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Found 14 results

  1. Hi All, This marks the final chapter of this years exploration of the Permian Fort Apache Limestone micro fauna found east of Payson, Arizona. This entailed sorting throgh thousands and thousands of tiny gastropods under the microscope, and catagorizing them into 22 types. We then set out to identify as many as possible. Here is a part of the photo tour, the rest can be found on our website! Gastropods / Monoplacophorans from the Permian Fort Apache Limestone East of Payson By far, the largest project in the Fort Apache Limestone series! We found more tiny gastropods than any other type of fossils in the acid fines. Literally thousands and thousands of pinhead sized gastropods and monoplacophorans were found, and after months of picking through the residues, we had several teaspoons of the microscopic fossils. The sorting process took weeks and we decided to sort them according to morphological type. This yielded 22 different varieties, some of which may have been duplicates that were preserved different or incompletely. Fortunately for us, Winters in his huge GSA 89 monograph identified scores of gastropods making many of the identifications possible for us. We also found several types which he did not show or mention. The conclusions that can be drawn from our gastropods is still clear - a very muddy bottom which preserved huge numbers of juveniles either because of inclement conditions for their survival or a high mortality rate. The preservation ranges from very poor to superb. Many of the smallest fossils show amazing details in their outer shells and large numbers of ornamented types were uncovered. The most common type was the small squat cones, ten times more common than any other type. They were also the very smallest to be found as well. Bellerophon sp. - Monoplacophoran There is considerable controversy as to where Bellerophon resides in the mollusk group. Latest papers seem to indicate that it is about half way from the limpet shaped basal primitive monoplacophorans and the accepted standard gastropod. No one has ever found fossils of their soft anatomy, and until this occurs, they will remain an enigma. Ribbed Cones (Paleostylus giganticus) Honey Buns (Apachella prodontia) 10x view of a nice collection of bun shaped gastropods with a unique proto conch region. Ornamented Rimmed Buns (Worthenia arizonensis) Fantastic ornamentation on these! Ribbed Bellerophon shaped Gastropods (Knighties modestus) These look very much like a Bellerophon but they do not have the same fine features defining that group. They are much smaller too, pin head sized. than Many Many more can be seen on our web site, Thanks for looking! our web site page: http://www.schursastrophotography.com/paleo/Fortapache-15.html
  2. HI all, A new Sunday upload for you, we just finished our evaluation on two more types of fossils we have found hidden in the limestones of the Fort Apache formation. Now crinoid material and corals are very rare in this deposit - the blowing sands and silt from the nearby Schnebly Hill formation sand dune complex made life nearly impossible for any filter feeding organisms, and the constant rain of mud from above would clog their filter feeding apparatus. So its not surprising that crinoids and corals are almost never found in the acid fines we obtained from just over 240 pounds in limestones. In fact, only a few dozen echinoderm ossicles from a variety of unknown types which might include crinoids, cystoids or blastoids were found at all. No calyx or plates were found. As far as corals, ONE rugose coral was found, and its a tiny one at that! That at least was identifiable from Winters Memoir 89 as it was the same coral. So lets start with the crinoid stem pictorial: Sections of stems from stalked echinoderms are rare in the Fort Apache Limestone at all three of our sites east of Payson. This could include Crinoids, blastoids, and cystoids. There is really no way to identify the exact genus and species from scattered stem ossicles, so here I present to you anything that even remotely resembles a stem piece. The most common shapes are the small ovals with a round central axial hole, followed by more conventional round crinoid stem ossicles which are the larger sizes here. The extreme mud present on the bottom and raining down on the benthic community most likely prevented a large population of filter feeding crinoids from taking hold in this formation. This represents a low power view of nearly every recognizable stem fragment we ever found in over 200 pounds of limestone. Some are round, some are star shaped. Many are ovals. A few ring shaped pieces are questionably stems, however they are included here for completeness. 7x A three stack of crinoid ossicles, we can almost can call this one a stem! Very strange piece, a crinoid stem ossicle covered with an encrusting bryozoan. Few hard grounds existed in the Fort Apache, and we find quite a few shells, urchin parts and gastropods covered with such an encrustation. Next we show off our rarest fossil found in the entire formation, the rugose coral. Ten times rarer than trilobites, rugose corals are a very small part of the Fort Apache Sea benthic community. We only found one specimen in over 230 pounds of limestones that went into the acid bath. And its a small one - not even 1 centimeter in length. But its cnidarian features are unmistakable. Winters in his monumental monograph on the Fort Apache Fossils (GSA Memoir 89) found a very similar coral, in fact it appears to be identical to his photos - Lophamplexus sp. In addition to this rare coral find, just inside the calice was a coiled microconchid tube, which cemented itself to the coral after it had expired and was an empty husk lying on the sea bottom. Why corals are so rare goes along with the missing crinoids, blastoids, sponges and brachs. The bottom of the Fort Apache Sea was filled with gooey muck from settled silt and sand from the nearby Schnebly Aeolian dune field. With a constant rain of such fine material, the filter feeding mechanisms of such animals would not function properly and get clogged. So only silt tolerant organisms are found here. All images with an AmScope Trinocular microscope, 10mp camera and stacked with focus stacking software - Picolay. (free!) Lophamplexus sp. - 7x. Side view showing detail in the crenelations and bands on the exterior. Lophamplexus sp. with the microconchid tube on the left edge inside. 7x. You can see the septa defining the corals calice as ridges on the inside wall. Lophamplexus sp. This Close up at 20x shows the interior is filled with essentially sand that has been cemented together along with the coiled microconchid with its open tube on the lower left inside. The tube worm lived by cementing itself to a flat hard surface for an anchor. We have found plenty of them attached to urchin spines, shells and bryozoans. (Think similar to modern feather duster marine worms). Well thats it this week, hope you enjoyed my presentation as much as we did writing it.
  3. Hi all, Back in 2005 we first found these fossils, very small and few of them. After 12 years, we finally nailed down exactly what they were. The answer was completely unexpected. Read on gentle reader. For over a decade, this particular fossil gave us a lot of trouble when trying to identify its affiliation. We had listed it as "problematica" and until more fossils could be obtained, even its phylum was in doubt. Recent collection of large amounts of material from the Fort Apache Limestone at the Highway 260 site has enabled us to nail down this obscure fossil. At first, we had considered Tentaculitids or Cornulititids however the morphology wasn't quite right, and the fact that they were extinct in the late lower Permian made this untenable. I still felt strongly that this still was some type of bizarre scaphopod, so I contacted a well known Scaphopod expert at the Museum of Natural History in Rotterdam in the Netherlands for help. Jordy van der Beek (jordyvanderbeek.com) was glad to help us and so we sent him more information and lots of photos of what we had. A few days later, he responded and knew exactly what we had found. These were the juvenile portion of a growing scaphopod known as a "Teleoconch". They are seldom fossilized, however the unusual conditions in the Fort Apache Sea greatly favors the preservation of very tiny and juvenile mollusks. Here was something new and quite unexpected! Now lets explain what a teleoconch is, and discuss its features. So exactly what is a "Teleoconch"? Scaphopods have three growth phases out of the egg. First, a protoconch is a tiny ovoid shaped microscopic animal which swims in the plankton and feeds on even smaller micro plankton. Then it settles down to the bottom and starts to grow its cone shape. This phase, called the "teleoconch" is curved, has slightly angled transverse ribbing and is very small indeed - usually less than half an inch. Finally, the little scaphopods "program" changes and it switches to the adult phase. The transverse ribs stop forming and are replaced with the smooth or linearly ribbed adult exterior pattern. At some point, the teleoconch breaks off and leaves the small end open to allow the current to flow through the mollusk for its final configuration. And you can find the the juveniles and discarded teleoconchs preserved in the sediments as these small curved cone shaped fossils. Explanation Diagrams and photos Adult scaphopod at left here, at the top of the curving shell is the transversely ribbed teleoconch region, which in most cases is lost when the adults are full size. Not all scaphopods have such a distinct teleoconch, some are smooth. Plagioglypta had the ribbing. Protoconchs on right and several phases of teleoconch seen here as it changes to the adult phase on the left. (Steiner) SEM images of several teleoconchs of scaphopods. Clearly, there is a rapid growth phase after the protoconch settles down followed by the generation of transverse ribbing. (Steiner) SEM images of extant scaphopods in their teleoconch phase. In reality, these conchs are nearly as transparent as glass. (see below image) An extant juvenile scaphopod living in the sea today, this teleoconch is transparent and the internal animal can be seen clearly. Note the transverse ribs on the exterior. Our recent Finds Our techniques for collection of fossil material is to first, collect limestones that show a visible traces of internal silicified fossils on their surfaces starting to dissolve out. Those will always contain more within, and these are collected and packed out on our backs for several miles back to the Jeep. Back in our paleo lab, we dissolve the limestone in large plastic tubs with a dilution of 10% muriatic acid obtained at ACE hardware store in town. The next day, the acid fines are washed and sorted with three or four different size sieves and dried in flat Teflon coated metal pans in the sun. Sorting is done one teaspoon at a time of the fines, under a stereo microscope. Specimens are picked out with needle fine tweezers, or wet toothpicks. The s found are always less than half an inch in size, and most are broken fragments of the tubes which contained the animal. However, a good number of them were found complete and are stunning to see with a good LED high intensity side light under the scope. They are hollow, thin walled and are preserved as complete casts of the original conch in a white amorphous silica. Their exterior is covered with numerous transverse rings at a slight angle to the conch, all touching with no space in between, however one did show the transition to the adult smooth configuration. Juvenile Scaphopod Morphology Here is one specimen which shows the transverse rings on the left side in the teleoconch changing to the more smooth exterior shell of the adult phase on the right. The Images Photos of our specimens were taken with an AmScope trinocular zoom microscope and an AmScope 10 megapixel color CMOS camera. A dozen or more images of each specimen were obtained with varied focus, and the image sets were focus stacked with Picolay for the final sharp image. Final touch up and the scale addition were done in Adobe Photoshop. The magnification is listed on each image next to the scale. A gaggle of a few of the more complete specimens. Most are less than 1 cm long, and represent juveniles or early adults. 7x 20x close up of one of the more complete specimens. Some of the smallest ribs are worn off on the left, but they continue in force on the right. Note how the conch is curved and the transverse ribs are skewed. 45x close up of the transverse rings morphology in the above specimen. End on view at 45x shows the wall thickness of an average sized specimen. It is filled with sand and has no internal partitions. Compare a pin head above to the average size we found at both sites. Thats this weekend report of our latest finds from the Fort Apache Limestone from the site 20 miles east of Payson in Arizona. It has been a long journey, but what a fantastic one!
  4. Hello all, Another small project completed for our seemingly never ending study of the Lower Permian Fort Apache Limestone east of Payson Arizona. This week, we have put together all the images and data from the hordes of productids (with spines) and one teensy brach found in the acid fines. Brachiopods are a minor faunal element in the Fort Apache Limestones, nearly 100% were found as Productids and their hordes of tiny spines. Only ONE other brach was found, and it was microscopic in size at a size of 1 mm. No doubt the large amount of mud and silt raining down on the bottom of the Fort Apache Sea made life very difficult for any type of filter feeders. Largely missing as well are corals, crinoids and sponges which also feed by filtering the muddy waters. Only the Productids seemed to be adapted to such conditions. Both silicified and calcified fossils were found. Some of the silicified fossils were very delicate and had many of the spines still attached when dissolved out of the limestones with muriatic acid. Winters in his monumental GSA memoir 89 identifies the productids as Bellaclathrus spinosus, and the tiny brach as Pseudodielasma sp. Since this is a very generic looking brachiopod, well go with his identification. Pseudodielasma sp. top view, pedical valve. This brach is the size of a pinhead and is the only one found after processing over 200 pounds in limestones! 45x Pseudodielasma sp. bottom view, brachial valve. Here you can see the opening at the top for the pedicle to emerge for external support on a hard substrate. 45x Bellaclathrus spinosus, only about an inch across it is far smaller than the average size of the productids found in the overlying Permian Kaibab formation. This one is calcified on the surface of the limestone found by cracking open large rocks. 2x Bellaclathrus spinosus - very flat upper valve that is calcified. 3x Bellaclathrus spinosus - Silicified specimens show much external detail. But they are hollow and very delicate! Notice the spine coming off the wings. 2x Bellaclathrus spinosus - We found hordes of loose productid spines in the limestones. 7x Bellaclathrus spinosus - Close up at 20x of some of the spines. Most are hollow tubes, and never come to a point. In life they are filled with live tissue and the spines grow by adding on to the ends. Bellaclathrus spinosus - Two spines on a common base which was once the outermost layers in the productid shell. 20x. Well, thats it for this week. Hope you enjoyed our little presentation!
  5. HI all, Found this one this week, a 5mm juvenile Aviculopecten. Until this, we had not seen in 25 years of searching Permian marine (or Cretaceous Dakota Marine) such a small specimen. The smallest we ever found was a quarter to 50 cent sized. Isnt it cute?
  6. HI all, Our latest finds from the acid fines from our new site on the Mogollon Rim - Scaphopods (Tusk Shells) from the Permian Fort Apache Limestone East of Payson. A minor but very important faunal element in the upper early Permian Fort Apache Limestone are Scaphopods - Or more commonly known today as "Tusk Shells". These mollusks were conical tubes - some linearly ribbed some smooth, with both ends open for water current movement. Fortunately for us, In 1963 White, in his monumental GSA Memoir 89 had found the smooth scaphopods, and identified them as Plagioglypta. We also found a smaller number of ribbed scaphopods which were a different genus. The most complete scaphopod material never had transverse ribs, even in their juvenile sections. About Preservation A wide range of sizes of scaphopods were found, ranging from millimeter sized diameters to nearly a centimeter. The larger conchs were usually flattened and many cracked under the pressure of the overlying sediments. About half of them were still filled with terriginous material after dissolution in acid, and only the short sections were free of internal sediment. Most were seen to have a curved profile, especially the juveniles. Smooth exterior (Plagioglypta canna) Four sections of Plagioglypta, with varying degrees of flattening. (7x) A complete specimen would have been up to 80mm long. Although poorly preserved in white silica, this pair of nearly complete tiny scaphopods shows the curving nature very well. Three more with varying amounts of curvature. One of the largest flattened specimens. Section of a large scaphopod. End on view showing wall thickness. The top is cracked inward from the overlying sediment pressure. Dentalium sp. Linearly ribbed exterior (Dentalium sp.) The ornamented exterior of this genus is stunning under the side lighting! Worn piece with the larger part at bottom having its ribs worn smooth by wave action. Close up of linear ribbing. Thanks for looking!
  7. Hi all, Fort Apache sponges are quite uncommon, only one sizable specimen was obtained from over 200 pounds in rock. But it is well preserved, and show the major features of fossil sponges from the Paleozoic. To be more precise, from our first locality, where nearly all the ostracods came from - we had no sponge material at all. The second new site, a half a mile further down the trail produced this specimen from about 35 pounds in limestone. They were also with numerous bryozoans and gastropods in the same mix. The one sponge we found is a calcareous type sponge that have been preserved by silica replacement. What I dont know is if this is a part of a big flat sponge, or perhaps a section of a tubular one. Maybe some of you can ascertain that. This is the largest specimen we found, it was in a class by itself! About 4 cm long and about 1 cm thick, this fragment of a large irregular sponge had excellent pore and ostium details. A millimeter scale is at bottom. 3.5x view . A closer 7x view of its surface reveals the very "spongy" appearance of the type you might wash your car with. The holes are the pores which take in water to an interior cavity for respiration and feeding on plankton. If this was a part of a large flat sponge, those larger holes might be the osculums and the tiny surface pores the in current holes. Even closer at 20x, this shows the pore details more clearly in a massive 16 focus layers stacked image. There have been a few false alarms on these calcareous sponges. Some of the really worn down bryozoans that are wrapped around urchin spines look indeed like a tubular sponge! We continue to look. This last weekend, me and my auxilliary rock hauler - I mean my wife - packed out another 36 pounds of promising rock from the second richer locality along the Highway 260 Trail east of Payson here in Arizona. We hope to find more! Thanks for looking, its a pleasure for us to show what we have found so far!
  8. Hello everyone! We just finished our study of the diminutive bryozoans we found in the Fort Apache east of Payson along the Highland Trail. As expected, they are all very small indeed and tell us once again that the environment they lived in was a stressed and sediment filled sea bottom, with little escape from the huge clouds of silt and sand raining down on them constantly. Thanks for looking, and it is with great pleasure we share this write up with you! (Adapted from our Paleo web site) For the amount of Limestone we have dissolved - now in excess of 200 pounds or so, it was surprising to only see about a teaspoon of bryozoans show up the acid fines. But this is an additional clue to the conditions which deposited the Fort Apache Limestone. As noted from write ups on previous batches of material, the amount of sand and silt mixed in with the limestone was a whopping 10%. The source of course was the Sahara like dune complex on shore with its blowing winds and large amount of muds and silts washing into the sea. The dune complex is now lithified into the adjacent Schnebly Hill formation, and forms the gorgeous Permian red buttes seen in Sedona and surrounding areas. Great for scenery, but at the time, bad for the marine fauna which had to deal with large amounts of sediment always raining down on the ocean bottom. This explains the almost complete lack of certain fossils, such as crinoids, brachiopods and corals. These invertebrates cannot tolerate large amounts of sediments raining do on on them as it clogs their filter feeding apparatus, and will not be found in such areas. Bryozoans were also filter feeders, and they are very limited in this formation, as are sponges. We encounter three types of small bryozoans in the acid fines from the Fort Apache. First, we have a branch or twig like diminutive bryozoan with extremely small pores over its surface. These are some of the smallest bryozoans we have ever seen! Second, a larger zooid type that encrusts shells and urchin spines. These have excellent detail in each zooecium. (the body chambers for each animal) And finally, fan shaped fenestrate bryozoans can be found in small broken pieces. These net like "moss animals" have some very nice fine details in the fan segments. Only a half a teaspoon of those were found, so are quite rare. Here are some representative images of the bryozoans we have found in the Fort Apache Limestone, with magnifications that vary from 7x to 45x. Fenestrate bryozoans - 7x. These fan shaped colonies were always found in tiny centimeter or less sized fragments, and never larger. But they have excellent surface details on the zooecium side. Closer view, with pin head at bottom for scale. 45x view showing small tube like pouches which contained individuals. These small tube like chambers are called zooecium in fossils and cystid for still extant living species. Every small branching bryozoan we found can fit in a half a teaspoon. Some have Y shaped branching, others are straight or tapered. A pinhead for scale is at the bottom. Some of the smallest members of this type seen here. Millimeter scale at bottom. 45x view of individual with very tiny pores. The third type was a more robust larger encrusting bryozoan. This one covers the exterior of a broken urchin spine. Millimeters at bottom. An urchin spine with a bryozoan partly encrusting its surface. The largest encrusting specimen was stained red by oxides in the silica. Encrusting type over a spine, showing detail in the zooecium. Thanks again for looking, we are now starting work on sponges we found, a very few of them, but they are spectacular in micro details! Living Bryozoans - Gary McDonald.
  9. Well, here is the latest microfossil work on the acid residues of about 35 pounds in limestone collected a few weeks ago at our new Highline trail locality east of Payson. In all, we found perhaps a score of these fossils, mixed in with hordes of gastropods. They are pretty tiny, and definitely classify as microfossils. Every shot here is a stack of at least 5 frames of varying focus, the one killer serpulid tube at 45x is a stack of a dozen images. The background is a nice blue paint sample chip from Home Depot. They have all colors and they are free! Serpulids worm tubes from the Permian Fort Apache Limestone East of Payson - Serpula Spirorbis sp. Live serpulid from Canada: Over two dozen serpulid tubes have been found so far in the acid fines from the second site we have found in the Fort Apache Limestone. Serpulids have been around since the Ordovician and are indeed a very ancient lineage. These worms build small coiled tubes attached to either hard surfaces such as shells or other small invertebrate hard parts, or on the leaves of sea weeds. We have found both types in this formation. They are small, barely visible to the naked eye, yet their coiled tubes are very diagnostic when sorting the silicified remains under magnification. Here are a few of the better preserved specimens found from about 35 pounds of rock from the latest locality east of Payson. Note: captions are below images. Section of spiny Urchin spine, with three serpulids attached permanently. This view shows the coiled tube on the lower left corner. 10x view. Side view of flattened spine, showing two more. Flattening occurs when the sediment containing the fossils are compacted before lithification. A collection of loose Spirorbis serpulids. They would have lived on the bottom of the leaves of sea weeds and when the weed died, the serpulid tubes fall to the bottom to be fossilized. Seen here at 7x magnification. The head of a straight pin is just below. Close up at 45x of the tube spiral that is at the bottom of the above image. You can clearly see the opening coiling over the top of the earlier tube dwelling. It is preserved in nearly pure silica. Bottom side of same specimen, 45x. Note how it is flat - this is the side that attached to the sea weed and grew against it. The serpulid essentially glued itself on to the leaf, forming a flat on the weed side.
  10. Greetings all, We finally finished our microscopic sorting from last weekends fossil adventure on the Highline Trail in the Permian Fort Apache Limestone. The last batch from the acid pans had nearly no microfossils, but many well preserved larger "Macro-Micro" fossils. Two new pygidiums preserved in silica were found, and something very new, we found FIVE free cheeks complete with eye cutouts and genial spines also preserved in silica! These fossils are beautiful shiny and translucent examples of a complete replacement of the trilobites molts in silica which is brown to caramel colored. You might say its a pseudomorph of "silica after trilobite". Im also getting a bit more experienced with the new microscope and stacking software. I found as I suspected, you NEVER want to leave in the .5x reducer lens in front of the two objectives when doing imaging. The addition of that lens causes noticeable astigmatism and chromatic aberration because it is by design ( and all stereo microscopes are made this way that use these auxiliary lenses) tilted at around 15 degrees with respect to the optical path. A doubler lens would do the same thing. These therefore are direct shots with no extra lenses at about 10x and are considerably sharper than previous attempts. First lets start with the new pygidium, a nice 4mm wide specimen attached to the back of a mollusk of Anisopyge: (thats a toothpick holding up one side to make it level) I got the focus stack to work great here - 11 parts using Picolay. The depth of this one was so extreme, only a tiny area was in focus on one shot. A straight pin is on the lower right for scale. Three sets of left side free cheeks: Two right side free cheeks. Well thats todays post, Im continuing to refine my technique on the trinocular microscope images, and hope to share more of my experiences with all of you soon! How do they look to you?
  11. A Trilobite made of Glass.

    Hi all, Last weekend, me and paleo Wife found another fossiliferous outcrop in the Permian Fort Apache Limestone east of Payson, about a mile further down the Highway 260 trail. The past few days, we have been soaking the 35 pounds in limestone in 10% Muriatic, and have found more treasures in this localities rock than any other! In addition to the tiny microfossils I have been sharing with you from this area such as ostracods and tiny mollusks, we on occasion will find fragmentary bits of a trilobite called Anisopyge inornata. They preserve for some peculiar reason as yellow caramel colored translucent silica, and can be spotted easily in the sorting trays because of this. Tuesday night, a new batch came out of the pans from the coarse sieves, and we started going through it. I almost fainted when I found something we had never seen before in the sorting tray - We finally found the "Holy Grail" so to speak of the Fort Apache Limestone, a complete pygidium preserved in carmel colored silica! This "glass" trilobite is not a mold of the exterior or inside but a complete replacement of the original scleroprotein with silica, similar to how the trees in the petrified forest were preserved. Here are a few shots to share with you now, taken tonight of both the top and bottom sides. That huge 16 gauge nail in the photo - is actually a straight pin. The pygidium is about 3mm wide. So much more to come out of this amazing new site, I will share it with you as time permits! Top view at 10x Bottom View of the inside of the pygidium Me at the site last weekend Paleo Wife Unit searches for fossiliferous rocks... Well, thanks for looking, I hope you enjoyed this report! PS - Im still figuring out the focus stacking software, bear with me!
  12. Greetings all, After about 200 pounds of limestone have been hauled out on our backs, we have used countless gallons of muriatic acid to dissolve out the clams and other bivalves from the limestone. Here is a short report on what we have found so far. The locality is the same - The HIgh Line Trail east of Payson. They are all Leonardian in age, and Permian Marine exclusively. Identifying bivalves is always challenging since there are so many similar looking types, and many of them are internal casts which present no outward identifying features as well. Fortunately for us, Stephen Winters of Florida State University in 1963 wrote a landmark memoir for the GSA - Memoir 89 in which he spent years identifying many of the tiny mollusks we were finding in the same formation from 2000 pounds of material he collected at the best localities on the Fort Apache Indian reservation. Recall that off the reservation where the formation starts to thin out considerably, there are virtually no fossils to be found anywhere! This new locality off of the High line Trail we have discovered has many of the same faunal elements as what Winters found, and appears to be nearly as rich as his typical localities. Preparation Limestones were collected on the basis of visible silicified fossils eroding out of the limestones on the surface along the trail. Complete specimens were almost never seen in the field, and many times you had to collect blindly any promising rock. Hauling this out on your backpack was quite unpleasant, however one must keep in mind that THIS locality is one of the rarest in all of Arizona because the Fort Apache Limestone here contains visible fossils. 10% muriatic acid was used to free the specimens, and three sets of sieves were used to separate out the large amount of terrigenous material (find sand) from the silicified fossils. The fines were dried and examined under a binocular microscope for specimens. Palaeonucula levatiformis. The number one most common clam, they ranged in size from extremely tiny - less than 1mm size up to 5mm. Astartella subquadrata. Another common find, many had excellent detail in the ribbing as seen here. Parallelodon anaklassium. Rare but stunning with the wing on an elongate trapezoidal shaped shell. Many fragments of this one were found before this magnificent complete specimen was found. Permophorus sp. ? Many of these are internal molds making a definite identification impossible. Bakevellia sulcata. We found a half dozen of this species, after dissolving about 200 pounds of limestone. They are VERY peculiar! Palaeonucula levatiformis. These are some of the smallest found. Aviculopecten sp. More pieces showed up later in the acid fines. this one is several inches long. Think of this as the outer rim of a large pectin like shell. Aviculopecten sp. More of a wing from one side. Thanks for looking, I have more images and details on my web page: http://www.schursastrophotography.com/paleo/Fortapache-3.html
  13. Greetings all, Another break in our summer monsoon, and last weekend we were out again back at our fossil outcrop in the Permian Fort Apache Limestone east of Payson Az. First, to get you in the right mind set about this formation, a bit of information. While the entire Mogollon Rim area (south side of the huge Colorado Plateau) is all permian both marine and terrestrial, There are several different transgressions of the sea to visit here. The brick red Schnebly Hill formation - which is equivalent to the Supai in the Grand Canyon to some extent - is a huge fossilized Sahara style dune field, composed of non fossiliferous sandstones with huge eolian crossbeds. This is the very same rock which makes Arizona's town of Sedona famous for its red colored buttes. BUT, a narrow band of marine lies in the upper half of this red bed sequence! it is a grey micrite like limestone ranging from about 10 feet thick in Sedona to around 100 feet thick at the type section in Fort Apache on the indian res. Now for the bad news. It is nearly completely non fossiliferous. We have spent years exploring outcrops of this limestone all over the state and come up empty handed. Until now. A few years ago we found an outcrop along the Highline Trail east of Payson which was rich with very tiny fossils. A few selected specimens were placed in the pool acid and we discovered that the limestone dissolved easily and left tons of fine sand and dirt, and some very tiny fossils that were silicified. FInally - our first site with fossils in the Fort Apache! But why were all the fossils missing from everywhere else? We have hoped to collect enough of the material from this site to begin to answer that question. (we have, more on that later...). Todays posting will initially start with one of the smallest of fossil found, the ostracods. We found at least three types picking through over the acid fines from over 60 pounds of limestone. I wont attempt to identify them, that is for an expert on these tiny crustaceans. First lets look at the site, and give you a look at where we collected our material. From the parking lot at the trail head, you can see directly ahead the 20 foot thick layer of Limestone. We are going to an area just below its scree slope. Here I am at the outcrop. Looking closely at a fossiliferous boulder, you can see some of the few larger fossils, productids. The layer is also packed with some urchin material. Looking for promising rocks for tiny fossils, I collected anything that had fossils on the surface. One slab of trace fossils too. It was the only one we found that day. Back home, in the paleo lab we sorted out the prospects for the acid bath. We use 10% muriatic in pails out side and sieves of various sizes to get rid of the loads of dirt mixed in. Also I mention that the limestone is very "fetid". This is a strong petroleum like smell that occurs when you hit the rock with a hammer caused by enclosed organics. Now for some microscope shots. Takes many hours to pick out the specimens from the acid fines! Ostracods, 5x with mm scale. this by far was the most common type we found. They are fully silicified and have an oval or rectangular shape, and a slit on one side for the arms to protrude. This second type of ostracod had a very neat ornament on the shell exterior. Very rare too, we only found half a dozen of them in 60 pounds of rock. Oh my. 15x close up of ostracode #1 Now for a few 30x shots. This is the max for my stereo microscope. The second type is quite interesting at 30x. and TWO stuck together~ Well, thanks for looking, we have more to write on this trip and some of the other micro fossils we found. It is starting to become clear to us that the Fort Apache limestone does indeed have some very tiny fossils to be found. And next write up Ill you why....
  14. HI all, As we go through the latest acid fines from fossiliferous limestones from the Permian Fort Apache Formation at our new rich site on the Mogollon Rim, we now have a new specimen which is larger than dozen others we have obtained from this site over the past few years, a whopping 7mm long! The Permian was the very end of the span of these enigmatic fossils, the current thoughts are they were a lophophorate of some sort related to brachiopods and bryozoans. These Tentaculitids (say that three times real fast) are curved which is a bit rare, and etch out as hollow tubes with one end closed. Here the tip is missing, but you can see the general shape. More exciting finds are coming out of the fines, besides super tiny gastropods, we have found many urchin parts and some silicified trilobites as well. Ill keep you updated as we sort through the latest material! 10x microscope shot, mm scale at bottom.
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