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Found 32 results

  1. WHAT WE LEARNED IN OUR FIRST FOSSIL HUNTING SUMMER This is a short recap of what we learned on our fossil trips this summer, in our first 3 months as very new fossil collectors. This week, Nancy and I gave a slide presentation on our summer fossil hunting experiences, to the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society. We didn't realize it ourselves but in 3 months we visited 8 sites in Pennsylvania and New York including: Antes Creek, Deer Lake, Red Hill, Juniata County, McIntyre Mountain, Montour and St. Clair in Pennsylvania, and a very productive trip to Tully, NY. We visited St. Clair 4 times, which has become our home site. At St. Clair, we were astonished by the diversity of species - we collected well articulated samples of more than a dozen species including: Alethopteris, Annularia, Asterophyllites, Cordaites, Cyclopteris, Eusphenopteris, Lepidophylloides, Neuropteris, Odontopteris, Pecopteris, Sphenophyllum, Sphenopteris, and numerous Seeds, Bark, Roots. Most notably - I learned to pronounce all of these without stuttering! At St. Clair, we spent one trip looking exclusively for seeds trigonocarpus), and one trip looking just for roots (stigmaria). Our most significant finds have included very large (2 foot long) display pieces covered with well articulated orange ferns, an alethopteris seed attached to a leaf stem, and many Carboniferous leaves that have different shapes from traditional ferns. What we learned this summer has really helped us find some interesting fossils - here are a few things we did that helped a lot: 1. DOING OUR HOMEWORK. It helped to study each site in advance using Internet websites and books on fossils (Dave's "Views of the Mahantango" and "Louisville Fossils" are among the best, imho). Several universities also have great educational sites that bring each era to life in very creative and interesting ways, with lots of illustrations and photos. I like the UC-Berkeleyand University of West Virginia websites. 2. LEARNING FROM TRIP REPORTS. We read trip reports from other groups and individuals to see what they reported - sometimes this helps us stumble across new places to visit such as the site at Tully, NY and Deer Lake. 3. SETTING GOALS AND TARGETS FOR EACH TRIP. For each trip, we establish specific goals - for example we may look for seeds, or roots at St. Clair, or trilobites or shell assemblages at a Devonian site. Our interest right now is in looking for things that are scarce or rare, and fossils that are extremely well articulated (which is also rare!). We also like solving puzzles so eventually we would like to find things that help add to the fossil record in areas where there are still questions or missing links. 4. DISPLAYING WHAT WE FIND. Personally, Nancy and I like collecting larger fossils that we can display in mounts and frames, and we are also looking for larger pieces that we can display like sculptures - we have a few pieces that we drilled holes in, inserted wooden dowels that we stained, and then drilled/inserted the dowels in wooden trophy bases - all available from a craft store. This allows us to display thicker fossils esp. assemblages, like sculptures, and you can turn them around and look at all sides when they are mounted like this. 5. WE AVOID FOSSIL HORDING. We both agreed that we would NOT become "fossil horders" putting hundreds of rocks in boxes and sticking them away in the basement or garage - instead, we focus on finding display-quality items, and rare or scarce finds which we are slowly putting in frames. 6. DOCUMENTING OUR FINDS WITH CLOSEUP PHOTOS. We photograph everything we find as soon as possible after returning from a trip, using a digital camera with a closeup attachment - many times we find new discoveries while taking closeup photos and some of our best finds came AFTER we returned from the trip and inspected our fossils. I usually put the finds on a white background on an ironing board and use window light, nothing fancy, but it works. 7. FOSSIL ID. We post anything we can't identify on the Fossil Forum and are EXTREMELY grateful for the terrific response from our friends on the site! We are also accumulating a growing library of fossil books (some modern, some from the 19th and early 20th century) so we can identify more fossils ourselves without having to post on Fossil ID. 8. WRITING ABOUT OUR EXPERIENCES GIVES US NEW INSIGHTS. We report everything that interests and excites us about fossil hunting on Fossil Forum to share our experiences - and we find that writing about what we're doing helps us learn more and gain insights, just from writing about it. We have also started videotaping some of our adventures and are thinking about the best place to post some of these. 9. WINTER PLANS: COPING WITH CABIN FEVER. Our winter plans are to visit one or two more sites, then go into "fossil hibernation" and organize, identify and label fossils we haven't processed yet. We have a Dremel to do some light preservation work where needed. We are not planning to become "chemical conservators" - using chemicals to dissolve limestone and so forth - that's a bit too ambitious for us at this point. We may get involved in some interesting activities by local universities that are using 3D printing to process and replicate large dinosaur bones. We are also planning to provide an exhibit (on Carboniferous plants and trees/coal swamps) at a fossil fair in April. 10. RECOMMENDED READING: I enjoy reading fossil books - I'm currently reading with great interest a small book entitled "Leaves and Stems from Fossil Forests" by Raymond E. Janssen (1939) which I bought last night at the DVPS meeting, and a textbook entitled Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record by Benton and Harper (2008) (excellent book). The book that has been the most useful to me so far is the classic book "Fossil Collecting in Pennsylvania" by Hoskins et. al. (3rd ed. 1983). I am constantly re-reading the Hoskins book and find something new each time as my knowledge grows. A book that impressed Nancy and me is a large beautifully illustrated book entitled "Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth" (published by Dorling Kindersley, 2012) UPDATE (Oct 11): Nancy is taking some college courses which are prerequisites to enter grad school, so I am doing most of the fossil reading and ID. I read several books at the same time and other books I purchased that I am currently reading are: Paleobotany: The Biology and Evolution of Fossil Plants (second edition) by Thomas Taylor; and Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record by Benton and Harper. I guess you can tell from this that I'm reading up on fossil plants - my main interest is not just to understand the evolution and fossil record, identification tips, etc. - but also to try to figure out where the missing links and gaps are so if we come across something that adds to the fossil record, we will be able to recognize the value. What is most surprising is that there is a lot missing from the Carboniferous record - partly because after this period, many of the oceans and swamps apparently dried up and there were ice ages and other factors that caused mass extinctions. Here are some interesting things I have learned this summer about Fossil Plants and Trees: 1. More Carboniferous insect fossils and evidence of insects are needed (by the way, there are some GREAT current discussions about insects on this forum!). 2. Many categories of lycopsids and other Carboniferous trees and plants do not have verified associations between the leaves and seeds, or leaves and trunks/stems. Many trigonocarpus (fossilized seeds and "fruits") are found with leaves, but examples of seeds actually ATTACHED to leaf sprigs are rare (we have found one example of a seed attached to Alethopteris). 3. More Leaf and Bark Verifications are Needed. Another interesting thing I learned is that there are more than 30 different types of "scale tree" patterns but only half a dozen leaves for these trees - suggesting that a lot of different species had the same leaves - or - there are a lot of missing leaf types or the existing leaf types have not been matched to the bark patterns yet. 4. Another peculiar revelation is that most Carboniferous leaves that do not fall neatly into classic fern shapes seem to be lumped together as "sphenopteris" - we have many "non-traditional fern" leaf fossils that are VERY different from each other and obviously different species, but when we go online to ID them, they all seem to be grouped as "sphenopteris!" Maybe some of these leaf types match up with the bark patterns I mentioned. 5. Last but certainly not least is the insight that fern trees could have 2 or 3 different types of leaves on the same tree! This was really interesting. Also, some leaf types can come in different shapes - for example, Neuropteris can be round at the base of a stem and elongated along the stem and at the tip...AND...some paleobotanists now classify cyclopteris - the round fan shaped leaf - as a form of Neuropteris. This definitely adds to the confusion. I'm still reading and trying to understand all of this and these are only my initial impressions, which are still forming and there may be explanations for some of these questions that I haven't discovered yet but these are the questions that I am trying to answer by reading, and of course, by fossil collecting. I hope that many of our new friend (and I should add, VERY COOL new friends!) on the fossil forum will help clarify some of these interesting questions. Hope this is helpful.
  2. Hi, a friend of mine found this fossil. can anyone suggest a resource where they can find out what it is please.
  3. I received this relatively large fossil about 4 years ago as a Christmas present from a friend. All the information I have about this specimen is that "it comes from the Carboniferous", it was bought from a peddler at the local Christmas market without asking for the provenance. Now I am trying to definitively identify it. I compared it to all my fossil ferns and to many pics online, and some photos of Pecopteris polymorpha are particularly similar in shape. ^This is one of the images I found online. There is a surprising similarity even with the surrounding matrix, could my fossil come from the same formation? My specimen measures about 180 x 140 mm.
  4. Can someone help me with an ID for this? Thank you!
  5. Fossil seed ferns (Alethopteris sp.). 300 m.y.o. St. Clair, PA. 185mm. One of the coolest fossil hunting experiences I’ve had. The amount of detail preserved in these fossils is incredible—some appear as if the leaves had just fallen! Exploring this area was like being transported back in time. Looking at a fossil like the one pictured here, it is not difficult to imagine the ancient carboniferous swamp coming back to life. For me, fossils are all about stress relief; a sobering—yet comforting—reminder of how briefly we are here, and where our priorities should lie. When I feel overwhelmed, it is relieving to recall how petty our day-to-day struggles are in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on. -Zach
  6. This is my first post since I introduced myself a week or so ago. All of this (the forum as well as the fossils) are extremely new to me. So, I hope I'm doing everything alright. I've tried to read up a bit before posting. I'm honestly wanting to know if what I've stumbled on is a place as special as it seems to me. I guess, that's what matters anyhow. Nonetheless, I wanted to show you a few pictures of the types of things I find. None of these have to be looked for. They are in a creek that is sometimes full and running with water, and sometimes dry as a bone. But these are everywhere. Actually, the form the bed of the creek even. The "chunks" I pick up feel like clay and can be split when they are still somewhat wet. If they dry, they get brittle. If I soak them in water to wet them again, the completely fall apart. The only way I know to open them to find the little treasures inside is within 15-30 minutes after I get a bag full and get back home. Any info on them is great. I want to share and hopefully learn. Thanks, Frank
  7. I found this piece last Saturday and it's quite strange. I've never seen a fossil like this. This may sound like a dumb theory, but could this be white rot fungi just starting to form? 99% of the holes are on the woody areas of the fern. The axis is fully covered with holes. I figure if it was normal weathering of the rock/fossil the holes would be everywhere, or at least on the leaves more. Has anyone seen this before? This is from the late carboniferous period. Mazon Creek, Francis Creek shale.
  8. From the album Scottish Lower Carboniferous (Visean) plants

    Sphenopteris biffida. Burdiehouse Limestone, Visean Central Belt of Scotland 333.5 myo
  9. From the album Scottish Lower Carboniferous (Visean) plants

    Unidentified fern Burdiehouse Limestone, Visean Central Belt of Scotland 333.5 myo
  10. From the album Scottish Lower Carboniferous (Visean) plants

    Sphenopteris affinis. Burdiehouse Limestone, Visean Central Belt of Scotland 333.5 myo
  11. An acquaintance found this on a ranch outside of Roscoe, TX. I presume it's some sort of fern. Any chance we could narrow it down further? It's a lovely specimen with a special remembrance for the collector. Appreciate any help you can offer.
  12. Fossil seed ferns (Alethopteris sp.). 300 m.y.o. St. Clair, PA. 185mm. One of the coolest fossil hunting experiences I’ve had. The amount of detail preserved in these fossils is incredible—some appear as if the leaves had just fallen! Exploring this area was like being transported back in time. Looking at a fossil like the one pictured here, it is not difficult to imagine the ancient carboniferous swamp coming back to life. For me, fossils are all about stress relief; a sobering—yet comforting—reminder of how briefly we are here, and where our priorities should lie. When I feel overwhelmed, it is relieving to recall how petty our day-to-day struggles are in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on. -Zach
  13. Fossil seed ferns (Alethopteris sp.). 300 m.y.o. St. Clair, PA. 185mm. One of the coolest fossil hunting experiences I’ve had. The amount of detail preserved in these fossils is incredible—some appear as if the leaves had just fallen! Exploring this area was like being transported back in time. Looking at a fossil like the one pictured here, it is not difficult to imagine the ancient carboniferous swamp coming back to life. For me, fossils are all about stress relief; a sobering—yet comforting—reminder of how briefly we are here, and where our priorities should lie. When I feel overwhelmed, it is relieving to recall how petty our day-to-day struggles are in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on. In order to illustrate the detail of these ferns, I found it was critical to get the lighting right. I experimented with many different positions/intensities of flash in order to get the desired effect. If light is coming from directly above, it can easily "flatten" out the fine texture of the piece, and I discovered that angling the flashes to the sides of the piece worked much better. -Zach
  14. Im looking to restore a few of my very delicate Mazon Creek fossils and im looking for something that can be sculpted but will harden over time without baking. I'm trying to fill small cracks, tiny voids and sculpt very detailed missing parts. I'll post some pics a bit later of what pieces im talking about, so you can get some insight of what im trying to do. Thanks, Charlie
  15. Hello! I recently received a shipment of fossil ferns from St Clair PA. I have never dealt with these before and they seem fairly fragile and they came fairly raw, with some dirt on them and leaving a grey residue/dust behind everywhere they go. Whats the best way to clean these without damaging them and should I coat them with something to protect them? And if so, then what? They range in thickness from a quarter inch to an inch. These are from the Llewellyn Formation, Pennsylvanian Period. Some of the pieces have what appears to be some pyrite or graphite, a shiny silver metallic look. I included a picture of the items as reference:
  16. Friends: Can anyone help me identify what kind of fern this is? It's 4"long, by approximately 3" wide. I apologoize for the photo quality; the pic was taken from my cell phone as my camera was destroyed when once I was inadvertently caught in a terrible sandstorm. Thank you, Roadcut Hannah
  17. Parry's Lip Fern (Cheilanthes parryi) growing beside fossilized coral in Clark County, NV. This was one of my favorite photo-ops and one of the few cases where I had a specific subject in mind before actually finding it. I had seen lots of ferns and plenty of fossils at this spot, but I really wanted to show the juxtaposition of their patterns together—one living, the other as ancient remains. After a few visits, I finally found what I was looking for! -Zach
  18. This is a specimen of a type of "wood" that has been replaced by iron bearing waters, it is presumed. This looks alot like stigmaria, but it absolutely came from a late Cretaceous formation. If stigmaria, perhaps it was anciently reworked into the Cretaceous sediments? This unidentified specimen is astonishingly preserved! It almost looks as though it will start moving in your hand!!! The whole internal parts can be visually made out....even structures that appear to be veins! Strange....all i can figure is this specimen must be the product of a very violent environment, perhaps a hurricane of something...because it was torn from what it was attached to,in the process, one side of its "bark" was torn away also....revealing it's complex internal composition. Then, it seems, before decomposition could even begin...... !!!!! ...... it was deposited in the sediments that became its home. If that doesn't explain the remarkable preservation, then i am baffled as to what happened. Still, this paleobotanic needs a name. Any ideas?
  19. So I'm back again with more plant fossil questions, but this time I am hopefully a little less clueless. I got Jack Wittry's guide to Mazon Creek Flora and have been trying to learn as much as possible. I am interested in comparing what I have found so far to an earlier study by Roger Boneham (http://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/ias/article/download/8143/8102) on the Pennsylvanian fossil flora and fauna of the Chieftain Mine site (now Fowler Park, Vigo County, IN) but I am running in to some nomenclature issues that make it difficult to decipher which fossils were found in the study. I am also having trouble differentiating some fern species with very similar venation (at least to my untrained eye). Jack was kind enough to clear up some of my questions about general identification and taxonomy in a previous post and he stated that based on what venation he could see and the form of the pinnules, the fern in question appeared to be Acitheca (Polymorphopteris) polymorpha. I have spent a good few hours since then going over numerous ferns with a magnifying glass and a bright light and have been able to see the veins on many of the specimens relatively clearly. Since I think my photographs obscure the venation even further, I have posted photos and sketches based on what I can see below: - 4.5 X 2.25cm (the nodule) Sketch - - 6 X 4.5cm (nodule) - 5.5 X 3.25cm - Sketch showing more clearly the transition in shape of the pinnules closer to the base - 8 X 4cm I have also found a negative of what appears to be the same type of fern that is ~11cm long and similar in form to the first picture. So I guess my question is, are all of these Polymorphopteris, are they something different, or are they a mix of species? So far, all of the ferns I have found with visible venation (~20) appear to be the same thing to me (similar venation, size, and form) so I suspect this has to be one of, if not, the most common species at this site. Boneham notes Asterotheca miltoni as "one of the most common species" and I suspect this is what I am finding. The only problem, is that it seems this species has been sunk (or at least reassigned) and in his book, Jack notes that both Polymorphopteris and Lobatopteris have been previously called Asterotheca/Pecopteris miltoni. For those interested, so far Cyperites preservations are the second most abundant fossil I've found with Macroneuropteris and Annularia stellata following next in line respectively. I apologize if I have asked too many questions at once or if my ignorance is showing in any all too obvious ways haha...I am still learning and it is a steep learning curve! I really appreciate all of the help you all have given me so far and I look forward to hearing your comments. -Andrew
  20. St. Clair Trip Nan and I took a trip to Deer Lake and we managed to squeeze in a couple of hours at the end of the day to visit the St. Clair fern site - which we consider to be our "home site." We always see animals there - a bear and cub were there last year, an 8 foot long black snake (it was really that long!) and this time we saw a dozen male and female turkeys. The site has been pretty well picked over by a season of fossil hunting so there aren't as many good finds lying scattered around on the ground but we don't normally scavenge these shards anyway - we either excavate the open pits left by previous fossil hunters, or we find promising looking pieces that have been discarded and crack them open with chisels. We also have gained a good sense of what kinds of fossils are located in various places on the site and we visualize in our mind's eye what this Carboniferous site must have looked like, 308 million years ago. This is Nan showing the width of a giant Calamites tree trunk that has been eroding slowly out of the ground substrate. The tree was squashed flat and people walking over it have begun to destroy and flake off what was previously a perfect large tree trunk embedded in the ground. I always say that cracking open fossil rocks is like opening a box of crackerjack. Here's a great example of a crackerjack fossil: Opening a Crackerjack Fossil This fossil looked very ordinary and not at all promising. However, it was thick and easy to crack open so I gave it a whack with my hammer and chisel. The results unfolded exactly as you see here - revealing a nice section of Cordaites (a very large leaf with close-together grooves, that looked like a corn leaf) and other fern leaves. We looked for a display piece for a colleague and Nan found this nice specimen: This will look nice in our friend's office, placed on a tilted rack we bought from Michael's craft store: We also found this sphenophyllum (a small plant that grew like a vine in the coal swamps):
  21. From the album Fowler Park - Vigo County, IN

    Form Genus - Pecopteris Shelburn Formation - Middle Pennsylvanian Chieftain Mine (Fowler Park) - Vigo County, IN Length: 54mm

    © Andrew Hoffman

  22. From the album Dinosaur_Park Laurel MD

    Fossilized (carbon) fern that has metamorphed into coal.
  23. From the album Dinosaur_Park Laurel MD

    This is actually a piece of iron that cast itself over a fern twig.
  24. From the album Dinosaur_Park Laurel MD

    Fossilized fern embedded in outcrop.
  25. http://img824.imageshack.us/img824/200/dscn5356n.jpg Hi friends. I have a problem with this fern. Do you know what species is it? Regards Juan