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Real or fake Kimberella quadrata from the Verkhovka Formation, White Sea, Russia?


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Hi everyone,

 

This fossil has always bothered me because of the way it felt in terms of weight and the cleanliness of the cut (there looks to have been some stabilizer added from the side, which I guess helps the case for authenticity). I only have one other fossil - what appears to be what was a very commonly sold Nemiana simplex - from a nearby region with a similar geology, and I could very well be wrong because it is indeed quite similar, albeit lighter with a more uniform grain. Since they're both Ediacaran in age and commercially not rare per se, I've always wondered if this Kimberella was legit given a fluctuating price tag that has been quite high in the past but seems to have levelled out in the mid range. 

 

As someone who once taught a diversity of life course, I am an absolute sucker for fossil items that include key moments in history, as well as evolutionary transitions. I've included pictures of the Kimberella in question, as well as a couple of items I place it next to because I'm a giant nerd and I like to imagine that this is the footprint left by some sort of mono- or poly-placophoran ("chitons") 600 million years ago. I wish I had some "smell shelly fauna" or traces left by an Aplacophoran to illustrate the molluscan "root" but alas this is it for now. The orange fossil shell is of a monoplacophoran named Proplina grandis (Gasconade formation, Missouri, Lower Ordovician) - unconcerned about its provenance - and a modern chiton from the Philippines. 

 

I know for a fact this quite popular seller misidentified a fossil fish sold to me as a madagascan coelacanth very, very early in my building of a fossil collection; this is also a reason I'd like to know if the provenance is legitimate; I've been hesitant to deal with them since and passed on many fossils as a result <_< I'd probably only look to add a sea pen-like fossil from the region - unlikely due to the hefty price tag and commercial rarity - but I'd like to learn more about what to look out for nonetheless. As always, thanks for any insights the community might be able to provide! 

 

Cheers

Marcus

 

p.s. And happy fathers day!

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Kimberella1.JPG

Edited by EvolEd
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It looks real to me, thought I'm not infallible on these matters. It's my hunch based on the pics plus the fact that I've not seen fakes of these before (aside from replicas which are obvious - casts in fiberglass/etc usually have a different look about them), plus I'm not sure the trouble it would take to make a convincing replica out of the original matrix (as I've seen from Morocco) would be economical, being one of the more easily obtainable Russian Ediacaran items. That said, I'm still looking for one of those myself but the price is always slightly out of my comfort zone!

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17 hours ago, Wrangellian said:

It looks real to me, thought I'm not infallible on these matters. It's my hunch based on the pics plus the fact that I've not seen fakes of these before (aside from replicas which are obvious - casts in fiberglass/etc usually have a different look about them), plus I'm not sure the trouble it would take to make a convincing replica out of the original matrix (as I've seen from Morocco) would be economical, being one of the more easily obtainable Russian Ediacaran items. That said, I'm still looking for one of those myself but the price is always slightly out of my comfort zone!

Thank you for sharing your insights! I tend to also think it's real. I think what bothers me is that they cut it out so close to the actual fossil haha And I've never seen a perfect square. Like that seems risky! And for some reason, it feels lighter than it should but maybe that's just the unique geology of the region. I've seen them relatively inexpensive recently. :rolleyes:

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10 minutes ago, EvolEd said:

I've seen them for around ...... USD or even slightly lower recently

Would you like to remove the price? Thank you very much!

We are strictly discussing authenticity and quality here, not price.

Thanks again!
Franz Bernhard

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2 hours ago, FranzBernhard said:

Would you like to remove the price? Thank you very much!

We are strictly discussing authenticity and quality here, not price.

Thanks again!
Franz Bernhard

My apologies. Didn't know! Won't happen again!  :rolleyes:

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5 hours ago, EvolEd said:

Thank you for sharing your insights! I tend to also think it's real. I think what bothers me is that they cut it out so close to the actual fossil haha And I've never seen a perfect square. Like that seems risky! And for some reason, it feels lighter than it should but maybe that's just the unique geology of the region. I've seen them relatively inexpensive recently. :rolleyes:

It annoys me too when they trim them so close to the fossil... I like a bit more matrix on my specimens where possible. When I see a piece like that my mind goes to "they're smuggling them out of the country up their hoohahs", but the truth is they probably just don't know any better and want to save on shipping costs.

My pieces seem a little on the light side also, maybe because of porosity or the content high in silica and low in other things.

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Why is the fossil so close to the edge?

@Wrangellian has some good points.

It could also additionally be that the matrix somewhat broke in that way, very near to the fossil? So they made a pleasant specimen out of it? For example, have a look at how many good trilos are sitting at the edge of matrix slabs ;).

Franz Bernhard

Edited by FranzBernhard
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1 hour ago, FranzBernhard said:

Why is the fossil so close to the edge?

@Wrangellian has some good points.

It could also additionally be that the matrix somewhat broke in that way, very near to the fossil? So they made a pleasant specimen out of it? For example, have a look at how many good trilos are sitting at the edge of matrix slabs ;).

Franz Bernhard

That's possible, but if anyone asked me I'd still prefer a specimen near a natural edge than a postage stamp trim job!

I'm glad they didn't trim this one - it must have been very tempting:

 

Anfesta2-shr.jpg

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You could get a very nice stamp out of that one ;).

Yeah, its also a matter of taste.

Franz Bernhard

 

 

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Well in this case I think my taste is simply the right choice! You can't add it back on after you've cut it off. Well, maybe you could if you retain the pieces, but it wouldn't look as good.

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22 hours ago, Wrangellian said:

It annoys me too when they trim them so close to the fossil... I like a bit more matrix on my specimens where possible. When I see a piece like that my mind goes to "they're smuggling them out of the country up their hoohahs", but the truth is they probably just don't know any better and want to save on shipping costs.

My pieces seem a little on the light side also, maybe because of porosity or the content high in silica and low in other things.

Thanks for sharing the same sentiments. I feel better about this specimen now! I have like maybe one other fossil in my collection where I've always been a little suspicious of - a bowfin from Messel given that the process to preserve them involves basically creating a mold - but that's about it. Not bad for the number I have haha :fingerscrossed:

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13 hours ago, FranzBernhard said:

You could get a very nice stamp out of that one ;).

Yeah, its also a matter of taste.

Franz Bernhard

 

 

When you start running out of cabinet space, that's when you'd wish for less matrix :rolleyes:

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1 hour ago, EvolEd said:

When you start running out of cabinet space, that's when you'd wish for less matrix :rolleyes:

I'd either get more storage space or stop collecting fossils before I irrevocably hampered a fossil like that.

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Unless one was worried about future scientific significance, cutting to the quick is fine. 

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5 hours ago, EvolEd said:

When you start running out of cabinet space, that's when you'd wish for less matrix

That´s why so many mineral field collectors only collect micromounts (<2.5 cm x <2.5 cm in size, or lets say <1 inch ;)). At least, they told me so.

 

3 hours ago, Wrangellian said:

I'd either get more storage space or stop collecting fossils before I irrevocably hampered a fossil like that.

Both of that isn´t always possible, especially the second ;). Other way is, to resell or "dump" regional collections to a museum. I have done the second with most of my rudists from St. Bartholomä, about 700 specimens, weighing about 200 kg. Now I am "full" again with stuff from the northern Kainach Gosau. I am pondering to give most of the specimens to the museum again. Problem is, there is no paper in a local journal out yet, as it was for the St. Bartholomä rudists. So I have to stop serious collecting at the moment?

 

3 hours ago, Kane said:

unless one was worried about future scientific significance, cutting to the quick is fine. 

This isn´t always an easy judgement!

 

Franz Bernhard

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7 minutes ago, FranzBernhard said:

This isn´t always an easy judgement!

Right. How does an amateur collector (or commercial field collector) know there won't turn out to be some scientific significance to a fossil that ends up in their hands? Things like these White Sea pieces sometimes have faint impressions or tracks that might not be noticed before it is cut away. If they are going to end up in a museum eventually, I'd prefer to leave it to the professionals to decide whether to cut. And I say this as someone who desperately needs to clear some space!

Edited by Wrangellian
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This makes me happy that finding fossils in Florida usually means they're not in a Matrix. (Except when that matrix happens to be another fossil, like the lemon shark tooth I found inside a hole in a dugong bone the other day). I've as of yet only taken up a small display box and a little plastic drawer unit, plus a couple inches on a shelf for my 2 big fossils. Nowhere near 200kg worth of fossils. Yet, anyway.

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I’m no expert but from coloration, the matrix, and how commonly these are cut into a smaller size I’d say this is real.


Not the most scientific test but… in my experience the matrix from the White Sea is very fine grain and uniformly gray. However, under bright light you can see very very small flecks that sparkle like glitter, where the rock is exposed from being cut. Not very scientific, but if you see little glitters on the underside or sides where it has been cut down to prep the fossil I’d say it’s a good sign.

 

@Wrangellian Is that an Anfesta or Albumares? It’s so hard to tell the difference! 

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Wrangellian
18 hours ago, PR0GRAM said:

 Is that an Anfesta or Albumares? It’s so hard to tell the difference! 

I think it's Anfesta but I stand to be corrected.

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