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Mammals (insectivores) from the Eocene/Oligocene M&M Ranch in Nebraska


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I donated thousands of specimens that I collected from anthills on my sons’ M&M Ranch (mostly Oligocene but there are a few Eocene small areas) in Nebraska to the Smithsonian and to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Museum of Geology.  There are currently six researchers studying the specimens with multiple papers in progress.  Covid-19 slowed the progress down significantly but it looks like a few of the papers are now starting to move forward.

 

Below is a link to one of my TFF posts that shows a few of the micro specimens that I collected and donated:

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/66138-oligocene-micros-from-the-mm-ranch-in-nebraska/&tab=comments#comment-692680

 

Below is a link to a TFF post that shows macro specimens that are also found on the M&M ranch.  The specimens shown in this post were not part of my donations.

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/94904-mm-ranch-in-nebraska/&

 

The first paper that will get published (in writing right now) describes mammals (insectivores) from the M&M Ranch.  Below is a preliminary illustration of what families/genera/species were found on the ranch.  I was really happy that there was a new species of Oligoryctes and a new genus of Soricidae (shrews).  However, the specimens provided further scientific value as summarized in the below e-mail statements by the insectivore researcher:

 

“The effort was definitely worth it. Even for some of the already known species, the specimens in this collection preserve parts of the animal not seen in previously described specimens and there are also quite a few range extensions (both in terms of age and geography). And this is just the “insectivores,” I am sure the other portions of the fauna will also be informative and provide many new discoveries”

 

image.thumb.png.f267e038112b1a55b489f83ba0f8aa00.png

 

 

The numbers in parentheses represent the number of specimens.  You can see that for some of the species there were a very large number of specimens like H. fugax where there were 501 specimens.

 

When the paper is published I’ll add a link to this post.

 

Other papers that will eventually be published will describe Squamates (snakes, lizards and legless lizards), Amphibians (frogs and salamanders), Mammals (rodents) and eggshells from the M&M Ranch.

 

Marco Sr.

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Very very cool!

 

Your efforts with the ant-hill matrix from your sons' ranch are bearing significant rewards to fill in many gaps in the faunal assemblage of the area. I scanned down the number of specimens to see what was the most common and noticed that H. fugax seemed to be the dominant species that you were turning up. Of course, this just meant that I had to go see what that critter was about since it was beyond the periphery of my fossil knowledge. Turned up this very nice page from the digital library at UT Austin:

 

http://digimorph.org/specimens/Herpetotherium_fugax/

 

We look forward to reading through these papers once they finally make publication.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Congratulations and thank you for latest your contribution to science! Always great to see new holotypes getting published.

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50 minutes ago, digit said:

Very very cool!

 

Your efforts with the ant-hill matrix from your sons' ranch are bearing significant rewards to fill in many gaps in the faunal assemblage of the area. I scanned down the number of specimens to see what was the most common and noticed that H. fugax seemed to be the dominant species that you were turning up. Of course, this just meant that I had to go see what that critter was about since it was beyond the periphery of my fossil knowledge. Turned up this very nice page from the digital library at UT Austin:

 

http://digimorph.org/specimens/Herpetotherium_fugax/

 

We look forward to reading through these papers once they finally make publication.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

Ken

 

Thank you for the link.  It is nice to see what a scientific name correlates to.

 

Marco Sr.

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28 minutes ago, grandpa said:

Very impressive.  I'm wow'ed.  :o :tiphat:

 

28 minutes ago, WhodamanHD said:

Congratulations and thank you for latest your contribution to science! Always great to see new holotypes getting published.

 

Thank you.  I'm really happy to see some progress again on these papers.  It really can take a lot of years from time of donation to papers being published.

 

Marco Sr.

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Good work Marco:thumbsu::fistbump:

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Your generosity for science is exemplary. Looking forward to the link, and also the next installments.

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5 hours ago, jcbshark said:

Good work Marco:thumbsu::fistbump:

 

4 hours ago, Ludwigia said:

Your generosity for science is exemplary. Looking forward to the link, and also the next installments.

 

Thank you.  Getting the papers written has been very difficult with Covid-19.  Getting papers published has also been very difficult as a good number of publishers world-wide have not been publishing per their usual schedules.

 

Marco Sr.

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This is very impressive.  Good work, marco

 

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8 hours ago, jpc said:

This is very impressive.  Good work, marco

 

 

Jean-Pierre

 

It took 3 trips to the M&M Ranch to collect anthill matrix and one and a half years searching the matrix to find these specimens.  I wound up with over 200,000 specimens total.  I pulled all the recognizable specimens (jaws, teeth, osteoderms, vertebrae and other bones, around five thousand specimens) and sent them to the appropriate researchers.  The remaining bones/bone fragments (vast majority of the specimens) first went to the Squamate researcher to pull Squamate bones.  He found a good number of Squamate skull pieces and other bones that he recognized.  Then the bones/bone fragments went to one of the amphibian researchers who pulled a number of amphibian bones that he recognized.  Currently the bones/bone fragments are with the mammal researcher (rodents).  The vast majority of the bones/bone fragments are from mammals (lots of mammal skull pieces).  The mammal (insectivores) researcher will get them next.

 

Marco Sr.

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I love the fact that the bone fragments are making their way through the researchers in round-robin fashion with each pulling specimens they recognize. Seems like a great way of letting you do the effort of gleaning the micro-fossils from the matrix and then having the specialists identify specimens they may find useful.

 

When I'm picking Montbrook micro-matrix as a volunteer for the FLMNH I roughly categorize the picked specimens to keep them somewhat organized. Certain fossils (like Dasyatis sp. teeth) are abundant and get separated out into their own bag to keep them from overwhelming other types of ray teeth. Specimens like little fish teeth get separated as a group but not classified further. There is too much variation in these teeth and several unusual taxa at the site that I leave the classification to someone with a higher pay grade. I also return a little specimen bag of mystery bits--diverse specimens that look interesting but are outside of the periphery of my current knowledge. There was just two days ago a mystery bit that resembled a rodent incisor but not nearly enough to classify as such.  Looking back at your topic on the diversity of your anthill micro-finds (from several years back) I believe my piece may be similar to your rabbit teeth.


http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/66138-oligocene-micros-from-the-mm-ranch-in-nebraska/&do=findComment&comment=692683

 

Richard Hulbert will have the specimen back soon and so I'll have confirmation one way or the other before long. If this is a Montbrook rabbit tooth it may be the most complete to date (only 2 other partials have been found). Picking micro-matrix is good fun but can be tedious and requires dedication (a year and a half in your case). It is spectacular when those long hours pay off by turning up tiny treasures that help fill in an often neglected area of the faunal assemblage.

 

I expect the rate of new publications in these pandemic times have slowed to a glacial pace. We have something to look forward to when they do finally make it through the process and get published.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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4 hours ago, MarcoSr said:

 

Jean-Pierre

 

It took 3 trips to the M&M Ranch to collect anthill matrix and one and a half years searching the matrix to find these specimens.  I wound up with over 200,000 specimens total.  I pulled all the recognizable specimens (jaws, teeth, osteoderms, vertebrae and other bones, around five thousand specimens) and sent them to the appropriate researchers.  The remaining bones/bone fragments (vast majority of the specimens) first went to the Squamate researcher to pull Squamate bones.  He found a good number of Squamate skull pieces and other bones that he recognized.  Then the bones/bone fragments went to one of the amphibian researchers who pulled a number of amphibian bones that he recognized.  Currently the bones/bone fragments are with the mammal researcher (rodents).  The vast majority of the bones/bone fragments are from mammals (lots of mammal skull pieces).  The mammal (insectivores) researcher will get them next.

 

Marco Sr.

How many productive anthills have you been working?  I have a grand total of one anthill in the White River Fm.  I have collected it twice and gotten some bones and teeth, but no great quantity.  If your researcher partners want more samples to expand the geographical ranges, let me know.  Mine are from eastern WY, so not too far from yours.  

 

(PS... I just noticed that the discussion is also flowing at your original post about M&M Ranch micros.

Flowing is a strong word. It is only me discussing.  I added a post about photography because I thought that discussion was on this post.)  

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very,very interesting,particularly in view of the E/O boundary aspect of it.

Good work!

can recommend the item below,which focuses on enamel ultrastructure and postcranial elements(and figures a left petrosal)

edit

->> error of omission: subscriber content/paywalled

ladeveze100mamma0 (2).jpg

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2 hours ago, jpc said:

How many productive anthills have you been working?  I have a grand total of one anthill in the White River Fm.  I have collected it twice and gotten some bones and teeth, but no great quantity.  If your researcher partners want more samples to expand the geographical ranges, let me know.  Mine are from eastern WY, so not too far from yours.  

 

(PS... I just noticed that the discussion is also flowing at your original post about M&M Ranch micros.

Flowing is a strong word. It is only me discussing.  I added a post about photography because I thought that discussion was on this post.)  

 

Jean-Pierre

 

There were nineteen areas of the ranch that I took anthill matrix.  Some areas only had one anthill.  Most areas had three to five anthills.  Probably at least 40 or so anthills total.  Plus a couple of these anthills were huge, two foot high.

 

I'll ask if they want more specimens.  They probably would.

 

I'll check my other post.

 

Marco Sr.

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2 hours ago, doushantuo said:

very,very interesting,particularly in view of the E/O boundary aspect of it.

Good work!

can recommend the item below,which focuses on enamel ultrastructure and postcranial elements(and figures a left petrosal)

edit

->> error of omission: subscriber content/paywalled

ladeveze100mamma0 (2).jpg

 

Thank you for the paper reference.  It is appreciated.

 

One of the researchers is going to the ranch Sept 5 to verify the time periods for the areas where the matrix came from.  He is a geologist who has a lot of experience with the different layers of the Chadron and Brule Formations in South Dakota.  That E/O boundary aspect is of special interest to all of the researchers.

 

Marco Sr.

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20 minutes ago, MarcoSr said:

 

Thank you for the paper reference.  It is appreciated.

 

One of the researchers is going to the ranch Sept 5 to verify the time periods for the areas where the matrix came from.  He is a geologist who has a lot of experience with the different layers of the Chadron and Brule Formations in South Dakota.  That E/O boundary aspect is of special interest to all of the researchers.

 

Marco Sr.

Here is the link to the Herpetotherium paper.  They won't let you download the pdf, so I printed it up.  20 pages.  Now I know why Peratherium is not used any more.  

 

https://www.schweizerbart.de/papers/pala/detail/284/87443/The_anatomy_of_Herpetotherium_cf_fugax_Cope_1873_a_metatherian_from_the_Oligocene_of_North_America

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1 hour ago, jpc said:

Here is the link to the Herpetotherium paper.  They won't let you download the pdf, so I printed it up.  20 pages.  Now I know why Peratherium is not used any more.  

 

https://www.schweizerbart.de/papers/pala/detail/284/87443/The_anatomy_of_Herpetotherium_cf_fugax_Cope_1873_a_metatherian_from_the_Oligocene_of_North_America

 

Jean-Pierre

 

Thank you for the link.  I really wish all papers were free downloads without a membership/subscription required but I guess if the publisher wasn't making any money they wouldn't be publishing anything.  My filing system for papers stinks.  I probably have several thousand of them.  I can never find anything even with word searches.  I'll remember something and want to cite it or just confirm what I remember but half the time I can't get back to the paper where I read it.

 

Marco Sr.

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This is a fantastic project.  Bravo!

 

I'd love to do something similar with all my ant hill material one day as well.

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2 hours ago, MarcoSr said:

 

Jean-Pierre

 

Thank you for the link.  I really wish all papers were free downloads without a membership/subscription required but I guess if the publisher wasn't making any money they wouldn't be publishing anything.  My filing system for papers stinks.  I probably have several thousand of them.  I can never find anything even with word searches.  I'll remember something and want to cite it or just confirm what I remember but half the time I can't get back to the paper where I read it.

 

Marco Sr.

My filing system is the same exact thing.  Both paper and pdf.  

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3 hours ago, ParkerPaleo said:

This is a fantastic project.  Bravo!

 

I'd love to do something similar with all my ant hill material one day as well.

 

Micro specimens from anthills tend to have a higher potential than the macro specimens to be something new to science because not many collectors look for the small specimens.  You should definitely someday have your anthill specimens checked out.

 

Marco Sr.

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As an avid micro matrix searcher, this is just awesome, Marco Sr. ! :)

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11 hours ago, old bones said:

As an avid micro matrix searcher, this is just awesome, Marco Sr. ! :)

 

Julianna

 

Thank you.  I was really lucky that the anthills on the M&M ranch were plentiful and so full of micro specimens.  I checked the anthills (I only found a few) on neighboring ranches that we had permission to collect and found only a few worn specimens total.  The neighboring ranches were exposed Eocene layers and I don't think that the ants like the chemicals in those layers.

 

Marco Sr.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As a quick update to this post, the researcher who is describing the mammals-insectivores from the M&M Ranch visited the M&M Ranch yesterday.  My two sons guided him throughout the ranch so he could look at each of the anthill sites that the specimens came from.  He is also a geologists and wanted to confirm the geology and formation layers at the different anthill sites.  It was a very hot day on the ranch with the temperature getting up to 104 F in the afternoon.  My son Marco Jr. called me afterwards and said everything went well and they were able to check out the 19 different areas on the ranch that had the anthills where the specimens came from.  We learned from the researcher that the time-frame of the early Orellan Age had been moved from the early Oligocene to the late Eocene after more careful study of the geology of the layers versus the specimen types found in them.  As a result, some of the areas on the ranch that I thought were early Oligocene are now considered late Eocene.  Once the researcher writes up his findings on each of the anthill areas, he will pass them along to the other researchers describing the squamate, bird, amphibian and mammals-rodents from the M&M Ranch.  He also answered all of the questions that my sons had on the geology of the ranch including verifying that several areas of the ranch were Eocene channel deposits.

 

Marco Sr.

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Very nice! Excellent opportunity to have a geologist that makes house calls. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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