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Found 8 results

  1. Carboniferous Plant Hunt!

    With the semester having ended yesterday, I figured I would go hunting today at one of my favorite Carboniferous plant localities. It is located in Southwestern PA, and is in the Connellsville Sandstone member of the Casselman Formation, which is in turn part of the Conemaugh Group. It is late Stephanian in age. The Connellsville Sandstone itself represents a fluvial deposit made up of sediment from the then young Appalachian mountains. It is a very thick and massive layer; because of this it has been quarried for building stone for hundreds of years. The locality that I collect at is in a valley that was once heavily industrialized with a railroad, coal mines, oil wells, and sandstone quarries. These quarries were located in the Connellsville and their cliffs can still be seen today. The specific deposit I collect at in this valley most likely represents a slow moving area of the river, where deposition was rapid in times of high water. It preserves a classic post-Rainforest Collapse flora, with seed ferns, tree ferns, and Calamites being the most common fossils. Lepidodendron and other lycopods are rare to nonexistent. In the 1960s, W.C. Darrah, a paleobotanist, collected here and found one of the earliest examples of the conifer Walchia. Vertebrate remains can be found here, as shown in my most recent post. I assumed that today would be a mediocre trip, as rain was in the forecast and the ground is covered in leaves. However, the rain let up before I arrived at the site. Due to the lack of foliage, though, I was able to explore some areas that were once quarried for sandstone. I noticed an area made up of finer-grained sandstone, and thought that it might have fossils. Upon further inspection, though, it lacked fossils but was full of massive rip up clasts of soft shale. These showed that the river was eroding through a deposit of unconsolidated clay and then subsequently depositing these chunks down stream. I had never seen rip-up clasts in such large numbers and in such a large size, so it was great to get to see it. I then carried on to the plant locality. The plant locality was not at all covered in leaves, and due to the weather I had it all to myself. I concentrated my efforts on specific lenses of plant material that represented areas of quiet deposition, perfect for well preserved plants. I found some good stuff, as is shown below, but my favorite find was that of Cyclopteris fimbriata. It is a strange form genus of leaves that grew at the base of seed fern fronds. I had found Cyclopteris fossils before; however, this was the first time I had found one of the fimbriata species. The name says it all: their edges are marked by fimbriated projections of leaf tissue. It was certainly interesting to see some new material today. I also found my largest Neuropteris ovata frond thus far, and, although it wasn't perfect, it was a welcome discovery. All in all, it was a great hunt and it was nice to be out in nature!! Hope you guys all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! View of the old quarry: The rip-up clasts: The plant locality itself, as I said before it is a shaly layer of the Connellsville Sandstone, most probably representing a backwater of a river: Pith cast of a Calamites: Annularia stellata whorls Cordaites sp. A new species for me and the strangest looking find, Cyclopteris fimbriata: My largest find, as well as my largest plant fossil to date: Either Neuropteris or Laeveinopteris:
  2. Hi all, I’m not sure if I’ve posted this find before, but I figured I would anyway because I believe it warrants it’s own thread. I found this find a few years back at one of the localities I most consistently collect at, which is a shaly exposure of the Connelsville Sandstone in western PA. It usually preserves plants quite well, and was described by W.C. Darrah back in the 60s. It has also produced some very early examples of Walchia, an early conifer. However, it is not well known for vertebrate fossils, as sandstones don’t seem to be the preferred type of rock where vertebrates are found in the area. If you’ve seen my other posts you’ve probably realized that most of the time vertebrate fossils are restricted to shales and limestones, often closely related to coals. And in the shales especially, concentrations of material are usually lag deposits and do not represent associated remains. Here I have something different. Its a small jumble of bones, with no diagnostic features whatsoever. However I can rule out actinopterygian material because it lacks the thick shiny scales so characteristic of this group. I’m almost certain it’s not tetrapod material as (1) they are incredibly rare and (2) the ribs seem to be too thin. I’m also fairly confident that it represents a single individual as the bones are locally concentrated and I’ve never seen them before from this locality. I’ve found bones like these before in other more characteristic deposits, although they are never articulated. I’m relatively sure that they come from some sort of sarcopterygian, possibly a dipnoan or coelacanth. I would be very happy if anyone could shed some light on the general grouping of this fossil. If not, then just appreciate it as a random jumble of bones from a not very often seen locality. As always, stratigraphy: Connelsville sandstone Casselman Formation Conemaugh Group And age: Late Pennsylvanian (Stephanian/Missourian ~302 MYA)
  3. Hi all, Recently I was collecting at a locality that exposes the Duquesne Limestone and shale, which if you’ve seen any of my previous posts you’ll know that I’ve collected extensively. But for those of you that have not, the Duquesne shale is a layer of black, carbonaceous shale found in areas where the Conemaugh group is exposed. This layer is chalk full of disarticulated vertebrate remains, but some of the most recognizable are the teeth of Orthacanthus and Xenacanthus. These were eel-like sharks that existed from the Devonian-Triassic and had bicuspid or tricuspid teeth. They grew to be about 10-12 feet at the largest and thrived in the swampy lakes of the late Pennsylvanian. It’s somewhat uncommon for me to find a large Orthacanthus tooth (which are tiny compared to Otodus sp. )and it is even rarer for me to find a tooth with feeding damage. It seems to me that, understandably, many collectors of Cenozoic shark teeth are disappointed when they find shark teeth with feeding damage, but for me at least when I find Paleozoic shark teeth with feeding damage it makes it even more special. Last time I was collecting I did just that. Interestingly enough this Orthacanthus compressus tooth is my largest yet and has a very unusual break. The cusp that is missing is not broken cleanly at the enamel, rather, when it broke off it took a good chunk of the rooth with it. To me at least this would indicate that the shark was using quite a bit of force when it bit down, and whatever it bit in to must have been very hard and made for a painful meal for the shark. It’s important to note that the other cusp was damaged recently and isn’t feeding damage. I’m not one to heavily speculate but I’d imagine that it had to have bit in to one of the heavily armored Paleoniscoids for damage of this nature to take place. Or, who knows, the tooth might have just been old. Whatever happened to break the cusp is lost to time, I guess. Regardless, I think it’s a wonderful find and reminds me that these animals were truly alive and had imperfections. Hopefully you all find this as interesting as I do .
  4. Late Pennsylvanian Seed Fern

    Hi all, Here’s an interesting plant find. I discovered it in a locality in Western PA known for producing good plant fossils. I’m thinking seed fern, maybe related to Alethopteris somehow but to be honest I’m not sure what the species is. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance Stratigraphy: Connelsville Sandstone of the Casselman Formation of the Conemaugh Group. Age-Late Pennsylvanian, ~305 MYA
  5. Conditions in Western PA have been unusually warm recently, with highs in the 40s and 50s. I decided to take advantage of this warm spell by getting a little bit of fossil hunting in. I decided to do a hunt focused on plants as I’ve been hunting for vertebrates for the better part of the last year and a half and, although I could never get tired of vertebrates I thought some variety was well overdue. So I headed to one of my favorite plant localities in the area. It is located in the Connellsville Sandstone of the Casselman Formation, which is in turn the upper half of the Conemaugh Group. The sandstone is around 305 million years old. The Casselman Formation holds the record of the tail end of one of the largest plant extinctions in our earths history. The prolonged wetness that had existed for much of the Pennsylvanian gave way to dryer conditions, and, as a result, the lycopsid forests fragmented. Many of these lycopsids went extinct during this event, which is known as the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse. Conifers took advantage of these newly opened ecological niches. Their fossils have been found in this area, although I have never personally found them. Anyway, on to the fossils. Today I mostly found partial Pecopteris fronds, Neuropteris pinnules and Annularia leaflets. I’m going to include some of my better finds from other trips as well, as this trip was rather unproductive. Pictured below is the best Annularia I found today. Or Asterophyllites. I’m not sure. We’ll just go with Calamites leaves for now.
  6. Possible Paleoniscoid Skull Roof

    Hi all, This specimen was found in a black shale layer that lays directly and uncomfortably upon the Duquesne Limestone, which is Late Pennsylvanian age. It was found in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Both the shale and limestone are filled with vertebrate fossils, especially the scales, teeth and spines of paleoniscoid fish. As far as I know there is no species list from the shale but Elonichthys has been reported. I know skull roofs can be very diagnostic so any rough estimates of genus would be very helpful! I apologize for the picture quality, my phone is a brick.
  7. Casselman Formation

    This boundary shows where you can find Ames Limestone. Before, all I had was a 1980 map. Now I've taken their digital data, converted this formation into KML, and created a custom Google map. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1I3uxksnlKUHcGqqAE9fbIUPIkMzWk6cq&usp=sharing I can do others, but for now, this one was the one I wanted the most.
  8. Fedexia Striegeli

    Obviously, the tetrapod is from the Carboniferous Missippian...out by the old airport...does anyone know where that Casselman formation/Conemaugh Group is? Even though the Fedexia was found in 2004, it would be nice to resume some work and see what else is there...any ideas, any interest?
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