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I'm handy with a microscope; I have a nice low power stereo dissecting scope & 4-5 other microscopes plus a variety of hand lenses, hand held field microscope. I can do well enough with rock & mineral identification and not too bad with fossils. However, I'm not sure of what I'm looking when examining samples under the scope. Could use some guidance. Kim
Finally managed to get out on a Florida fossil hunting trip for the 2014/15 season here in South Florida. Instead of going to the Peace River (where the water level is still dropping from a huge spike due to heavy rains nearly a month ago around Thanksgiving) I contacted Jeff (jcbshark) and we planned an outing at the creek where he collects his world famous cookiecutter shark micro-matrix. Earlier this year I had searched--cup by cup--through nearly a 5-gallon bucket of micro-matrix I had collected from the Peace River looking for cookiecutter shark teeth (to no avail). It seems that cookiecutter shark fossils are absent (or incredibly rare) in the deposits that the Peace cuts through. I've been fascinated with cookiecutter sharks since I learned about them as a kid (yup, I was a fish geek even then). The odd hole-saw-like fused lower dentition of this shark has been on my fossil bucket list since I first saw the images on this forum. Many of these images were posted by people searching through samples of the micro-matrix that Jeff had sent out to TFF members. It was high time I got in on the fun. I met up with Jeff and a few of his wife's relatives (who were new to fossil hunting) on the creek early Saturday morning. We were later joined by Chris (Search4) who came along to try his luck. The air temps were still climbing out of the low 60's but the skies were clear and the temps would later top out in the upper 70's so the chilly water (likely somewhere in the mid 50's) was actually quite bearable once you got used to it (read that as "numb"). The creek was mostly pretty shallow and I didn't get any deeper than about knee-deep all morning. My wife Tammy (always the more practical) was wise enough to bring her waders for comfort (and style). Jeff led us to the location he had previously collected his cookiecutter micro-matrix though he mentioned that there was likely nothing special about this spot and that the same sort of matrix could likely be gathered from anywhere along the creek. The creek which is the source of the cookiecutter micro-matrix. I had brought my micro-matrix collecting gear and soon got to work. I have sifting screens that I've made for searching the gravel beds of the Peace River and its tributaries. I've previously described how I make my sifting screen (and my probe) here: http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/42992-end-of-year-peace-river-trip/#entry467550 I've since converted one of my sifters from 1/4" mesh to 1/2" mesh for when I work areas with coarser gravel or when I want to work through larger amounts of gravel quickly while looking for larger items. I brought my 1/2" sifter along with one of my 1/4" sifters as well as some 1/16" window screen mesh cut to size so that it fits comfortably into the sifting screens. The technique I use to collect micro-matrix is to double sift using a stacked pair of sifting screens. I place the fine window screen mesh inside the sifter with the 1/2" mesh. On top of this sifting screen I stack my sifter with the 1/4" mesh. The arrangement can be seen below: Loose window screen mesh fits inside one sifter and a second sifter fits on top of the first. The stacked sifters efficiently sort out the micro-matrix.
mikecable posted a topic in Fossil PhotographyAs I've been learning about my new to me Bausch and Lomb Stereozoom 4 microscope I discovered that the indention for the stage plate was 120 mm. 120 mm is the size of a standard CD or DVD. (Totally irrelevant aside about the nature of memory, or at least my memory. Somehow I knew the dimensions of a CD. I can't remember someone's name two minutes after I shake their hand, or a phone number 10 seconds after I leave the phone book. Sake should be served at body temperature--98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. I learned that almost useless fact at the age of ten from an Ian Fleming novel about James Bond. It's still with me 40 years later. Regardless, a CD fits perfectly into the stage of my scope.) The tinker in me started thinking about custom stage plates for photo backgrounds. I'm not an engineer or scientist. I'm a sixth grade science teacher, an amateur naturalist, and a jack of all trades, master of none. But I saw an opportunity for invention. Unneeded CDs are not nearly as ubiquitous as they were during AOl's heyday, but I would imagine most folks have more than a few around. The above just have circles of various colored construction paper glued to both sides. Various old maps and cross sections. One of the plates in my scope base. Good for macro photos. Good for micro-photography as well. Now that I've discovered this neat hack, I want to make some more plates that are even more customized. Current or historic USGS topos for the actual sites where the fossils were collected. Maybe Google satellite images as well. Cross-section from the collection site. I also want one CD with black/white one either side, and a scale, for field photography. And one with a grid for sorting and fauna analysis/species distribution.