingram, 1939). Upper Pliocene Duplin Formation, Bladen County, North Carolina USA. The best way to describe this species is as a miniature S. carolinensis. I had this listed as a dwarf form of S. carolinensis until I came upon the paper describing Cypraea pilsbryi in researching this post. The type locality is the Cape Fear River and I found several examples of this species on a tributary of the Cape Fear. Little is found online about this species although Petuch has reported it from South Florida. Also, Akleistostoma.
Siphocypraea carolinensis floridana (Mansfield, 1931). Upper Pliocene Pinecrest Sand Member of the Tamiami Formation, Sarasota County, Florida USA. The specimen on the left is a gerontic individual from APAC, on the right typical S. floridana from SMR. Highly variable much more so than S. carolinensis. The dorsum tends to be not as high as S. carolinensis and parietal denticles are more strongly expressed but shares the uncoiled anterior sulcus and wide posterior aperture. This is the common Siphocypraea found in the Sarasota shell pits. Also, Akleistostoma.
Siphocypraea sarasotaensis Petuch, 1994. Upper Pliocene Pinecrest Sand Member of the Tamiami Formation, Sarasota County, Florida USA. First described as a Siphocypraea, Petuch later classified this species with his Calusacypraea genus which is defined by neotenic characteristics such as an undeveloped anterior sulcus and very light weight. Many researchers feel that this species is merely a variation of S. floridana (Lyle Campbell pers. comm.). WoRMS classification Akleistostoma while Petuch would call this species Calusacypraea myakka.
Siphocypraea briani (Petuch, 1994). Upper Pliocene Pinecrest Sand Member of the Tamiami Formation, Sarasota County, Florida USA. Described as Calusacypraea briani and differentiated from S. sarasotaensis by having a larger and longer shell. I have placed this shell as S. briani however it could be a gerontic individual of S. sarasotaensis. Some Cypraeidae demonstrate sexual dimorphism which could explain the larger size as well. WoRMS classification Akleistostoma, Petuch Calusacypraea.
Siphocypraea lindae (Petuch, 1986). Upper Pliocene Golden Gate Member of the Tamiami Formation, Collier County, Florida USA. Very close to S. carolinensis with a high dorsum and simple sulcus but with a narrower posterior aperture and stronger denticles on parietal lip. Petuch assigns this species in his genus Pseudadusta.
Siphocypraea trippeana Parodiz, 1988. Upper Pliocene Pinecrest Sand Member of the Tamiami Formation, Sarasota County, Florida USA. Typically, shell is small and narrow with a high dorsum. The sulcus has a slight bend more so than the S. carolinensis complex, described as a keyhole appearance and a narrow aperture like S. problematica.
Siphocypraea ketteri Petuch, 1994. Upper Pliocene Golden Gate Member of the Tamiami Formation, Collier County, Florida USA. Another form transitional between S. carolinensis and S. problematica. Differs from S. trippeana by having a wider shell and flattened base with noticeable wrinkles along the base. Petuch assigns this species in the genus Pseudadusta.
Siphocypraea hughesi Olsson & Petit, 1964. Upper Pliocene Pinecrest Sand Member of the Tamiami Formation, Highlands County, Florida USA. Restricted to the Kissimmee River area. Distinctive shape, wide and squat. Anterior sulcus approaching that of S. problematica. Petuch assigns this species to Akleistostoma (Olssonicypraea).
Siphocypraea transitoria Olsson & Petit, 1964. Upper Pliocene Pinecrest Sand Member of the Tamiami Formation, Sarasota County, Florida USA. Although common in the Kissimmee River area, this specimen is from APAC in Sarasota where it is much rarer. Very close to S. problematica with slightly less coiling of the anterior sulcus and a slightly wider posterior aperture. Petuch would call this Siphocypraea streami.
Siphocypraea mulepenensis Petuch, 1994. Upper Pliocene Golden Gate Member of the Tamiami Formation, Collier County, Florida USA. Like S. problematica with a comma shaped anterior sulcus and narrow aperture. The shell differs in being shorter with a pyriform shape. The shell around the anterior sulcus noticeably protrudes.
Siphocypraea problematica (Heilprin, 1886). Lower Pleistocene (Calabrian) Caloosahatchee Formation, Martin County, Florida USA. The shell is long and narrow with a comma-shaped anterior sulcus and narrow posterior aperture. Well preserved individuals demonstrate a rich golden color.
Siphocypraea swearingeni Petuch & Drolshagen, 2011. Lower Pleistocene (Calabrian) Caloosahatchee Formation, Martin County, Florida USA. I found numerous specimens of this form in mixed spoil with the S. problematica pictured above and based on the adhering matrix, it appears that they came from a different layer. Wider and shorter than S. problematica, this could be an environmental variant of it. I was hesitant to put a Petuch 2011 name on this population as there could very well be an earlier name that would take precedent, however it does fit very closely to the figures of S. swearingeni in Petuch 2018.
Muracypraea mus (Linnaeus, 1754). Recent. Judibana Bay, Venezuela in sea grass beds at 1-3 feet depth. Also known as the mouse cowrie, this species was once classified as Siphocypraea. Since M. mus has two obvious nodes on each side of the mantle line on posterior end of the dorsum and the sulcus fills with callous as it matures, it was placed within a separate genus. Although restricted to Venezuela and Eastern Columbia, its ancestor M. henekeni had a widespread Caribbean distribution in the Miocene.
Conrad, T. A. 1841. Appendix to: Observations on the Secondary and Tertiary formations of the southern Atlantic States, by James T. Hodge. Am. Journ. Sci., vol. xli, 1st ser., pp. 332-348.
Dirk Fehse. 1997. Two new fossil Siphocypraea from Florida, U.S.A. - Schriften zur Malakozoologie, Heft 10: 38-44, pl. 12-13, 1 tab.
Gardner, J. A. 1948. Mollusca from the Miocene and Lower Pliocene of Virginia and North Carolina: Part 2. Scaphopoda and Gastropoda, United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 199-B: iv, pages 179-310, plates 24-38, [iii].
Heilprin, Angelo. 1887. Explorations on the west coast of Florida and in the Okeechobee wilderness: with special reference to the geology and zoology of the Floridian peninsula: a narrative of researches undertaken under the auspices of the Wagner Free Institute of Science of Philadelphia. Transactions of the Wagner Free Institute of Science of Philadelphia v. 1
Ingram, W. M. 1939. A new fossil cowry from North Carolina. The Nautilus 52(4):120-121.
Mansfield, W.C. 1930. Miocene Gastropods and Scaphopods of the Choctawhatchee Formation of Florida, Florida Geological Survey Bulletin 3, 189 pages.
Mansfield, W.C. 1931. Some tertiary mollusks from southern Florida. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, v. 79.
Moretzson, Fabio. 2014. Cypraeidae: How well-inventoried is the best-known seashell family? American Malacological Bulletin. 32(2): 278-289.
Olsson, A.A., and R.E. Petit. 1964. Some Neogene Mollusca from Florida and the Carolinas, Bulletins of American Paleontology 47(217): pages 509-574, plates 77-83
Olsson, A.A., and R.E. Petit. 1968 (1993 Reprint). Notes on Siphocypraea, Originally - Special Publication 9, The Paleontological Research Institute Special Publication 19: pages 77-88.
Parodiz, J.J. 1988. A new species of Siphocypraea (Gastropoda, Cypraeidae) from the Neogene of southwest Florida. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 57(3): 91–97.
Petuch, Edward J. 1979. A New Species of Siphocypraea (Gastropoda: Cypraeidae) from Northern South America with Notes on the Genus in the Caribbean. Bulletin of Marine Science -Miami- 29(2):216-225.
Petuch, Edward J. 1986. Cenozoic The Pliocene reefs of Miami: their geomorphological significance in the evolution of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, southeastern Florida, USA. Journal of Coastal Research 2(4).
Petuch, Edward J. 1991, New Gastropods from the Plio-Pleistocene of Southwestern Florida and the Everglades Basin. W.H. Dall Paleontological Research Center Special Publication Number 1.
Petuch, Edward J. 1994. Atlas of Florida Fossil Shells (Pliocene and Pleistocene Marine Gastropods). Chicago Spectrum Press.
Petuch, Edward J. 1996. Calusacypraea, a new, possibly neotenic genus of cowries from the Pliocene of southern Florida. Nautilus 110(1): 17-21
Petuch, Edward J. 2004. Cenozoic Seas. CRC Press.
Petuch, Edward J. 2007. The Geology of the Everglades and Adjacent Areas. CRC Press.
Petuch, Edward J. and Mardie Drolshagen. 2011. Compendium of Florida Fossil Shells, Vol. 1 Middle Miocene to Late Pleistocene Marine Gastropods: Families Strombidae, Cypraeidae, Ovulidae, Eocypraeidae, Triviidae, Conidae, and Conilithidae [unpublished].
Petuch, Edward J. David P. Berschauer, Robert F. Myers. 2018. Jewels of the Everglades: The Fossil Cowries of Southern Florida. San Diego Shell Club, 256 pp.
Schilder, F.A. 1932. Fossilium Catalogus, I, Animalia. Pars 55. Cypraeacea, 276 pp.
Woodring, Wendell Phillips. 1957. Muracypraea, new subgenus of Cypraea: Nautilus, v. 70, no. 3, p. 88–90,
Rudist digging at "Point 25", St. Bartholomä, Styria, Austria (Campanian, Gosau-group)
A blog by FranzBernhardLatest Entry
Here are the numbers I promised :
From 07/16/2017 to 09/13/2018, about 140 hippuridit rudist specimens were found in the scree slope of "Point 25", the sweetest of all spots in St. Bartholomä. The species distribution is (approximate numbers, with examples):
Hippurites colliciatus: 80 (with 140 individuals – many pseudocolonies!) - F, G, H, J
Hippurites nabresinensis: 10 - I and possibly K
Vaccinites vesiculosus: 25 - A, B
Vaccinites alpinus: 10 - C
Vaccinites cf. sulcatus: 5 - D, E
Vaccinites sp.: 10 (no pillars visible, but to nice to be cut, or partial specimens)
Polished traverse sections of hippuritid rudists found at "Point 25" from 01/20/2018 to 03/23/2018:
Only hippuritids in this spot? No, during the same period, about 200 radiolitid rudists were also found, giving a total of about 340 rudist specimens from this spot. Thats about 70% of all rudists found in the St. Bartholomä-formation during my hunting and digging trips from 05/07/2017 to 09/13/2018. Ah, and about 10 coral colonies ware also found at "Point 25"...
It is difficult to estimate how many rudists are still waiting in the scree there. Judging from
- the amount of material already removed and dumped (about 3-4 m3),
- the distribution of fossiliferous limestone and other rocks in the scree slope (about 1:2, but highly variable), and
- considering the amount of „Knödelbrekzie“ that seems to be missing in the outcrop (and now lying in the scree),
I will try to make an estimate of 200 to 500 rudists that are still there to be found.
Now I am stopping!
Thanks for your patience!
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Sooo, this tiny little thing was was picked up two years ago on Lyme Regis beach, the nodule it was in was pretty big and i had high hopes that it contained more than one.
Alas, sadly only this poor little soul was retrieved and with a broken shell too.
Still, I'm pretty pleased with it considering its my first go at prep work and with no sandblaster. i just cant believe it has taken a little over a month to get the little bugger out.
i'm in two mind if i should try and remove the remaining matrix or keep it how it is because it acts and a nice little stand.
so yeah, my first little Gryphaea Arcuata
Since the upload of Part 1 succeeded, I'll now offer up Part 2, a look at two interesting taxa from the family Globigerinidae. This family contains most of the taxa that we associate with the idea of "planktonic forams", perhaps due to our familiarity with the "globigerina oozes" that form a significant part of the floor of the modern world oceans.
Globigerinoides ruber (d’Orbigny, 1839) is one of the two “red” species of globigerinids, as the specific epithet indicates. It is well-known that the color of individual specimens varies from white to pinkish-red, and it is typically the case that only some of its globular chambers exhibit the red coloration. I have specimens with all white chambers, one red chamber, two red chambers, etc., and have a single individual that is all red. Interestingly, the intensity of the color seems to increase with the number of chambers affected, so the all red specimen is very red indeed -- it is also a little smaller than average. Here is a typical specimen seen from the umbilical side, in a slightly oblique view, showing the primary aperture and one red chamber:
The genus Globigerinoides differs from Globigerina in that its species exhibit secondary apertures, formed at the junctions of the spiral suture with intercameral sutures:
Here is the spiral side of the same specimen, again presented in an oblique view, with two supplementary apertures, two red chambers at the left, and a pale pink one at the right. The top, final chamber is white, as is most frequently the case. This taxon is the commonest foram in the sample, by a large margin.
The other red globigerinid is Globoturborotalita rubescens (Hofker, 1956). According to the World Foraminifera Database, it also occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, but I have seen no specimens in my sample as yet. This taxon shows four chambers in the umbilical view, rather than three, and lacks the secondary apertures.
A second interesting globigerinid, quite different from the preceding, is Globigerinella siphonifera (d’Orbigny, 1839). This genus exhibits planispiral forms, rather than trochospiral -- all of the chambers are in the same plane. (Actually, the test begins growth in a trochospire, but quickly switches growth pattern to planispiral.)
There is a primary aperture at the base of the final chamber, and in fully mature specimens like this one, the initial chambers enter the final one through the primary aperture:
The final chamber appears to be “gobbling up” the initial chambers, like the snake that swallows its own tail.
In Part 3 of this entry, I’ll examine three taxa from the Family Globorotaliidae. Stay tuned.......
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The modern sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus (which means "long-headed blower") has been celebrated and feared in classic literature, often being depicted as ruthless ship-destroyers, most famous of these literature was Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick. But fossil discoveries in the early 2000s beg to differ, revealing a massive leviathan as big as the sperm whale but with powerful and gigantic jaws spawning teeth bigger than a human arm and an appetite that would make Moby Dick resemble a minnow. A whale that would wreck ships for sport rather than defense, its name was Livyatan melvillei, a name-worthy leviathan that must go down in history as the largest and most powerful tetrapod macropredator of all time.
Illustration by Teratophoneus
Livyatan melvillei literally means "Melville's Leviathan", which easily suggests that L. melvillei was named in honor of the novel Moby Dick. The genus name uses the literal spelling of the Hebrew word לווייתן (livyatán) in reference to the nickname leviathans commonly used on whales, especially from Moby Dick according to the namers, although the Leviathan was also a legendary sea monster from the Hebrew Bible (However, the english spelling leviathan was originally used, but was later discarded due to the name already being taken). The Latin species name melvillei was named after Moby Dick author Herman Melville.
Although unnecessary, the genus name can be broken down even further to the original meaning of לווייתן (livyatán), which literally means "wreathed" or "twisted", thus making the most literal meaning of L. melvillei be "Melville's wreathed".
For over a century, gigantic teeth whale teeth, some claimed to reach lengths of 40 centimeters, have been found all over South America, most notably Chile and Peru (and according to some sources California, but there is no deeper explanation to this). In November of 2008, a team of international scientists uncovered a 75% complete skull of a giant cetacean in the Pisco Formation of the Cerro Colorado desert in Peru (In an interview, the scientists remarked that they found the skull at the very last day or their trip upside-down and broken up). Taken back to Lima for examination, it was deemed a new type of cetacean and was given the taxon Leviathan melvillei in their papers published two years later. However, quickly after publication it was pointed out that the genus Leviathan was already a synonym for a mastodon. Because strict taxonomy rules do not allow any name to be used twice (Even if the already existing name is a synonym), the genus was renamed to Livyatan.
In 2016, a fossil enthusiast Murray Orr discovered a giant 30+ centimeter tooth off the shores of Beaumaris Bay near Melbourne in Australia. Realizing that this find may be important, he quickly contacted the Victorian Museum, where it was discovered that the tooth was indeed important and belonged to that of Livyatan. Although the morphology of the tooth itself is identical to that of L. melvillei, it is pointed out that Beaumaris was a Pliocene-age formation and thousands of miles away from Peru, suggesting that Livyatan or possibly just L. melvillei was much more diverse and existed much longer.
Total Body Length
Because only the skull has been discovered, the rest of L. melvillei's body -and size- is still yet to be debated and thoroughly confirmed. As of now, two other physeteroids have been officially to determine the size of the L. melvillei holotype, with a third one used by some. In general, the total body length is generally said to be up to 18 meters in length.
Using the modern sperm whale as reference, the total body length of the holotype was calculated to be 13.5 meters long, making it somewhat a bit smaller compared to modern whales. However, P. macrocephalus is unique for having a elongated head and a shorter body compared to other physeteroids, and because of the shorter, more robust form of the L. melvillei holotype skull, it may not be the most accurate reference. The P. macrocephalus reference is commonly used as the lower estimate of L. melvillei.
Another, more closer relative with a fully complete skeleton known, Zygophyseter varolai, can be used as reference to yield a much larger and impressive 17.5 meters, which rivals the length of P. macrocephalus itself. Because of L. melvillei being more closely related to Z. varolai than P. macrocephalus, plus the unusual and unique body dimensions of the latter, this estimate is probably more accurate than the lower 13.5. Many in the science community and media simply round the estimate to 18 meters.
A third, but unofficial reference what was once frequently used is Brygmophyseter shigensis, which is known from a near-complete skeleton. A paleoartist referenced the body of the B. shingensis holotype to the L. melvillei skull and calculated a length of 15.4 meters. Although this estimate may be credible and can be seen to be used with other paleoartists, it is not an official estimate and is largely unused by scientists.
However, it must be remembered that these size estimates are only based on the holotype, which is the only non-tooth specimen currently found. This means that it is very possible that L. melvillei could reach larger sizes. In fact, isolated teeth already may suggest larger sizes. In a twitter post by one of the scientists in possession of the Beaumaris tooth hinted that it came from an 18-meter Livyatan and was may have even been a subadult. A gigantic Chile tooth from the same post was estimated by someone to come from a L. melvillei that grew to 21 meters long (Using credible tooth/body length ratios).
L. melvillei was a physeteroid, but unlike other raptorials, had a large, box-shaped head. While this feature is common in other physeteroids, it should be noted that the other raptorials with known skulls, Zygophyseter, Brygmophyseter, and Acrophyseter, all had smaller heads and a snout which resembles dolphins, while L. melvillei does not. This is because the holotype skull shows the supercranial basin curving to the end of the skull like that of P. macrocephalus, while the others have their supercranial basins limited to the face, thus creating their snout.
With a giant supercranial basin, this means that L. melvillei had a massive supply of hypertrophied tissue (spermaceti and melon), suggesting that the whale possessed some abilities. The large spermaceti was a trait that was theorized to possible explain P. macrocephalus's ability to dive deep, suggesting that L. melvillei too, had the ability to dive deep. But with L. melvillei being more possibly a surface hunter, another, more accepted usage would be advanced echolocation as seen in P. macrocephalus. Another possible usage would be ramming, which is also a behavior P. macrocephalus has been seen doing. Although the two whales have very similar traits in the morphology of the head, this does not suggest that they are very closely related to each other, as the traits are merely a result of parallel evolution.
As the L. melvillei holotype only consisted of a skull, the morphology of the rest of the body is unknown. Multiple theories of the body plan have circulated, but the most accepted one is a large and robust body, as hinted by the small but robust skull, and based on the other raptorial sperm whales, which all have a similar body plan of a small, robust head and a large body.
L. melvillei, like all raptorials, had functional teeth on both jaws. With the presence of functional teeth in the upper jaw, it shows that L. melvillei was macropredatory. The teeth also grow up to 36 centimeters, being the largest functional teeth in the animal kingdom (tusks are considered teeth, which are obviously larger, but they are not functional for eating and do not count). Having such large teeth, it has been suggested that L. melvillei probably also had a powerful bite force to deliver a more deadly blow to its prey. Your hand would merely be squashed by a tooth of L. melvillei if it were ever to bite it! With all of these features, it all points to the conclusion that L. melvillei was an efficient apex predator, which hunted whales, sharks, and anything else it could grab.
L. melvillei's preferred prey is believed to be animals up to 10 meters in length including large whales, sharks, and other large animals. Because all the animals L. melvillei prey on lived by the surface, it meant that it was a surface hunter. Currently, it is believed that L. melvillei would attack from below, diving deep to gain momentum, then accelerating up and ramming the victim, stunning it before the jaws deliver the kill. Unfortunately, there is currently no fossils with feeding marks left by L. melvillei, so the current theories are based on the morphology of L. melvillei alone.
With the data of the skull morphology along with the continuous pattern of the hunting methods of large ocean predators, we can draw an image of how exactly L. melvillei could have hunted- A lone 6-meter Cetotherium cruises alone at the shore, away from the safety of a pod. Nearby, a hungry 18-meter L. melvillei senses prey through its echolocation and draws closer. Seeing the whale, it quickly descends as the Cetotherium obliviously continues to swim on. Having swum deep enough, the L. melvillei then rushes towards the whale, increasing speed every moment until its strong head rams into the Cetotherium's underside, sending both into the surface and quickly fall back in the water. Suffering major broken bones in the ribs, tail, and spine, the unconscious and paralyzed Ceototherium sinks hopelessly as the victorious L. melvillei turns back towards the dying whale and bites it, driving its 30 centimeter teeth deep into the flesh and destroying the vital organs, putting the Cetotherium out of its misery. The killer has won its meal, and what was left of the victim sinks to the bottom of the ocean, resting on the ancient seabed as nourishment for any lingering scavengers.
The L. melvillei holotype was dated 9.9-8.9 million years old. Isolated teeth from other parts of Peru and Chile show a temporal range of 11.6-7.2 million years, and the Beaumaris tooth extends it further to 5 million years ago. The temporal range based on South American examples sits right during a golden age of cetaceans- the diversity of mysticetes and odontocetes alike are seeing its highest level of diversity. Moreover, fossil records show mysticete population being the highest in Peru and Australia, right where L. melvillei fossils have been found. In fact, this pattern of L. melvillei teeth being found in the greatest cetacean hotspots suggest that it was a specialized hunter, designed to thrive in overpopulated oceans and could afford to evolve huge builds backed by such a fertile supply of prey (Hence, L. melvillei was the largest macropredatory tetrapod).
Diversity of mysticetes. Original graph by G. Bianucci (University of Pisa).
However, the appearance of L. melvillei during this time is still a wonder, because around this time the giant shark Carcharocles megalodon was already the apex predator of all seas. What's even more amazing is that not only did the two coexist, they also hunted the very same prey. In most situations, the pure pressure of competition would have an environment only allow one apex species, but the appearance of two equal apexes proves that there were so many whales at the time that the competition levels wouldn't strain if another one appeared. If the cetaceans were less diverse, then L. melvillei or even C. megalodon would not have existed, because it was only to the huge supply of prey that allowed them to evolve a build that requires immense amounts of eating. But it seems that L. melvillei might have been too reliant on mysticete overpopulation, as the former only appeared in areas of the highest mysticete concentrations (Western South America and Australia), while C. megalodon had a cosmopolitan distribution. This could be because the sheer size of L. melvillei was relatively huge for a hypercarnivorous mammal. Mammals, being warm-blooded require more metabolism than cold-blooded animals for the extra energy to be able to regulate its body. (While the largest animals are indeed mammals, they have easy access to food while macropredators need to hunt evasive animals which require more energy. It's no question that the largest hypercarnivores today are relatively small compared to those from past times. The advantage of being small is that you don't need as much metabolism as bigger predators and can easily adapt to a sparsely populated environment) This is no exception for L. melvillei. It's possible that the reliance of such a huge population of prey restrict their distribution to the most populated areas, and any other place with less population of cetaceans will provide too little prey for a bulky 18-meter whale to survive in.
Due to such a poor fossil record, it is unknown when exactly L. melvillei went extinct (There is an accepted temporal range, but abnormal examples like the Beaumaris tooth are constantly changing it), but we do know that it arose during the high-tide of whales during the Miocene and vanished sometime during the Pliocene or later.
During the Pliocene, a major cooling in the earth's climate occurred which created the modern-day polar ice caps. With much of the waters once warm becoming colder, it led to a chain reaction of mass extinctions. An estimated 36% of Pliocene genera went extinct. This is also when mysticete population saw a huge drop in diversity, with more than 13 different genera disappearing. Because of L. melvillei's dependence and overspecialization on such a huge population of whales, a drop in numbers could essential kill off L. melvillei via starvation, let alone the disappearance of almost half of all mysticetes.
The Pliocene also gave rise to a new group of hypercarnivores- raptorial dolphins (Orcininaes). Although having been living in the shadows of the huge L. melvillei for millions of years, they have proven to be successful even with a drop in marine diversity. With these intelligent predators proving their success in a short period of time, there is no reason why they would not have pressured even more competition onto L. melvillei. With the latter being so overspecialized for an overpopulated environment, it failed to adapt to a sudden drop in prey unlike the former, who were versatile hunters able to adapt to most changes, and quickly went extinct. Raptorial dolphins, on the other hand, still exist today as the ocean's apex predator and remain unthreatened as a whole species.
L. melvillei currently does not have a stable place in the phylogenic tree and is still deemed incertae sedis like all other raptorial sperm whales. When the first raptorial physeteroid B. shingensis was known to the public in 1995, it was unlike any cetacean, with a physeteroid-resembling body but with raptorial jaws not seen by any before. Even after the discovery of the other known raptorials during the early 2000s, we still don't have enough knowledge to make an exact placement, although we do have a basic idea of where they would go into. L. melvillei is currently a unique physeteroid, sharing no direct relatives (subfamilies), although its closest relatives are the other raptorial physeteroids Zygophyseter and Brygmophyseter.
Cladogram by G. Bianucci (University of Pisa). L. melvillei is spelled Leviathan.
-Lambert, O., Bianucci, G., Post, K., Muizon, C. D., Salas-Gismondi, R., Urbina, M., & Reumer, J. (2010). The giant bite of a new raptorial sperm whale from the Miocene epoch of Peru. Nature, 466(7310), 1134-1134. doi:10.1038/nature09381
-Fang, J. (2010, June 30). Call me Leviathan melvillei. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/news/2010/100630/full/news.2010.322.html
-Lambert, Olivier; Bianucci, Giovanni; De Muizon, Christian (2016-09-01). Macroraptorial sperm whales (Cetacea, Odontoceti, Physeteroidea) from the Miocene of Peru. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society: n/a–n/a. ISSN 1096-3642. doi:10.1111/zoj.12456.
Purple text uses unofficial but possibly credible sources. These can range from accurate calculations by random people online to paleoartist's opinions on morphology. They may or may not be accurate, so you must see for yourself.
Red text uses speculation. Do not take any red text seriously unless you believe it may be credible.
I had a good weekend on the river this past Saturday and Sunday. I did some fishing and scouting for new dig spots. I have yet to find my own place where 1. no one else knows/digs that I am networked with 2. that produces decent quality and OK quantity. Saturday evening that was checked off from my fossil hunting bucket list, though. I plugged down the river in my lil 14' jon boat, saw some shells atop a bank that looked familiar to the fossil pecten in edgecomb county and made a quick dash to the shore! I had quite the struggle among the brush and trees between myself and these barely visible shells - but I made it, grabbed a very nice C. madisonius with some little barnacles atop of it. As I'm climbing down I spot something embedded in the rock/hardened clay and got so excited I literally laughed out loud. MEGLADON TOOTH! -This I was not expecting, but welcomed! I pried it out, really neat color and sadly chipped away about a third - but still in good condition and a promising sign as I looked around and also found two beautiful little great whites almost pearly white! Such unique colored teeth for this part of eastern NC as normally my finds, like GMR, are darker grays and blacks and then you have the aurora teeth and hour east that these appeared more like in color but still different. I would love to know the minerals responsible for this coloration here. Anyhow, I returned with my Good digging partner, Rick, Sunday and we found a few more things that were alright. More to explore - more to come I'm sure!
Toby (my 10yo son) and I at the site for a group #BlackFriday #Fossil hunt #optoutside #outddoorresearch, Nov 25, 2016
There's a particular creek/ditch site my son and I like to frequent. It's not the easiest site and not always as productive as we'd like, but it's a good site nonetheless. I've been studying the stratigraphy to better
understand what could be there as I get to know the species of the fossils we find. We have found a number of things from micro shark teeth like tigers, to bigger items like rib bones and other bone frags, various
Partial whale/dolphin skull
vertebrae from sharks and fish, marine mammal teeth and bones, and more. I've even consulted one of the paleontologists at the College of Charleston, where I'm studying to become a geologist. It appears to be Chandler Bridge and I'm looking into what is underneath it (what we walk on in the creek). It's super hard and I was told by more seasoned hunters yesterday it's likely either marl or limestone. This would be consistent with our finds and with the idea of a marine/estuarine environment. It would be interesting if the marl/limestone underneath is Ashley formation, though. That would mean we are a bit older in the timeline than thought. Chandler Bridge is late Oligocene (~23-24 mya) and Ashley is early Oligocene (~26.5-30 mya). The top section of the site has a lot of artificial fill, however, so there is no telling where it comes from. After storms I have found a huge mako and huge Angustidens tangled in the roots only a foot or two from the surface so it had to be artificial fill.
However, lately when we go we've seen something pretty horrible going on.
Normally, the fossil hunters we encounter are good, honest folks. They are hunting for personal collections or to make some money and are pretty good about taking care of the sites they hunt at. After all, if we do not take care of these sites, they will be destroyed and stop producing fossils. There's the logos of the matter, right? There is also the logic that if we destroy sites, that are public lands, those that administer and care for them can shut us out, much like the town of Summerville was compelled to do. It is my understanding that some fossil hunters were so - um, "enthusiastic", shall we say - about their hunts, that they were digging into banks (which I usually refer as creek and ditch walls as many are very steep and deep) that they were breaching private property lines and risking other people's properties. So basically, just take care of the sites and they will take care of you. Makes sense, right?
Well, guess what, folks - it's happening here.
One of the several dig outs I found
Looking for micros despite the fall
When I first went to this site in about Aug/Sept of 2015, I had spied it on Google maps as a new fossil hunter (and am still quite the novice). Another experienced hunter told me it had promise but was a site he didn't like to go to for various reasons. I decided to give it a go. I went alone as I tend to do when checking out a new place I'm unfamiliar with. I'd rather not have my child with me in such a scenario. When I arrived, I walked to the edge of the creek bank and my use of the word "wall" couldn't be more appropriate. It was a nearly 90 degree vertical 15-20 foot wall to the bottom. I found a spot with what I thought to be some decent hand and foot holds and started my climb down. However, when I put my full weight on the foot holds, the wall gave out and fell straight to the bottom. I was pretty scraped up from the thorny flora overgrown on the wall but didn't break any bones, so I went ahead and did my little fossil hunt for a couple of hours only coming up with some micro shark teeth. I would later learn that I had a blown disc in my neck. See, I already had one fusion in my neck about four years prior to this and apparently a disc below that fusion had herniated. I suspect, though admit it is only conjecture, that this fall caused the disc to give out because I began to have symptoms just after this fall. While conducting my hunt on this particular trip out, I saw that people had been digging into the bottom of the wall and wondered if I had been climbing above such a spot, which caused it to give out when I tried to climb on it.
It was some time before I returned to that site, in part due to the fact that I was diagnosed with that blown disc and required surgery in December 2015 to fuse more vertebrae. It was disheartening. I can only have one more fusion and I'm only 39 years old. It's depressing to think about. Therein lies my pathos. Many people have other various emotions tied to fossil hunting and how to go about it. I've found it to be a very charged subject, for sure.
Black Friday 2015 there was a group hunt. I was going to join them, however I had just received that diagnosis of a blown disc and didn't want to risk further injury. I gave the organizer of that hunt the location and warned about the difficulty I had getting to it. I had also let him know that there was a massive wash out in one part because of the "Thousand Year" flooding in October 2015 (I may write another blog on why that phrase was massively misused). Apparently, there were some really cool finds, or a really cool find there, so after my recovery, I went back. I went with my son and it was overall uneventful - no falls thankfully.
Angustidens teeth I found that day
I did find a nice Angy (and a second at another site) but then we only found a couple of micros. We met and conversed with a seasoned hunter that IIRC was there with a group he brought on a hunt tour. There was a lot of digging but nothing that seemed very destructive and certainly nothing that was undermining the slopes that would cause them to fail. We chatted and I learned a few things. It's always nice to talk to people that have been doing this for so long.
Angustidens teeth I found that day
Later, in I believe April 2016, I took a friend of mine on his first fossil hunt and he killed it! The Odontoceti tooth and the rib bone above were among some of what he found there that day. The water level was low compared to the previous times I had been there and he's pretty adventurous, so we went places at that site I had never been before. We also found a spot to climb out of and now, Toby and I use it to get into the creek. It's not steep at all and it's not as deep there either.
Well, I've only been twice since I started at CofC in August and that has been this month, November 2016. We've had some great finds, especially since the water is really, really low (we've had nearly no rain at all since Hurricane Matthew hit in October). However, the practices that are being used by one or more people at this site recently leave utter destruction. I'm not exaggerating when I say that either. It was so bad when we went yesterday for the group Black Friday Hunt that the creek was almost blocked off as both banks had been horribly undercut and the rubble nearly met in the middle of the creek.
This isn't a natural erosion process. This is clearly the work of a human or humans; you can clearly see the shovel marks in the bank. This is far worse than even the dig outs that I witnessed when I first was here that caused me to fall and blow a herniated disc last summer!
What may be another real kick in the pants is that this undercutting is not well understood by me as they are not sifting what they are leaving behind. We have even pulled micro tiger shark teeth out of the huge chunks of rubble they left behind. It's confusing and I don't understand it. I can only assume they are looking for very large teeth. The biggest I've found are 2-2.5 inch Angustidens. There are no megalodons that I've ever seen and Angies and Megs are not in the same time period. Angies lived in the Oligocene (appropriate for Chandler Bridge and Ashley formations) and megalodon lived during the Pliocene and Miocene Epochs. As far as I know, they did not overlap so there shouldn't be any megs here, especially if this is closer to the Ashley formation than I thought.
This undercutting is extremely destructive and dangerous! It will cause these slopes to fall and the banks will wash out again after we have heavy rains. Maybe that is what the person/people doing this hope to achieve? However there is a massive flaw in that thought process. Several, actually.
First off, it will cause other fossils to be lost. I get it, people want the big boys. They want 2-3 inch Angies, they want big whale teeth, they want full skulls - but by doing this, when it rains, when this slope fails and collapses, all the other fossils will be washed away, the likelihood of finding any "big boys" will still be slim, more sediment will be in the creek covering the fossils that are settling and being deposited by the water in the bottom of the creek (where we have found our great finds, by the way), and you are destroying the area.
This may very well get tools and digging banned everywhere we hunt. Then what? What will you do then? I hope you are reading this. I hope you are hearing what I am trying to say. I get you probably don't care for the environment as much as others but I hope you hear your bottom line shrinking. As the people that live there start to see this, they may very well go to their city and county councils and follow Summerville's model. Or they may go with what other area's outside the Lowcountry have done and ban hunting altogether. And that is sad. There are not enough paleontologists here to find all that needs to be found. Whether they are in people's personal collections, up for sale, or being donated to museums, it is far better that people are out finding fossils and bringing those bones to the light of day than for them to remain covered for the world to never see again.
Here comes the ethos: no matter your philosophy there should be the inclusion of proper care of the sites where you hunt. If you dig into the banks/walls of creeks and ditches, please consider slope failure in your process. Remember that other people use these places and a slope failure can harm, even kill people. There are massive crevasses in the slopes now and cracks appearing in the top where people walk and ride 4x4 vehicles. There may be service vehicles accessing this dirt road as well. This is extremely dangerous! Aside from that, destroying where you hunt will not provide better fossils. It will close off the site and keep fossils buried in the rubble that is left behind instead.
View from the top of the bank - you cannot even see the slope has been undercut
When you sift gravel, make sure live creatures such as fresh water claims and dragonfly nymphs are immediately returned to the water. After sifting, if you toss the gravel onto the bank, please return it to the water after you are done for the day. How can the gravel capture more fossils from the water if it's sitting on the banks?
Aside from those smaller creatures we have also encountered deer, snakes, and seen evidence of dogs, raccoons and other animals. Remember this is their home. Please, respect that. Destruction of their habitat will affect how they survive (such as relying more on going towards human homes for food sources). If we tread more lightly and leave their ecosystem in tact, they can keep their own food sources and shelters without needing to encroach on ours. And please, for those that don't understand, it's not necessary to kill a snake just because you see it. Snakes will prefer to escape so give it that chance to get away. You will be fine.
I know this has been a long read and people prefer short status updates instead. But this couldn't be condensed more. I'm a somewhat "wordy" person and am working on trying be more concise; however, this had several points of view. People fossil hunt for many different reasons and I hoped to appeal to everyone's points of view without making it sound like this is how all fossil hunters behave. We don't. This destruction is caused by one person or a very few number of people. But the rest of us need to make sure we are educating people about why this sort of destruction is unnecessary and uncalled for. I am not trying to be rude, "holier-than-thou", or trying to offer a lecture (though I clearly have). I just wish to inform. I hope that I have. Please feel free to share and comment. Thank you.
Sorry it has been so long since I last posted. I have been so busy with school, family life, and lots of technical problems. But I finally was able to finish my video and I am so excited to share my work with all of you!
This video is about my latest fossil cleaning, It is my favorite trilobite to date! It is actually a complete body fossil, not just a shell, or a piece of one. I did learn a few new things this time. I had some trouble with this one because the air scribe I have is not not suited for microscopic fossils, which is what I am cleaning up. Because of this I ended up damaging my fossil. A technique I am trying is to find the edges of the fossil and clean them out before I clean out the middle of the fossil. I am doing this because the air abrasive is basically a s sand paper in air form. The top of this trilobite is quite detailed, if I cleaned up the detailed section first it would leave it open to be hit by unintentional air abrasive and thus damaging it. So I left the top to be done last. This seemed to work well. Which is pleasing. Watch and see how it all turned out!
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Welcome to the first entry of my dino blog! I figured for the first entry I should do something exciting and personal to me, so I'm doing a face-off between my two favourite dinosaurs: masiakasaurus and noasaurus! These two dinos are roughly the same size and are the two smallest abelisaurids found so far. Before we get into the match-up, lets look at some stats and figures for the reptiles themselves.
First off we have masiakasaurus, a piscivorous dinosaur with long, outward jutting teeth designed to capture and make sure any fish caught can't escape. Its arms had to be strong in order for it to hold on to its wriggling and squirming prey, and it's fingers end with hooked claws that would latch onto any fish snatched from the riverbank. It was 5.6 feet long (2 metres) and definitely is a strong and deadly competitor.
Now we have noasaurus, an abelisaurid that closely resembles the maniraptorans, for the killing claw on nova's hands was originally thought to be based on it's foot, like a raptor. Noasaurus was an active hunter and could reach blisteringly fast speeds, presumably using similar hunting techniques to deinonychus and velociraptor- going for the soft, fleshy part throat of the animal. This abelisaur was 7.9 feet long (2.6 metres) and will definitely prove more than a match for masiakasaurus.
This fight would probably only happen if noasaurus' hunting grounds started to clash with the section of the river masiakasaurus hunts by. As rivers generate a large amount of noise, noasaurus would definitely gain the advantage as it snuck up on masiaka, who would be facing the river, searching for prey. Noasaurus' first move would presumably to lunge from behind onto masiakasaurus' neck, attempting to get a killing strike in with the claw on it's hand. This move would likely push them both into the river (dinosaurs are pretty dumb, so noasaurus wouldn't have planned for that to happen!) where masiakasaurus would gain the advantage. It's outward jutting teeth would have to be strong to hold staring and thrashing prey, but they just weren't suited for attacking other dinosaurs. The hooked talons on it's hands, however... As masiakasaurus lacks hunting and attacking instinct, it would probably throw some wild slashes at the lightly built noasaurus, who would be struggling to keep it's snout above the water. Masiakasaurus would probably have experience from falling in to it's hunting grounds, and so would be prepared to get out. And as masiakasaurus would escape the confines of the water, the blood and gashes from the battle would attract some other aspiring aquatic predators. The poor, drowning noasaurus would presumably be finished by a crocodile of some sort or, once it drowned, scavenged by some smaller, predatory fish. So, in the end... MASIAKASAURUS WINS!
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Please read this section before continue in this blog
Currently this blog only contains my personal information on:
1- micropaleontology of a section in Iran (Arak) which described here. (in website gallery only images+microfacies- complete refrence is in the excel file)
2- some palynological works
you probably fisrt should download the following:
- Map of the area: http://wikisend.com/download/391330/Map-final.jpg
- Excel file for the complete refrence(Farsi Refrence is more complete):
- pictures of thin sections are only samples and sure you can't get much information from there. in proper time i will put better images.
- whole content is only for educational purposes and also mistakes happens all the times
- Contents might get updated anytime
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Some Background: I was already somewhat familiar with the idea that one had to have a license to collect certain fossils. As a child, I'd spent enough summer days at Kelly Rock Springs to find the occasional 'other fossil' in addition to the plethora of shark teeth usually found. These other fossils would get enjoyed for the afternoon and then left behind. I never found anything particularly impressive, I needed glasses but couldn't be bothered to wear them around water and thus really couldn't see anything. One day though, a friend of mine found a fantastic large tooth, mastodon or mammoth. Watching him relinquish that tooth to an adult collector with the proper license reinforced the necessity of having the appropriate licensing. Of course, at that time, I would have needed a parent to sign me up and they weren't overly interested. I couldn't blame them, they were busy.
Licensing and Legalities: I'm a chicken. I can't help but feel I should get that out of the way first. I spend hours reading before trying pretty much anything. The first thing I searched for was where to apply for a license to collect vertebrate fossils. I sent in my application and a short two weeks later received back my fossil collecting license. Here in Florida, the license is just for vertebrate fossils collected on state land. Collecting of human artifacts is prohibited. Shark teeth are thus far excluded from any licensing requirements. The license carries with it the obligation to report back all findings before renewing the license at the end of the year. Sixty days from the date of reporting, the fossil ownership reverts to me if the state decides they don't need the fossil.
Deciding where to hunt: This has been a tougher question. I will be taking my 5 year old daughter with me and feel uncomfortable taking her to some of the better fossil locations. Most of the good locations here in the state of Florida are in freshwater rivers which also happen to be the location of gators. That pretty much leaves us with beach collecting. If we join a club, perhaps one of the mine field trips which allow children. In the meantime, another option has availed itself.
Fossil hunting from the comfort of home: I'm trying not to make a nuisance of myself in the forums. I read until I think my brain is as full as it can get and then take a break. I try not to respond as I don't yet have anything of value to add to the conversation. Thanks to this forum, I realized that there aren't just regular sized fossils out there. There are tiny fossils too. In a fantastic stroke of luck, I realized that the micro-fossils I liked the best are from my home state. Better yet, the forum member collecting this material is from my hometown. How's that for convenience?
Starting out with tiny fossils: It was really difficult to resist just digging right into the bag and looking for fossils. I decided that this time I would start out organized. I ordered gem jars and tiny bags from a jewelry supply. I picked up some drug store magnifying glasses and decided to start sorting. Right away, I determined that the drug store magnifying glasses were rubbish. They made things larger, but, still blurry. I pity anyone who tries to read a newspaper with the brand I purchased. At the moment, I am picking out anything that looks sort of biological and then using my Epson V300 scanner to see if anything I've side-lined is actually a fossil. I will have to sort it all again as soon as I have a better way to view these tiny fossils.
Imaging and Identifying: I already own a DSLR, an older Canon Rebel. Unfortunately, I still only own the kit lens. As much as I would love to justify a macro lens, I think that I will start out with a Vivitar close-up lens kit. I'm hoping that with bright enough lighting I will be able to create images decent enough for identifying fossils easily. I would really like a microscope, but, the wide range of options in microscopes has left me undecided. So far, my best images have come from the Epson scanner. I'm hoping that the Vivitar lenses and better lighting will be enough to make the Canon equal to the task. I've already found quite a few neat little fossils, but, I know that my images of those fossils aren't good enough for more than loose identification.
In Conclusion: I'm twenty days into the fossil collecting hobby. I guess I shouldn't feel too bad that I don't have much of this figured out yet. I'm sure that most of this blog won't be particularly helpful to anyone. I'm mostly posting this so that a couple years from now when something hasn't worked out and I'm frustrated with the hobby I can look back and see that I'm a bit less of a dummy than I was when I started. <--- Yes, this run-on sentence is unforgivable, but, I am sick yet again and my 100+ fever is making me apathetic about grammar.
Today I went fossil hunting down to Denton, Texas. The weather was fairly nice with some wind. The outcome were some turrilite fragments, a ton of exogyra arietina (for selling), an echinoid, some Cetaceous/Jurassic sea floor, brachiopods and a clam.
Some of many Exogyra Arietina
Cretaceous or Jurassic sea floor
I'm looking to plan a trip for shark teeth hunting possibly in Summerville, SC. Im currently in Pender County, NC, so Green Mile Run isnt out of the question. Any suggestions, locations or people who want to group up? Haven't had too much experience, but i've leant its the company that matters over what you find.
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An enormous bipedal dinosaur believed to be able to run up to 25 mph. Sue was the largest specimen ever found measuring 40 feet long and standing 13 feet tall. She was 28 years old when she died of unknown causes possibly an injury to her leg causing her to be unable to hunt her normal prey. Tyrannosaur weighed about 9 tons. While not as long as some of the other carnivores of its time Tyrannosaurus was a dangerous beast although some believed it to be a scavenger. They lived in North America from the Dakotas to New Mexico.
It was believed to have had feathers as a chick
A braincase of an adult specimen. It had a large section in its brain devoted to strategy
The growth rate of an average Tyrannosaurus Rex
Adult skull and the skull of an 11 year old juvenile
A track believed to be Tyrannosaurus
I went to Post Oak Creek and found a lot of teeth. The water was freezing and my feet were numb. I recommend going there if you live in Texas. Summer or Spring would be the best time to go. For me the water levels were high but I used a sifter and found some cool things.The results were 20 teeth and a lot of shells.
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Alethopteris are quite common at Saint Clair location. But apparently there are at least 6 different species.
These are all from "Fossil Plants from the Anthracite Coal Fields of Eastern Pennsylvania."
A zip file that contains the PDF can be downloaded from http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us.
Here's a direct link.http://www.dcnr.stat...dcnr_016425.zip
Sigmund Freud theorized that the act of collecting ties back to the time of our toilet training. Freud suggested that the loss of control and what went down the toilet was a traumatic occurrence to us human and thus in our subconscious we develop the desire to collect things as a mean to try to gain back not only control but “possessions” of that which were lost so many years ago.......
O.K. if I tried to rephrase what I just shared in a non-academic language is that we human collect because of the trauma we faced when we couldn’t control and keep our poo poo when we were toddlers - man that sounds pretty bizarre (in a funny and entertaining way - no disrespect to Mr. Freud) while at the same time stirred my brain into thinking really deep about the purpose, the psychology and even the philosophy behind our beloved hobbies of collecting, whether they be fossils, minerals, books, etc.
Thus in this blog, I will attempt to share my thought and theories that are my own take on this particular subject. Though I will have to say in advance before you read that this is in no way an attempt to be academic in nature - just pure ramblings for the purpose of my own amusement and if it turns out to be enlightening then all the better! So here it goes:
**switching on psychological rambling mode**
My perspective and belief is that collecting is an act that is stemmed from our human nature’s instinct that reacts towards “Fear” and “Uncertainty”, and there are quite several motives and psychology behind collecting that I believe support this notion:
Fear of Mortality
A collector collects due to a deep rooted fear of mortality and whether if you will be remembered or leave legacy after you have passed away. We can observe collectors of this type who often will go on to donate collections to public institutions or create museums to exhibit their collections. We as human (at least I believe most of us are anyway) desire to be remembered in some ways and thus our collection or what we have contributed will leave a mark in history and in essence immortalize us with our legacy which is our collections.
Fear of Being Alone
Some collectors start collecting as a mean to seek company of like-minded individuals who share similar passions or to experience acceptance as be part of a unique society, group and culture; for we human are social animals that instinctively seek group safety and social belongings or we become lost and terrified. This motive therefore, is also based on our fear instinct that has been implanted in our psyche.
Fear of Non-Existence
I think it’s probably sensible to assume that we all collect in order to know more about ourselves or to remind us of who we are, our interests, our loves, our passions and our nostalgic pasts. Thus the motive of collecting from this perspective is related to our fear instinct. For to remind of ourselves is to reinforce ourselves that we exist while at the same time reminding us of moments of happiness that make us feel alive - and those moments for collectors are the times we interact with and make ourselves surrounded by the objects of our obsessions. In addition we could say that, the act of building a collection creates a type of blueprint of our inner psyche and of a person’s life through the objects the collector acquired and cherished - the experiences the collector went through in his life. Therefore, the act of collecting is the act of painting a portrait of our life stories and our souls, through objects that speak about our love and fascinations. It reinforces our identity, our memories and our existence.
Fear of Uncertainty & Chaos
Collecting as a mean to create meaning to an otherwise seemingly chaotic world. We as collectors collect by gathering groups of objects that form cohesiveness or relationship between the pieces or to tell a certain story behind those naturally unrelated pieces and thereby forming meaning to the collection. Some collectors form collection in response to certain problems or sense of wonder of the chaos presented in front, and by building a collection the collector is able to tackle that problem. For example, a collector might face the question of “How can I represent the diversity of the Eocene mega fauna of North America?” (problem / chaos) and thus the collector embarks on a collecting quest to gather specimens that would build a complete collection of Eocene North American mega fauna specimens collection (solution / order). The act of collecting creates a collection that in essence, becomes the solution to the collectors dilemma. This, I would also say that is part of our deep rooted human psyche of fear of chaos and the unknown, and thus our instinct is to try to limit the chaos by creating orders (or illusions of order) to an otherwise chaotic world (in our perception at least) much in the same ways as how the early humans banded together, formed groups and created cultures or rituals to face the world’s problems or threats. Collectors on the other hands, tackle the chaos by creating order in the collection and in so doing the collector gains a semblance of power and control over disorganization and chaos.
Fear of the Absence of Aliveness
Collecting is without a doubt, a pleasurable pursuit for collector, whereas an audiophile takes pleasure in listening to music, food connoisseur indulges in the enjoyment food & wine, or art aficionado indulge in art appreciation and possession. We collectors induce our senses of aesthetics and pleasure from acquiring and creating collections of objects in order to feel enjoyment. In a way, this could be viewed as related to our fear instinct because we fear to not being able to feel the pleasurable pursuits in life. For we human feel alive when we experience such pleasures, whether the pleasures be from the indulgence of consumable & wearable objects or simply to possess and be surrounded by the things that give us joy like our collections.
Fear of Powerlessness
Collecting can be viewed as an act that I think came from our hunting instinct - to explore our sense of wonder of the unknown, to challenge the goals of acquisitions of hard-to-find objects; this in my view is in essence “the thrill of the hunt”. This particular collecting mindset is also based on our response to our fear instinct for when we hunt, we transform ourselves from being powerless prey to being powerful hunter and dominators - thus hunting (or in essence collecting) is an act to overcome our fear instinct while the “hunting” and while at the same time the journey of the hunt makes us feel alive. Also, when thinking about this motive I think it makes sense as we tend to see many collectors tend to be drawn to fossils of creatures of great power and ferocity or majestic beauty. For some collectors to possess such specimens make the collectors feel the power of those long dead creatures probably in similar manners in how hunters have trophies of their hunt to show their skills as hunters to overcome such beasts.
Now don’t these reasons and psychology of collecting sound much more appealing than Sigmund Freud’s potty training explanation? But, before some may think that “Collecting = Fear” may seem like a degrading notion at first glance, I present to you my next theory:
**switching on philosophical rambling mode**
Fear of Being just another Animal - Collecting to Transcend Humanity
Despite our instinctual fear that drives us to collect, the act of collecting is also an act of human transcendence and transformation. Some collect objects of power to symbolize the attaining of that power or the conquering of such powerful force that ultimately makes us feel more powerful than who we are without the collection. An act of collecting transform us into more powerful being (whether physically, socially, economically or spiritually): a person with no social distinction or significance can become conservators, scholars and even admired icons of historical significance. Collecting can transform the powerless into the powerful, the ignorant into a scholar, a hoarder into a curator and in many cases, turning common man into sage.
Our fear of mortality, uncertainty and instability of our universe makes us human so special and able to achieve our transcendence from mere creatures of survival instinct into creators, innovators, artists, philosophers or sages. Thus it is the shadow that allows us to appreciate the light; the fear of death that makes us cherish the beauty of life; the brutality of our darkest side that gives rise to the reactionary opposites that make us saints, protectors and self-less beings capable of great courage and heroism.
Therefore, even if the psychology of collecting comes down to “Our Fear of Mortality” (death with no legacy or inability to feel “alive”), “Our Fear of Non-Existence” (due to the lack of social presence, acceptance or without a group to belong); that very fear creates motives for us to have “Desire for Transcendence” into something more than what we are. Thus I would make the case that the act of collecting is both instinctual (as a reaction to our deep rooted fear of mortality & physical existence) and spiritual (as a path [and an enjoyable one!] towards transcendence of the human existence).
**switching off philosophical rambling mode**
My goodness after I just wrote all that, I just had an idea that the next time, when I meet people who think my collecting and obsession with eclectic objects are weird, bizarre or non-sensual, I can start quoting my philosophical ramblings that my collecting hobby allows me to transcend spiritually and start going into Zen mode - that’s should be entertaining to say the least, lol. Who would have thought our hobbies could be so spiritually stimulating.
Anyway that’s all for my rambling for today. Hope you enjoy the blog entry
I thought i'd just make the one blog for pretty much everything that i find or want to post, rather than different blogs for different types of specimens, as i'm not a particularly busy hunter. If ever i go on a fossil hunting trip, or uncover a fossil in my back garden, then i will probably post pictures on here, as well as anything else i feel you should know! Thanks for taking your time to read this utterly boring introductory post thing, and i hope to post soon!
Dear Fossil Forum members!
This report deals with ammonoids from the former zone of Protrachyceras archelaus, which is our present Longobardian within the Ladinian stage of the marine Triassic timescale.
A beautiful view of the surging “rock waves” of the incoming tectonic thrust sheets. The valley between the two Mountains in the middle of the picture marks the tectonic border between the mainly Triassic Hallstatt Unit and the Tirolikum Unit of the Totengebirgs nappe (in the background).
Since the beginning of the geological research within the Northern Calcareous Alps of Austria in the middle of the 19th century, about 500 species of Triassic ammonoids have been described in great Monographs by Mojsisovics, Hauer, Diener and other early authors. The ammonoids described therein came from upper Anisian to uppermost Norian aged parts of the Hallstatt limestone in Austria.
Only in the lower to middle Ladinian period, a gap exists in the rich ammonoid record of these early researchers.
This gap was explained by them as an interruption of sedimentation in the Ladinian time or tectonically reduced Ladinian strata during the genesis of the Alps.
During these early days no one thought of a collecting gap because Ladinian ammonoid faunae were well described and known from several localities in the Southern Alps and the Bakony Mountains in Hungary.
In 1882 Mojsisovics pictured ammonoids of Anisian and Ladinian age in his monographic work “Die Cephalopoden der mediterranen Triasprovinz”.
The locations mentioned therein reach from the upper Anisian Schreyeralm limestone here in Austria to several Ladinian locations of the former Austrian provinces Südtirol, Lombardy and the kingdom of Hungary, which were also part of the former Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy at this time. Included in this work were also Scythian and Anisian ammonoids from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Fig.2 Frontpage of Mojsisovics second great monograph from the year 1882.
“The detailed accurate descriptions and illustrations provided by Mojsisovics are unquestionably the greatest contribution by a single author towards appreciating the astonishing beauty and variety of Triassic ammonoids” (cit. E. T. TOZER).
Therefore every recent Triassic ammonoid researcher includes these old works in the standard literature of Triassic ammonoids. These old works were so to speak, a cornerstone for building the marine middle and upper Triassic timescale of our days.
Unfortunately the early stratigraphic scales of Mojsisovics had some mistakes. Originally the stratigraphic position of the “Norian” stage was set by him below the Carnian.
He used the term Norian for the time frame we today call Ladinian. Mojs. thought that most parts of today’s real Norian Hallstatt limestone of Austria were of the same age as real Ladinian strata in the Southern Alps. Some misinterpret location data, i.e. the wrong assumed position of the fineclastic Zlambach marls as base of the Hallstatt limestone led him to this wrong assumption.
It was the Austrian geologist Alexander Bittner, a contemporary of Mojsisovics, who introduced the term Ladinian into literature by recognizing the false assumptions of Mojsisovics. The name Ladinian was chosen by Bittner after the Ladinian folk of the Southern Alps/Dolomites. At this time this area was also part of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy with its capital Vienna and it’s so called “Vienna school” of the palaeontology institutions there.
Probably this “miss take” of Mojsisovics led to some changed ammonoid zones within the Norian timescale, which last into the 20th century.
It was the merit of the Canadian Triassic worker E.T. Tozer to correct this long lasting error by establish his own North American Triassic timescale, based only on North American, mainly Canadian Triassic ammonoid locations.
The pelagic (deeper marine) Triassic sedimentation in Austria starts with the uppermost Anisian Flexo-Ptychites beds/lenses of the Schreyeralm limestone. This is also the base of the Hallstatt formation. The next frequent ammonoid lenses/layers occur within uppermost Ladinian/lower Carnian strata in this formation. The lower to middle Ladinian time frame in between was not well documented with ammonoids by the early researchers of the 19th century. At some historical locations the lower Ladinian part is/was given but was not really recognised by them.
Later, modern researchers used microfossils to determine the placement of large parts of the grey to violet limestone in the Hallstatt formation into the Ladinian. Within the 20th century also scarce ammonoids were mentioned from these middle Ladinian strata.
Fig.3 Anisian Schreieralm limestone with cross sections of Flexoptychites sp.
Fig.4 Monophyllites sphaerophyllus (HAUER) from the Schreieralm limestone
In general, ammonoid locations are not frequently known within the Ladinian part of the Hallstatt limestone.
The most common fossils are Crinoid stem parts, Bivalves and Conodonts.
The limestone facies consists of red to grey, sometimes yellowish to grey coloured limestone which is locally interbedded with marls.
Also strongly condensed successions are common there and fossils also do not occur in continuous layers.
Comparable Ladinian ammonoid faunas are also well known from similar Hallstatt type limestone in Greece and Italy. They show similar ammonoid faunae of Ladinian to Carnian age.
In the Tethys realm the whole Ladinium is split into two subdivisions today.
Upper Ladinian = Longobardian,
Lower Ladinian = Fassanian,
The historical zone ammonite of the Longobardian is Protrachyceras archelaus (LAUBE).
Protrachyceras archelaus (LAUBE), in MOJSISOVICS “Die Cephalopoden der mediterranen Triasprovinz“ Wien 1882
Tafel XXXL, Fig. 1,
But Protrachyceras archelaus LAUBE do occur within a longer time span and is therefore not perfect for stratigraphic aims. The old archelaus zone of the Ladinian was therefore changed into several Longobardian and Fassanian ammonoid zones of today.
Within the Tethys realm the Longobardian is split into the ammonoid zones of:
The Fassanian is split to the ammonoid zones of:
The ammonoids shown in this report come from a condensed fossil bed roughly inserted to the turquoise marked ammonoid zones of the timescale below.
Historical Ladinian locations
The condensed lower Carnian fossil lenses on the famous historical Feuerkogel show almost all a portion of the upper Ladinian at their base. This is also visible at other Lower Carnian locations within the Hallstatt limestone.
During the last years Proarcestes sp. from a new location are sometimes shown for sale in the internet. They are sometimes identified as Arcestes sp. from Norian strata. But it is Proarcestes, therefore its Norian age is definitely wrong.
I visited this new locality a few years ago. All locations there are of Ladinian age which is evidenced by Proarcestes cf. subtridentinus, Anolcites sp. and Epigymnites sp. This fauna is maybe slightly younger than the fauna shown later here in this report.
Fig.6 Some Epigymnites arthaberi (MOJS.) and Epigymnites moelleri (MOJS.) from the above mentioned location
The new location
Several years ago a friend and I were lucky to find a hitherto unknown middle Ladinian ammonoid location during a prospecting trip. At this location the normal limestone succession is penetrated by several fractures and tectonic influence across the normal layer direction is also visible there. The fossil layer itself, in which ammonoids were frequent, consists of a very strong condensed upper part of lower Longobardian age, indicated by Protrachyceras longobardicum (MOJS.), and a lower part of a slightly older age indicated by scarce last descendants of Ptychites cf. pauli MOJS. which show deeply incised second and third lateral saddles similar Aristoptychites or Arctoptychites.
Therefore the location is ranged by me to the transition of the ammonoid zones of Protrachyceras longobardicum and the underlying Eoprotrachyceras gredleri zone. Outside of the Tethys realm this is roughly comparable to the zones of Meginoceras meginae MC LEARN and Tuchodiceras poseidon (TOZER) of the North American timescale. Both zones are known from the Triassic of British Columbia in Canada too. Tozer, 1994, wrote that flat forms of Protrachyceras sikianum MC LEARN are comparable with Protrachyceras longobardicum (MOJS.) and the thicker morphs of Pt. sikianum MC LEARN with Pt. archelaus (LAUBE).
View of the lower, sometimes more greyish limestone part of the fossil layer. The chisel points to a Sturia cf. semiarata MOJS.
The furrows on the limestone block have their origin in the strong condensation of this limestone. One can recognize by this feature the underlying part of a condensed limestone (fossil) layer.
In contrast to the above shown picture, a view of the underside of the overlaying layer where craters/hollows are visible. These two features can be used for recognizing up and downside in strongly condensed limestone. This feature is independent from the Triassic age of the rock and occurs in condensed limestone of Jurassic age too.
The right hanging limestone block contains the fossil layer.
Protrachyceras longobardicum (MOJS). in situ. View from the underside. The upper half of the ammonoid was totally dissolved due to the extreme condensation of the uppermost limestone layer at this location.
In this location P. archelaus occurs very scarcely. It is no good indicator for stratigraphic aims here at all.
A normal collector can use the following features to insert ammonoids into the Ladinian timescale.
The frequent occurrence of Proarcestes sp. with a wavy end body chamber is a sign for Ladinian age.
All forms of Sturia sp. are restricted to the late Anisian and Ladinian.
The occurrence of real Ladinian Protrachyceras MOJS.
The following picture will show you the main differences between Protrachyceras, Trachyceras and Neoprotrachyceras.
In contrast to Trachyceras the venter furrow of real Protrachyceras MOJS. is bordered by nodes which show a single point per node. Protrachyceras are restricted to the Ladinian.
Real Trachyceras show “broader” nodes with two or three points a node bordering the venter furrow. Trachyceras is frequent in the Lower Carnian (Julian)
The genus Neoprotrachyceras KRYSTYN looks similar toTrachyceras but shows also just one point per node, sometimes changing up to two points per node within maturity. Neoprotrachyceras is restricted to the uppermost Lower Carnian and lowermost Upper Carnian (e.g. the genus Spirogmoceras SILBERLING in the Dilleri Zone of the North American Tuvalian)
For a newbie collector it is difficult to find some fossils in the Hallstatt limestone at all. To place them into the right ammonoid zone is sometimes the easier part of the exercise.
A weathered cross section of Proarcestes sp., visible at the limestone wall. Notice the bleached limestone surface in contrast to the colour of the fresh rock.
Talus block with visible cross sections of ammonoids and orthocone nautiloids
Natural picture size is 20cm. The edges of the fossils are deeply weathered in. This can be a sign that the fossils will probably split out well.
Small idiomorphic Biotite crystals up to one mm in size, fine Feldspar crystals and thin greenish tuffitic crusts around some ammonoids and limestone clasts indicate a distant simultaneous volcanic event, adjacent to the palaeo Hallstatt realm. This is the very first observation of volcanic fallout/washout within the Hallstatt limestone column.
Within other tectonic nappes in the Northern and Southern Calcareous Alps (Dolomites) volcanic (Tuffitic) ash layers are a frequent feature in Ladinian time. In the adjacent Tirolic nappe some volcanic/tuffitic events are evidenced near the base of the archelaus zone.
The middle Ladinian fauna listed below was found at this location.
cf. Beyrichites sp.
Eupinacoceras cf. damesi (MOJSISOVICS).
Epigymnites cf. ecki (MOJS.)
Epigymnites cf. breunneri (HAUER)
Epigymnites arthaberi (MOJS.)
Gymnites raphaelis TOMMASI
Megaphyllites obolus MOJS.
Monophyllites wengensis (KLIPSTEIN)
cf. Silenticeras sp.
Sturia cf. sansovinii MOJS.
Sturia semiarata MOJS.
Proarcestes ombonii TOMMASI
Proarcestes subtridentinus MOJS.
Protrachyceras archelaus (LAUBE)
Protrachyceras longobardicum MOJS.
Ptychites cf. pauli MOJS.
Ptychites cf. plusiae RENZ
Syringoceras cf. longobardicus
Nautilus div. sp.
Austriellula dilatata (SUESS)
Important ammonoid species of the archelaus zone
A beautiful, conspicuous faunal element of the archelaus zone is Protrachyceras longobardicum MOJS. the zone ammonoid of the Langobardicum Zone
This species shows its maximum roughly in the lower middle of the former archelaus zone and can be used well for stratigraphic aims. As mentioned earlier in this report compressed variants of Protrachyceras sikanianum MC LEARN are comparable to Pt. longobardicum MOJS. The thicker variants of Pt. sikanianum rather resemble Pt. archelaus LAUBE.
Fig. 13 Protachyceras longobardicum MOJS. with Proarcestes ombonii TOMMASI and Proarcestes cf. subtridentinus MOJS.
Fig. 14 Pt. cf. longobardicum, some juvenile Arcestes sp. and the brachiopod Austriellula dilatata.
Fig. 15 Epigymnites breunneri (HAUER) and Monophyllites wengensis (KLIPSTEIN)
Fig. 16 Epigymnites arthaberi MOJS. and Monophyllites wengensis (KLIPSTEIN)
Fig. 17 Gymnites raphaelis TOMMASI
Fig. 18Discinisca sp. Looks like a fossil Limpet gastropod (Patellidae) but in reality it is an inarticulate Brachiopoda
Fig. 19Sturia cf. semiarata together with Proarcestes cf. ombonii
The most frequent faunal element of the Ladinian within the Tethys realm is Proarcestes BRONN. This genus occurs with several species up to Carnian strata. In our location Proarcestes subtridentinus MOJS. and Proarcestes ombonii TOMMASI was often found. The second one can reach the dimension of a small ball.
Fig. 20 Proarcestes subtridentinus
Fig. 21 Monophyllites wengensis (KLIPSTEIN)
In the Hallstatt limestone this genus starts with the Anisian Monophyllites sphaerophyllus via the Ladinian M. wengensis up to the Carnian M. simonyi. Within the descendants of the Triassic Phylloceratida the ancestor of the Jurassic Ammonitida is supposed.
Fig. 22 Ptychites cf. pauli MOJS. This species of Ptychites show deeply incised second and third Lateral saddles. I think that this is a feature of allmost all "late" species of Ptychites.
Fig. 23 Ptychites cf. plusiae RENZ
Fig. 24 Sageceras walteri
I hope you have enjoyed this new report about the Ladinian strata of my favourite collecting area.
Again I thank, “Danke Roger”, Fossil forum member “Ludwigia” for correcting my “Austrian” English.
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Hello to The Fossil Forum!
Lately I am starting a souvenir collection of Aetobatis fossils. It's slow going, but I am just beginning:) I do all my collecting trading or purchasing fossils, since I live in Hawaii, and am disabled so can't easily get out in the fossil fields.
When I was young I used to see the baby Spotted Eagle Rays swimming in the bay or out in the canal at Waikiki. They are adorable! I don't know how long this link will be good, but here is a short video I found on the net. Someone is selling live baby rays for aquariums. So cute!
I want to recommend 2 of some of my favorite fossil dealers for shopping for shark and ray fossils.
Buried Treasure Fossils: http://www.buriedtreasurefossils.com
Vast selection of shark and ray teeth from all over the world, you can spend hours just browsing these catalogs! Very informative as well as very good shopping!
Fossiliferous: E.R. Matheau-Raven:
Very nice selection of all kinds of fossils, with a lot of unusual UK pieces.
I just ordered some Aetobatis teeth from both of these friendly and helpful dealers this morning. The teeth are fragments, but very good ones, fine examples of extinct Aetobatis. Some of the pieces are 1" long, I wonder how bit the rays were in life?
That's all for now, talk to you all soon:) Good luck fishing in stone my friends!
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So im a little unsure where to start out, i guess im going to write this all down to try and gather my thoughts and update my progress, Im aiming to become competent enuf in fossil prep to be able to get a paid full time job in something im massivley intrested in. Currently ive got boxes and boxes of uk fossils, mostly ammonites. They all need prepping too. Seems the ideal place to start, but first i need the equitment. Check, well sort of ive got a compressor and a st pen tho its in storeage and about 300 miles away. When i did use it ive found it nearly impossible to clen anything up, so the next step is to get a TT pen orderd. money permitting i shuld have this by the end of this month.
On a slightly unrelated not......ive got all these ammonites and would happily trade them for other fossils so i can get some slightly diffrent things to prep. Secondly im in the UK , so anyone wanting to come over hear to hunt let me know as ive got some sweet spots whear ive found an icthysaur and ammonite about 18inches across. I will add pics some time but they are in storeage too at the moment.