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Continental fossil from Italy. My first experience with the Microfossil realm


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Hello everyone, I want to tell you my first experience with Microfossil. (I can't stop anymore, it's a drug). 

Anyway, last months I worked in the paleontology museum of my university. My role was pretty much to be a factotum but in particular I had to rediscover all the fossils that are in the deposits and in the basement. I can't describe you the tons and tons of unknown material there is. We already found many interesting and never described pieces. 

Anyway, back to our story, in the deposits there where dozens of bags full of fossiliferous sediments from Cava dell'erba in souther Italy a lower pleistocene/pliocene site known better for the macrofossils (Pirro Nord fauna). The bags need all to be sifted cleaned and studied, looking also for human remains. Three of these bags were unfortunately broken and all the sediment was mixed making it completely useless for any study (the sediment come from carsic fissures so the level and the position is very important). So the museum director told me that sediment was going to be thrown away, or if I wanted I could bring it at home. I clearly took it with me, I washed sifted and collected and here are my preliminary results. 

 The photo represents all the teeth and mandible I found there are insectivors rodents amphibian, there is also a canine (from what it can come from? It's the second from right in the second row) 

I still have a bag to study and tons of bones to identify, I'm gonna ask you some help very soon

 

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18 minutes ago, Kiros said:

Three of these bags were unfortunately broken and all the sediment was mixed making it completely useless for any study (the sediment come from carsic fissures so the level and the position is very important). So the museum director told me that sediment was going to be thrown away, or if I wanted I could bring it at home. I clearly took it with me, I washed sifted and collected and here are my preliminary results.

Understood why the loss of collection data made the bags of matrix useless for scientific purposes. Glad to see that the fossil material was not wasted and found a good home with someone who appreciates these wonderful tiny fossils.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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1 hour ago, digit said:

Understood why the loss of collection data made the bags of matrix useless for scientific purposes. Glad to see that the fossil material was not wasted and found a good home with someone who appreciates these wonderful tiny fossils.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Yes, unfortunately often museum collections are huge and some of the material is forgotten in deposits. This material was collected in the 80's and never studied :DOH:

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welcome to the world of micros and minis! Yes, as you say, it is completely addictive!!!  Can't wait to see some more pics! 

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18 minutes ago, Kiros said:

This material was collected in the 80's and never studied 

Better late than never. ;)

 

I'm presently picking some micro-matrix from a site in Florida that is being actively worked. There are few who care to endure the tedium of looking through micro-matrix for hundreds of hours to find rare fossils among the common ones. As a result I'm processing matrix that was collected in 2015. It wasn't 'forgotten' just awaiting someone with the time and interest to work through it. I could likely pick 8 hours a day for years and not catch up--not that that would be a bad thing. :P

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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These fossils show a lot of color.  I have some similar Pleistocene aged stuff from France.  If you are lucky you might find a shrew jaw or two.  Shrew jaws are cool because shrews are the only mammal with colored teeth, and with the amount of color I see there, you might get red shrew teeth.  They are very cool. 

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4 minutes ago, jpc said:

These fossils show a lot of color.  I have some similar Pleistocene aged stuff from France.  If you are lucky you might find a shrew jaw or two.  Shrew jaws are cool because shrews are the only mammal with colored teeth, and with the amount of color I see there, you might get red shrew teeth.  They are very cool. 

Thank you! I thought so too, on the first row I think there is at least a shrew jaw, but I have to take better photos, which animal can have this canine? 

Screenshot_20201226_183833.jpg

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a lot of mammals have canines.  I have no idea how to ID them.  Others here might know Pleistocene mammals better than me.  

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21 minutes ago, Kiros said:

but I have to take better photos

Ah, you've put your finger (figuratively) on one of the problems with micro-fossils--they can be a real pain to photograph well. :fear:

 

I've read that now 99%+ of all photos are taken on smart phones these days. Most smart phones don't do macro photography very well unaided but I have heard of folks getting small clip-on diopter lenses to allow better macro photography. Some small point-and-shoot cameras have a macro mode (usually indicated with a microscope icon). These can do quite a nice job of imaging smaller finds that can still be seen clearly (and closely) with the naked eye. When you start getting down to millimeter scale micro-fossils then microscopes with digital cameras are the way to go. Usually, the depth of field (portion of the subject clearly in focus) can be extremely limited (paper thin) at higher magnification and photo-stacking software must be used to allow all parts of a micro-fossil to be seen sharply in the combined image.

 

Without extra photographic gear the best you can do to help a smart phone camera capture as nice an image as possible is to shoot outdoors in bright (but possibly indirect) sunlight. This will help the camera use a short shutter speed and a small aperture with the abundant light. Photographing on a neutral gray background can help with the exposure. Black Florida river fossils photograph like shadows on a white background but look much better on a darker background. Cameras will try to do white balancing to cancel out any color cast in the image. Using a gray piece of construction paper (available at craft stores) makes for a nice background to shoot small items against.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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5 minutes ago, digit said:

Ah, you've put your finger (figuratively) on one of the problems with micro-fossils--they can be a real pain to photograph well. :fear:

 

I've read that now 99%+ of all photos are taken on smart phones these days. Most smart phones don't do macro photography very well unaided but I have heard of folks getting small clip-on diopter lenses to allow better macro photography. Some small point-and-shoot cameras have a macro mode (usually indicated with a microscope icon). These can do quite a nice job of imaging smaller finds that can still be seen clearly (and closely) with the naked eye. When you start getting down to millimeter scale micro-fossils then microscopes with digital cameras are the way to go. Usually, the depth of field (portion of the subject clearly in focus) can be extremely limited (paper thin) at higher magnification and photo-stacking software must be used to allow all parts of a micro-fossil to be seen sharply in the combined image.

 

Without extra photographic gear the best you can do to help a smart phone camera capture as nice an image as possible is to shoot outdoors in bright (but possibly indirect) sunlight. This will help the camera use a short shutter speed and a small aperture with the abundant light. Photographing on a neutral gray background can help with the exposure. Black Florida river fossils photograph like shadows on a white background but look much better on a darker background. Cameras will try to do white balancing to cancel out any color cast in the image. Using a gray piece of construction paper (available at craft stores) makes for a nice background to shoot small items against.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Thank you I should have an eccessory for my camera that allows me to invert my 50mm lens end get good macros, but I never tried before

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Really nice specimens.  I collected in 2015 through 2017 a good number of micro mammal, squamate,  and amphibian specimens from my sons Eocene/Oligocene ranch in Nebraska, United States.  My specimens have been donated to two different museums and are currently being studied and described by 7 different researchers.  I can tell you that you need an expert mammal researcher to look at your mammal canine for any chance of an ID. Isn't there a researcher/researchers at the museum that you got the matrix from who could look at your specimens and help with some identifications?  Below are links to my posts here on TFF where you can see pictures of some of the micro specimens that I collected.

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/59218-oligocene-terrestrial-micros-from-nebraska/

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/66138-oligocene-micros-from-the-mm-ranch-in-nebraska/

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/66750-terrestrial-micros-from-the-eocene-chadron-formationoligocene-brule-formation-white-river-group-sioux-county-nebraska/&

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/71113-september-2016-trip-to-our-eoceneoligocene-nebraska-ranch/&

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/75305-mammal-squamate-amphibian-and-eggshell-micros-from-the-oligocene-of-nebraska/&tab=comments#comment-793513


 

Marco Sr.

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7 hours ago, MarcoSr said:

Really nice specimens.  I collected in 2015 through 2017 a good number of micro mammal, squamate,  and amphibian specimens from my sons Eocene/Oligocene ranch in Nebraska, United States.  My specimens have been donated to two different museums and are currently being studied and described by 7 different researchers.  I can tell you that you need an expert mammal researcher to look at your mammal canine for any chance of an ID. Isn't there a researcher/researchers at the museum that you got the matrix from who could look at your specimens and help with some identifications?  Below are links to my posts here on TFF where you can see pictures of some of the micro specimens that I collected.

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/59218-oligocene-terrestrial-micros-from-nebraska/

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/66138-oligocene-micros-from-the-mm-ranch-in-nebraska/

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/66750-terrestrial-micros-from-the-eocene-chadron-formationoligocene-brule-formation-white-river-group-sioux-county-nebraska/&

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/71113-september-2016-trip-to-our-eoceneoligocene-nebraska-ranch/&

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/75305-mammal-squamate-amphibian-and-eggshell-micros-from-the-oligocene-of-nebraska/&tab=comments#comment-793513


 

Marco Sr.

Thank you very much, the paleontologists I directly know, are not micromammals experts, but I'll try to ask around

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14 minutes ago, Kiros said:

Thank you very much, the paleontologists I directly know, are not micromammals experts, but I'll try to ask around

 

Micro mammal experts tend to concentrate on certain time periods, families, and/or locations.  The micro mammal experts that I mostly deal with are interested in the Paleocene, Eocene, and Oligocene time periods so I can't recommend any experts for the Pleistocene or Pliocene.

 

Marco Sr.

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I would have never made it through the COVID months without matrix. It’s the best. I work from my house every day with the computer on the right and the microscope on the the left with matrix.

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