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Found 6 results

  1. I am excited to share with my friends on The Fossil Forum a significant discovery that I made last week. In 1870 an unusual spine like structure was described from a Pennsylvanian aged black shale site in Illinois. The fossil was believed to belong to an unknown chondrichthyan (shark) that is unlike anything anyone has ever seen. For over 150 years, these denticles have shown up in sites around the world. This animal ranges from the Pennsylvanian to the Triassic meaning that it survived the Permian extinction. Researchers have been perplexed and frustrated as aside from a few patches of scales, no articulated material has ever been found. Dr Rainer Zangerl spent many years extensively collecting black shale sites in Illinois and Indiana. He claims to have found a specimen in Indiana only to have it disintegrate in front of him. He described it having had an eel like body covered in the feathery denticles. I am pleased to announce that I have found what appears to be a complete well preserved specimen. For almost 20 years, I have been searching several black shale sites in North central Illinois. The shale is very similar to the Mecca Quarry black shale found at sites in Indiana.I have posted pictures in the past of various other fossils that I have found at the site. The denticles are relatively abundant but I have never seen any other signs of this mystery shark. Last week, I made a last minute trip out to a site that I occasionally collect and spent a few hours splitting slabs of shale. I was not having much luck and getting ready to call it a day. I decided to open one last large slab. I took a whack and it split perfectly. There in front of me was probably the most scientifically significant fossil that I have ever found. I knew almost immediately what it was but could not believe what I was looking at. A small shark like animal with an elongated eel like body and various spines. The majority of the fossil is covered by a thin layer of black shale so it does not look that impressive. Once prepped, the preservation should be fantastic and similar to other fish that I have shared from these shales.. I am in the process of searching for a researcher who wants to describe it. The fossil appears to be relatively complete from head to tail. I will keep this thread updated as things progress. Without further delay please enjoy being some of the first people to ever see what Listracanthus looked like.
  2. Yesterday I went on a combined field trip with ESCONI and LOESS to the Starved Rock Clay Products pit in Utica, Illinois. ( @connorp was there too!) This open pit exposes the Pennsylvanian Mecca Quarry black shale, Francis Creek shale, Colchester Coal, and an underclay below the coal- an assembly of strata that have produced world-renowned fossils elsewhere, including Mazon Creek fossils further east and complete sharks from the Mecca Quarry Shale in Indiana. At this location, unfortunately, the concretions are almost all blanks but the black shale does produce isolated fauna including bivalves, brachiopods, cephalopods, and shark teeth and scales. The underclay also contains petrified and pyritized wood and root traces. About 30 of us gathered at a nearby McDonalds before heading to the pit- dark clouds on the horizon brought intermittent hard rain that kindly let up by the time we reached the pit floor. My interest for this trip was in the black shale, with hopes of finding shark material in particular. With the recent rains everything was muddy, and the black shale could be found in chunks strewn along the slumping highwall. Some folks were splitting the shale, but I did not have any luck with that-all of my finds were already exposed. The mud really made it hard to see whether or not there were fossils in the exposed black shale, but I was happy to be able to find a few pieces worth taking home- as often seems to be the case for me when fossil hunting, I found my best stuff in the first hour and virtually nothing the rest of the time I was there.
  3. Our shark adaptation education program for elementary students follows up the Cladodonts with three of the craziest looking early sharks and three that we think kids will love learning about. The Eugeneodontid "sharks" may not be sharks but they are just too cool not to teach the kids about. Bizarre is interesting and I also love talking about evolutionary extremes. The best part of these next animals is that they each allow my son to really stretch out as an artist and create some weird looking creatures. The kids will learn that Edestus were large, predatory shark-like fish that are related to modern ratfish. We will quickly cover the tooth whorl which is where the term Scissor-tooth comes from. I have been reading theories as to how the teeth were used and I think it will be fun to discuss possible feeding methods with the kids. We will not spend much time on Listracanthus because there is not much information about them. I have seen them described as being eel-like and covered in the "feather" denticles. This is one that is really about the artwork so my son is the star with this species. Can not wait to see his finished rendition. I think the kids will really love Stethacanthus. I know it is a cladodont but we separate it in the presentation. The Anvil Shark is a wild creature. The anvil shaped, denticle covered spine, patch of spine on its head, and the whip-like projections from the pectoral fins are adaptations that are open to debate. Asking open ended questions with this species will be more fun than giving the kids theories. What do you think the spines were used for and what do you think those whips are all about? The kids will guide the presentation about Stethacanthus. While we wont be adding any additional Cladodont fossils any time soon, I do hope to add either Caseodus or Campodus to our collection before the end of spring. I like the Eugeneodontids as artistic subjects for my son so we will pick up more of these fossils as we progress. Our presentation fossils Pic 1- Edestus heinrichi. This is an Illinois coal mine fossil, dated to between 360-320 mya. Another personal favorite. These are not common and it is pretty cool to be able to show this one to students. Pic 2- Listracanthus. A "feather" denticle from the Pennsylvanian-Desmoinesian in Iowa. Not the best example as it is difficult to see but a good photograph will help. Still it is cool just to have the Feather Shark in the program ! Pic 3- Stethacanthus altonesis. One of the two teeth we have from the Caney Shale Formation in Oklahoma. Again, it is just too cool to have Stethacanthus fossils. I do not know how rare they are or anything but it is just such a freaky little creature.
  4. FAIL!

    "The appearance of these sharks are largely unknown. However, author and illustrator Ray Troll mentions in his book, Sharkabet, about how paleontologist Rainer Zangerl once discovered a large shale slab containing a long, eel-like fish covered in long, spine-like denticles, only to have it dry out and crumble into dust. As such, according to Zangerl's account, Troll reconstructs Listracanthus as resembling a tremendous, fiercely-bristled frill shark." http://fossil.wikia.com/wiki/Listracanthus Oh my GOD!!!!!!! How frustrating!!!! To actually have uncovered an imprint of an extinct shark, one of the many holy grails of collecting, but it being destroyed, and before anyone else could even see it(and i guess before he took a picture of it:/ ). Brings a whole new aspect into the sad idea of discoveries that could, or even HAVE been made, but haven't, won't, or can't be actually discovered to science:( I wonder how many paleontologists have nightmares about that? Maybe even a common nightmare thread for the career? *by the way, these are in the edestus/helicoprion family, so maybe this is a clue as to what those guys looked like? (simultaneous to all of helicoprion's and to most of edestus' known spans...I don't know what, if anything, that might point to as far as likelyhoods of potential similarities)
  5. I'm happy to announce i possibly found the most complete Listracanthus to date. And we may finally get a proper ID for this strange creature. I thought this was regurgitation, but while prepping i believe i ran into cartilage. So i will stop prepping and give this to a professional, or at least let someone with more experience look at this. Unfortunately the rest is in a giant wall of black shale that i won't be able to get back to until next Spring/Summer. The denticles are up to 6mm thick and associated with smaller denticles. I will get more pictures under a scope when i get a chance. God willing i will recover the rest of this creature in 2019. Happy hunting! Possible cartilage
  6. Pennsylvanian Illinois

    Hi, I found this fossil last year on a trip to the Starved Rock Clay Pit. I didn't find out what it was until just recently: a spine from a shark/eel-like creature called Listracanthus. My question is what is on the other side? Looks like a zig-zaggy impression of some sort. Thanks for any help.
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