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Found 544 results

  1. Nancy and I revisited St. Clair (the large depression south of Burma Road) on Aug. 4. Only two other collecting teams were there - some young people who were excavating and found a lot of nice pieces, and a middle aged couple. The bear and her cub were not in sight - probably cooling off in a stream somewhere. It was 91 degrees and higher in the pit but afternoon clouds and a strong breeze made the weather comfortable. We continue to improve our excavation techniques, which are nothing fancy - just a rock hammer and chisels, but we work to extract larger (1 to 2 feet) sheets intact, which we fragment into large thin pieces. Techniques we've seen other people use include "mining" fossils in large pits, and carving out large round slabs. Some people are excavating under trees which is not cool - we hard that's what got the site closed to fossil collectors several years ago. This was a successful trip. We only spent half a day there, but met our goals. Last trip, I brought back a 2 ft. long section covered with orange and yellow fern fossils. This trip I was able to secure most of the other half of that section which is equally impressive (see photo below), plus we collected some white fossils in large (9 inches to 1 foot or longer) sections suitable for display on a shelf or on the wall. I worked to get some sections that are thin and light enough to frame but getting larger pieces intact is an art. My impression is that a lot of people seem to be using hammers and just hammering away at the substrate. This produces piles of tiny fragments and partial fossils which are discarded. This also explains why there are so many small pieces scattered everywhere. We sorted through the throwaways in the pits - if you look closely and know what to look for you can find some scarce specimens that include sections of bark from Calamites, Siggularia as well as bright white, orange and yellow ferns, groups of fossils that are a bit harder to find such as Annularia, etc. A general observation - there is a LOT of shale to excavate and explore, including many pits started by other collectors. Some look hard to extract but are easier than they look, but it requires a hammer and chisel and some careful cutting around the periphery to get out larger pieces - and often you have to remove some overburden that covers the fossil layers. Some pieces look smooth or round but some strategic hits with a chisel will segment them into small manageable sheets that sometimes come out larger than expected. It takes more time but you get more intact fossils. Also, many times I'll pull out a large sheet of shale thinking it looks totally empty or with only a few fossils visible, and will chisel it into increasingly smaller sheets with no results, then when I chisel open the very last layer, I'm rewarded with a really nice dense fossil mix. Nancy continues to use her keen eye to find unusual shapes and patterns - some of which are included in the Fossil ID section. She mentioned finding a "feathery" fern that she discarded because it looked too fuzzy - and later going through a fern book we saw that this was a feathery fern called Odontopteris. Which just goes to show that it pays to bring home stuff that looks interesting. I also found two very large neuropteris leaves - about 9 to 12 inches - but they didn't survive the segmenting process. We keep forgetting that many large fossil trees had very large leaves but they are hard to find the way most people work on smaller pieces. We don't want to move up to commercial-size excavations which defeats the purpose of this being a hobby, but we do want to keep working with our hammers and chisels to remove display size pieces. Didn't have much time to shoot photos but a few images are included here. Number 4 shows an Alethopteris and Annularia on the same fossil, which is a nice mix. The next images show "display pieces" from our trip, and a yellow fern. You can see more in our post in the Fossil ID section.
  2. These fossils are from our second visit to St. Clair (Aug 4) - several are fossils we haven't seen before so we appreciate help with IDs. Special thanks to Fossildude19 for the excellent starting points. Note: some of the images are out of order when you look at the photos below, because I am renaming and reposting them as they are being identified: 1 - Pecopteris Squamosa - This is small and the leaves are very close together and parallel - based on Lesquereux - amazing that some of the best fern identification sources are from 1879! 2 - Calamites Stem Fragment - A thin Calamites branch. 3 - Unidentified Plant - Nancy calls this a "flower" - of course it isn't, but it seems to be a different shape from others we collected at St. Clair. 4 - Alethopteris and Annularia - Included this because it makes for a nice artistic layout. 5a-5b - Asterophyllites equisetiformis - This interesting pattern appears over a large area several meters square in one part of the St. Clair site, and covers the surface of a very large flat boulder in one area of the site. (source: 6 - Siggilaria - This is our second Siggilaria trunk impression. Some of the trunk and branch fossils (Calamites, Siggilaria) are very exotic and interesting to collect. 7a-7c - Trigonocarpus (Seeds of the Alethopteris Fern) - The same shape appears in three different samples collected on our two trips and according to our friends on the site and reference materials, they appear to be Trigonocarpus seeds, which is very exciting because we keep reading about seed ferns but these are our first fossil seeds. One reference describes Trigonocarpus as the seeds of Alethopteris (which is the most common fern found at St. Clair) - other sources give these the nickname "fossil pecans" because of their physical resemblance. 8a-8b and 9a - Cyclopteris - Fan Shaped Leaves - Some of the reference books show round fan shaped versions of some common ferns but this looks like something separate so we're going with Cyclopteris. We'll try to find a separate, more articulated sample on a future trip. 10 - Unidentified Fern. 11 - Assume this is Sphenopteris. 12 - Assume this is Neuropteris - Where Neuropteris sometimes has rounded leaves (??) 13 - Sphenophyllum - Including just for fun. I'll update the names in this list as the IDs are confirmed. One of our goals continues to be, finding scarce specimens we haven't come across yet, as well as articulated fossils, designs and larger pieces for display. As you can see, we're already making great headway identifying these. Thanks to everyone who helped us ID our finds in the past 2 months, and especially for helping with these...we're really surprised how many different species there are at this single site, all very close together.
  3. More St. Clair Ferns/plants

    We are now working to identify our samples from St. Clair - finding it a bit tricky to identify these: Sample 6sm - Alethopteris (?): Thought this might be Alethopteris but it looks a bit different. Sample 7sm and 7a sm (closeup) - Sphenopteris: Not very fern-like - Missourian (see below) suggested this looks like Sphenopteris and after checking online this matches Sphenopteris so I think this confirms it. We are really pleasantly surprised how many different plant species we collected in one half day outing. - so far, we're identified - neuropteris, alethopteris, annularia/calamites, sphenophyllum, and Siggilaria. We'll post a gallery/guide to the fossils we found and the names to help others identify their ferns, sometime in the next week or two... Sample 8sm - Annularia Leaf: Looks like an Annularia leaf in 3D.
  4. This trip report complements MZKLEEN's report - we were there the same day except we mostly collected orange and yellow fern leaves. We did not see or hear the bear although we saw the signs the bear was in the area while we were there. This was a 90 minute drive for us so when we heard about the possibility it might be converted to a landfill, we made this a priority visit. St. Clair is an abandoned strip mine that looks like a broad saucer shaped depression with smooth shale covering the floor, surrounded all around by wooded hills. It's a fairly long walk through the woods to get there, but extremely scenic. Some of our photos show the layout and fossils scattered on the ground which is impressive and a little startling the first time you see this. Note: I added a few more pictures and here is some additional ID info: Most of the orange leaves are Alethopteris, some neuropteris and others here and there. The clover shaped leaves are Sphenophyllum (we also found Annularia and Calamites trunk fossils but most of these non-ferns are colored except for No. 5b below). The bark photo that I added is Sigillaria - a really interesting pattern, must have been impressive looking. The golden yellow image (just added) is Sphenopteris. There is also a reddish-orange sprig added to show that some of the specimens are almost red in color. The last image is a "stick" or stem found by Nan in a nicely articulated form. We had 3 goals for our trip: 1) collect a large specimen we could display on the wall or like a sculpture, 2) find some out of the ordinary fossils, and 3) see if there might be some insects along with the plant fossils. Goal 1: We explored places that didn't look like previous collectors had been there and excavated a very large rock that included a peek-a-boo glimpse of a layer covered with orange and yellow ferns. It took some effort to chisel away the layers of non-fossiliferous shale to free the fossil portion but when the shale fell away with the last chisel blow, wow, our eyes grew as big as saucers. The specimen turned out to be a large piece of shale 25 x 15 inches and several inches thick, covered with beautifully arranged, nicely articulated orange and yellow fossil leaves including many different types. Hiking back to the car was a challenge, given the awkward shape, jagged edges and weight of the sample but we accomplished our goal. A closeup of a small portion is included here and you can see how dense the fossils are! We also collected smaller pieces and one very nice one foot long sample covered with orange leaves. Goal 2: Nancy has a keen eye for out of the ordinary patterns and designs - she is expert at finding sphenophyllum, annularia, calamite bark and so on - we accomplished this goal also and learned a LOT about the plants and trees that exited during this period. Goal 3: No insects, but we still believe there must be some insects here, somewhere, since so many of the leaves are in perfect shape - not dried, curled or rotten - they look like they were buried in a mudslide or something, since there is almost no deterioration. This suggests there must have been some insects trapped somewhere. We plan to return soon to continue our exploration. There is a lot here to learn about and find. Hopefully we'll find more cool fossils (and no bears with cubs!). UPDATE: We revisited the site Aug. 4. You can read see our 2nd Visit trip report in a separate "orange fossil" post (no bears this time). We also posted some of our unusual finds in Fossil ID under "St. Clair 2nd Visit - Pennsylvanian Plant Fossils and Seeds" - many of the "unknowns" turned out to be fossils we did not see on our first visit. We pretty much doubled the number of species from this site, in our second visit, showing the diversity at this site. We think we accomplished a lot in 2 half-day visits.
  5. Here are the first fossil ID mysteries from our recent half day trip to St. Clair. We will post what we did in the trip report section when we have time. In the meantime, these are some things that popped out at us that we'd like to ID... First Sample: St. Clair Fern Sample - Closeup - Pennsylvanian. This is part of a large piece almost 2 feet long that we excavated from an obscure location. I managed to carry out (that was grueling but well worth it) - the jumble of bright orange fern leaves makes an amazing impression. We believe this is neuropteris. Plant Samples 1a to 4c: Sphenophyllum - small leaves are reminiscent of clover - not "fern-like" - very distinctive. Sample 5b is just to show that we did find one that was golden yellow in color. Unidentified Sample 1a and 1b: These look like the tops of grass but too soon geologically for that. Any ideas? Unidentified Sample 2a: Is this the trunk of Sigillaria? Unidentified Sample 3a: What are these lines? Any ideas? We also collected different types of ferns in our samples - white, yellow, orange - very cool which is what St. Clair is known for. Will post some of these in our trip report. We looked in some bark samples for insects - thinking maybe something bored into the bark. No luck there. Surprised that more insects don't come out of the Pennsylvanian sites. Should be some insects mixed with all these ferns or in the trees, don't you think? Also, we were wondering what caused so many plants to survive as fossils so well preserved and intact, all flat, not much decomposition or rotting, etc. Maybe a massive collapse of a cliff or mudslide?
  6. We collected these Neuropteris fern leaves and stems, and Annularia (Calamite tree) leaves at McIntyre Mountain in June 2012. This site is at the very top of the mountain, where the coal pits have been reclaimed and converted to a forested park. The veins of the leaves show up very clearly in the closeup photos.
  7. Some Pennsylvanian Fusulinids

    Here are some of the various genera of fusulinids present in the Midcontinent Pennsylvanian. I must admit I have no idea how to examine these to identify them down to the gereric level. Instead, I 'cheat' by poring through publications and finding certain stratigrapic horizons -- sometimes at specific localities -- that are dominated by one type of fusulinid. After that, all I have to do is show up and collect chunks of limestone or shale. Eowaeringella ultimata Bethany Falls Limestone (Missourian) Clay County, Missouri Loose: In matrix: Beedeina sp. (girtyi?) (edit: Some Fusulina have been reassigned to Beedeina) Higginsville Formation (Marmaton Group, Desmoinesian) Henry County, Missouri Loose: Beedeina sp. Higginsville Formation Bates County, Missouri In matrix: Kansanella tenuis Island Creek Shale (Missourian) Stanley, Kansas Loose: In matrix:
  8. Here are some Pennsylvanian gastropods I found years ago that are mostly free of matrix, which is unusual around these parts: Winterset Limestone Jackson County, Missouri They include Hypselentoma, Knightites, and one other that is too tiny to id. Because they are so pristine, I suspected that they were silicified. A scratch on a glass bottle confirmed it. The next thing that came to mind is that if I could find the limestone bed from which they came, I could extract some more with acid. I had returned to the exposure in the past, but I didn't find any more gastropods. I'll have to find them in the matrix. I plan to swing by the area tomorrow....
  9. Show Us Your Cordaites

    Has anyone here collected these Pennsylvanian plants? If so, show 'em. This gymnosperm tree is classified under a handful of genera: Cordaites - leaves Cordaianthus - seed cone Cardiocarpus - seed Artisia - stem Amyelon - roots I'll start with a few I've posted on the forum already.... Leaf bundle (Cordaites): Leaf (Cordaites): Stump and roots: Roots (Amyelon?): Roots (Amyelon?): All are from the Pennsylvanian Winterset Limestone of the Kansas City area. A reconstruction of the living tree:
  10. First stop at another new location and it shows real promise! I wish I would have had more than half an hour! An assortment of Pennsylvanian fossils from what I believe to be the Winterset oolitic limestone of Kansas City, Missouri, Jackson county. Not 100% certain on ID's except to say I think they are what the pics are named, any input is welcomed and much appreciated! It was the wierdest thing, the horn corals were all in a very localized area of about 10 feet at the bottom of the wall in the debris. None to either side nor up and down the outcropping for 20 yards in any direction and couldn't find any in the wall above me as far as I could see up it! It will never cease to amaze me how I find groupings here and there. What was different about that particular spot that concentrated them there? Anyways, here we are.... Thanks for taking a look!
  11. Just a shot of some lunchtime finds from the Pennsylvanian of Kansas City. I only had about thirty minutes to hunt. Thanks for looking! pic1 (edit) I forgot to mention, there is a 'leverite psuedo' in this batch! Noticed it when I got back to work and emptied out my bag! Also, the jawbone is a small possum I think.
  12. These elegant shells are highly sought after here in Kansas City: Perfect specimens are hard to come by. They tend to be hollow, and often break when extracted from the limestone. This one was lucky: The bottom of the shell is flat: They can reach up to four inches in size. This is my largest: Some specimens retain a color pattern: Another, with slightly better colors: Here, some sponges had bored into the base of the shell: Euconospira isn't the largest gastropod we find around here. That honor goes to Shansiella: This one is even bigger, but it is broken. Hidden from view here, the shell extends all the way to the left edge of the rock: A smaller, but higher quality Shansiella:
  13. Backyard Trip

    My folks have a nice lake behind their house. It is relaxing to spend a warm evening watching a heron spear fish or geese fight each other. Or watch silt slowly fill the lake bed. Across the street, a housing developer stripped off a bunch of soil down to the bedrock, but ran out of money before building on the land. This has resulted in some significant erosion and sedimentation in the lake, but this cloud does have a silver lining. I soon noticed a thick bed of shale exposed on the hill. So it was only a matter of time until I make the short trip to the top. The hill, with exposed shale, can be seen on the right. No, I did not hunt that day. A few weeks ago, I drove up there and poked around the Pennsylvanian strata. The Island Creek Shale is the first bed encountered: There are thin beds of calcareous sandstone within. Oh look, ripple marks: And trace fossils: I've found fusulinids and brachiopods where the shale thins several miles to the south.
  14. Adelophthalmus sp.: Found in 1988. It is basically an external mold in micritic limestone. It consists of the head, six segments, and part of one paddle. The paddle is in positive relief, I believe. It's too bad it wasn't complete; it would have been seven inches in length. The detail is exquisite. Tiny scales and folds are preserved. There are also tiny white tube worms (or ammovertellid forams) that are attached to the carapace. Needless to say, I went back a dozen times, but I found no other traces of eurypterids. Also found at the site are many scaphopods and bellerophontid gastropods, as well as smaller numbers of many other types including other gastropods, pelecypods, nautiloids, rugose coral, bryozoans, brachiopods, ostracods (one is marked with a 'v' on the rock), trilobite fragments, a possible phyllocarid carapace, shark teeth, possible algae, and plant fragments including Cordaites leaves. The fossils are distributed sporadically throughout the otherwise pristine limestone. Here is the scaphopod Paleodentalium, the best one I found by far:
  15. Pennsylvanian Graptolite

    Ok, this one was a surprise. Back in the 90's, I was hammering through limestone looking for productid brachiopods, shark teeth, and whatever, and out popped this: Close up: I had seen pictures of Dictyonema before, but I didn't know they lived into the Pennsylvanian. I then returned to regularly scheduled programming. I haven't seen a graptolite since. (Found in Kansas City, MO)