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North Sulfur River 9/12 - Tylosaur Jr. andthe Kingdom ofthe Wild Hogs


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Metafossical

 

 

My last fossil hunt was May 23, so it had been a while.  I was hopeful that with all the time, some fossils might show, but I never think I’m gonna find em’.

 

Monday (9/12) was shapin’ up to be a perfect day. High temp of 84 degrees, dew point and relative humidity in the 40s with a slight southern breeze  . . .  nice. River height less than one foot.   If the weather held, I was goin in. 

 

Fossil huntin’ isn’t “fun” for me.  It’s a mission. It’s remote.  It’s a long hike in and a long hike out.  I train for it. I hike several days a week. The training is mission critical and gives me confidence I can cover the ground with a  heavy pack.  Safety is my main concern, I wanna get in and out of there in one piece.

 

The weather is holding, so I’m goin’ in.  I gear up, fuel up, leave the next morning at dark-thirty and arrive at Checkpoint Charlie at sunrise. I shake down the gear, take a compass bearing and set out for the ridge line. This ain’t no game.  I’m ready for it.

 

It had been a while and the biota was overgrown, waist high grass, deep thicket.   I had flagged the way in on a previous mission,  so when I got through the initial thicket and saw the tape, I was in business.  The flagging sped up the hike.  Before long, I was at the creek bank. I had traversed this drop-in many times, but I take nothing for granted;  every step is an important one.  I touched down on the creek bed.

 

I paused and looked around.  Dropped all the gear.  Took a long swaggle of water. I tightened the belt, righted the gear, geared back up and set forth down the creek. It was good to be back with the silence and the raptors.   I thought, after all this time, no one has found “Spooky Creek.”  I figure they’ll find it soon enough. 

 

The creek bed was covered with dirt, in some places dry caked mud. It was dry for the most part,  making it easier to cover the ground. Along with the dirt and mud, early fall leaves sparsely covered the bed making it tricky to see any fossils.  I thought, this ain’t gonna be easy. 

 

 

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I see wild hog tracks everywhere.  I could see where they were wallowing in the mud. Spooky Creek had become their playground. I’d crossed paths with these beasts on a few occasions, they represent a chief safety concern. I see an old creek bank slump, another major safety concern.  I found it disconcerting to see the hog tracks and the slump side by side.

 

 

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I kept on. The further I went the deeper the dirt.  I thought about it  . . .   and reasoned there had been just enough rain to deposit, but not enuf rain to wash the sediment away.  It never crossed my mind.  I kept on. The fossils were scarce.  I passed fossil wood, fossil oysters and I collected a nice little ammonite frag and a large baculite.  I knew I was in a fossil rich environment, I knew they were there, but they were covered by sediment and cloaked by the leaves of early fall. 

 

 

 

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I kept on. I found a fossil I thought might be a Tylosaur humeri – wasn’t for sure.  I don’t remember picking it up.  I do remember taking a look at it, saw it had a familiar morphology and I remember tucking it away deep in the pouch.

 

I got to the end of the creek and sat down in the shade to eat lunch.  It was good to be back with the silence.   I considered my options. I figured I’ll come back after a couple good rains, no doubt I’ll have better luck. I, told self  . . .  “you’ve had a good run here, you’ve found a lot of fossils and you’ve learned what it sought to teach you.   The hogs, they own that creek now, that’s their kingdom; it ain’t safe  . . .   time to let this fossil huntin’ thing go and find a new adventure.”

 

The next day, while hosin’ off the gear, I saw a fossil tucked away in the pouch.  I’d  forgotten all about it.  I dug it out.  When I got back to the desk, I looked at it under magnification; indeed a fossil.  I compared it to the first Tylosaur humeri;  indeed a Tylosaur humeri.  I thought what luck  . . .  again.  It was slightly smaller and not as robust as the first humeri with a different color and density.  I call it Tylosaur Junior.  Attached are some pics.

 

 

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Edited by Metafossical
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The time we spend in places like this often cannot be adequately described.  :dinothumb:

 

Unfortunately, neither of these pieces are Tylosaur humeri...:shakehead:

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Metafossical
10 minutes ago, JohnJ said:

The time we spend in places like this often cannot be adequately described.  :dinothumb:

 

Unfortunately, neither of these pieces are Tylosaur humeri...:shakehead:

 

Prove it  . . .

 

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2 minutes ago, Metafossical said:

 

Prove it  . . .

 

 

:D

When you assert something, the onus is on you to demonstrate your assertion.  You stated what you think they are.  

 

I challenged that ID in your previous topic I linked above.  I think your conclusion is based on poor 2D images and mistakenly labeled photos.  I'll stand by my previous remarks and my experience handling many mosasaur bones.

 

@pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

 

 

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Metafossical
28 minutes ago, JohnJ said:

 

:D

When you assert something, the onus is on you to demonstrate your assertion.  You stated what you think they are.  

 

I challenged that ID in your previous topic I linked above.  I think your conclusion is based on poor 2D images and mistakenly labeled photos.  I'll stand by my previous remarks and my experience handling many mosasaur bones.

 

@pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

 

 

 

 

Here is what Dale A. Russell wrote in his Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs regarding the humerus of Tylosaurus:

 

The humerus of Tylosaurus is very long and slender and, compared to most other forms, only slightly expanded at the ends.  The postglenoid process is small and indistinguishable from the glenoid condyle.  All of these surfaces were finished in cartilage in life.  On the distal end of the humerus the radial tuberosity is absent, the radial and ulnar facets are indistinct and were also finished in cartilage, and the ulnar tuberosity is very small. 

~

Please provide evidence that it is not a Tylosaur humeri.  And should you find the time, please reread the last sentence you wrote in the linked post. 

 

 

Edited by Metafossical
Included more info on Russell's Systematics
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3 minutes ago, Metafossical said:

Please provide evidence that it is not a Tylosaur humeri.  And should you find the time, please reread the last sentence you wrote in the linked post. 

 

Respectfully, you have this backwards.  You made the assertion they are Tylosaur humeri and you have not made a plausible case.  The ball is in your court to demonstrate you are correct.  ;)

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Metafossical
2 minutes ago, JohnJ said:

 

Respectfully, you have this backwards.  You made the assertion they are Tylosaur humeri and you have not made a plausible case.  The ball is in your court to demonstrate you are correct.  ;)

 

Respectfully,

 

Let me try this again. 

 

Please respond to the evidence posted below. 

 

Here is what Dale A. Russell wrote in his Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs regarding the humerus of Tylosaurus:

 

The humerus of Tylosaurus is very long and slender and, compared to most other forms, only slightly expanded at the ends.  The postglenoid process is small and indistinguishable from the glenoid condyle.  All of these surfaces were finished in cartilage in life.  On the distal end of the humerus the radial tuberosity is absent, the radial and ulnar facets are indistinct and were also finished in cartilage, and the ulnar tuberosity is very small. 

 

 

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Just now, Metafossical said:

Please respond to the evidence posted below. 

 

Here is what Dale A. Russell wrote in his Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs regarding the humerus of Tylosaurus:

 

:dinothumb:

I like Russell's descriptions.  I use them often.  I may have been the first person to reference his work on TFF and have continued to for years.

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Metafossical
12 minutes ago, JohnJ said:

 

:dinothumb:

I like Russell's descriptions.  I use them often.  I may have been the first person to reference his work on TFF and have continued to for years.

 

I have provided evidence to support my position; you have provided none.

 

Consider this a teachable moment.

 

Enuf said. 

 

 

 

Edited by Metafossical
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14 minutes ago, Metafossical said:

 

I have provided evidence to support my position; you have provided none.

 

Enuf said. 

 

 

 

 

Citing Russell's description is not evidence your identification is correct.  

 

Your pieces exhibit heavy erosion and some breakage.  I think they only have a shallow similarity to the shape of a Tylosaur humerus.  

 

Russell's figures:

IMG_20220817_164346275_HDR.jpg

 

IMG_20220817_164530334.jpg

 

As I mentioned in the linked post, the humerus is robust enough to retain morphological features that would identify it.  Yours do not have those features.  If they did, I would be among the first to congratulate you. 

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DPS Ammonite
12 minutes ago, Metafossical said:

 

I have provided evidence to support my position; you have provided none.

 

Enuf said. 

 

 

 


How about some close up photos that clearly show the cancellous bone structure. Show some labeled photos from the source that you have. Point out similar features on your pieces. Build your case with pictures and diagrams. 

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FossilNerd
1 hour ago, Metafossical said:

I have provided evidence to support my position


You have provided no evidence. Posting a description of what you think the specimen is proves nothing. You could post a description of a random brachiopod and provide the same amount of evidence. Which is to say, none.
 

What would be a better approach is if you can point out how your provided description matches what you have found. ;) 
 

@JohnJ has years of experience hunting in your area, and has graciously posted diagrams to compare your specimen to. In this post and the linked post. I trust his judgment, and although he didn’t have to, feel that he has adequately proved his point by the provided diagrams. 
 

Personally, I see no part of your specimen that matches your posted description or the comparison pictures posted by John. Honestly, I’m not even sure the piece is bone from the provided pictures, but if it indeed is, it looks too eroded and weathered to give a definitive identification.  What we affectionately call a “Chunk-o-sarus”. That is to say, an indeterminate chunk of fossilized bone.

 

That being said, no one is infallible. If you can actually provide evidence by showing how your description matches your specimen I would be inclined to change my mind. :) 
 

PS… I really like your piece of ammonite. Nice coloration. I’m also glad the wild hogs didn’t get you. They can be vicious.

Edited by FossilNerd
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I've been a real pistol at times here in the past and dont have much in the way of communication skills but this guy has got me beat.  Easily.  

 

RB

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Brandy Cole

The lighter colored 'humeri' resembles petrified wood to me.  It appears to have some conchoidal fractures, so it could just be chert, but when I look closely at the texture, it appears to show lines of wood grain in a few places.

 

I agree with @DPS Ammonite that detailed photos of texture would be helpful.  It resembles petrified wood a lot more than cancellous bone to me.

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2 hours ago, Brandy Cole said:

it appears to show lines of wood grain in a few places

 

Cretaceous turtle bone can look similar.  

IMG_20220921_093743347.jpg

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FossilDAWG

We all know from experience how frustrating it can be to find out our exciting discovery is not what we thought.  It's all part of the learning process, as long as one is willing to listen to others with more experience.  I too do not see anything that looks like an identifiable mosasaur bone of any flavor in your two specimens.  On the other hand I would have been quite happy to find the Trachyscaphites and Baculites you showed.

 

Don

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pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

The two pieces you show, the supposed humeri, don't have the correct form for a mosasaur humerus, which typically has the shape of a flattened cylinder with a thickened ridge running over it. Sure, the top and or bottom of the bone may flare out a bit more from one genus to the next, but the general shape definition is true for all types of mosasaur. Your pieces are too evenly thick and don't match the overall shapes shown in the diagrams @JohnJ posted. In fact, I, too, am not sure whether they are bone, as to me the buff coloured rock looked most to be fossil wood - but may not even be that. Shape-wise, they're closest to mosasaur pelvic bones, although for that they are, again, too evenly thick and lack obvious signs of being bone.

 

Below I've posted some examples of mosasaur paddles and paddle bones to give you an impression of how such bones are supposed to look.

 

1907055825_RightforelimbofMosasaurushobetsuensisHokkaidoJapan.jpg.6fb553a7d20711169c14b5bb8435f68b.jpg

Mosasaurus hobetsuensis front limb with the humerus center right, to the left of the two rightmost bones (source).

 

529879257_AnnotatedMosasaurusfrontpaddle.jpg.f2ec24da7930c5f70ca57cd5da699355.jpg

Annotated Mosasaurus sp. front paddle (source).

 

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Humerus of an unidentified Moroccan mosasaur of a paddle I've started prepping some time back.

 

 

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Mosasaurus hoffmannii paddles at the Museum voor Natuurwetenschappen in Brussels. The humeri (I believe these are front paddles) can be seen as the topmost pair of flaring bones.

 

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Unfortunately, I don't have any photographs of a Tylosaurus sp. paddle, but I do have one of a closely related Hainosaurus, H. bernardi. Humerus to the left. Also at the Museum voor Natuurwetenschappen in Brussels.

 

Hopefully, this helps you get familiarized with the shape-variation that occurs in mosasaur paddle bones, as well as recognize the texture you'd expect to see on them.

 

In addition, here's an old thread of mine in which I was also convinced I had found a marine reptile bone, but had to face the reality of this not actually being the case. Just to show you that sometimes what we believe to be our best finds may not entirely be what we think them to be:

 

 

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Brandy Cole
2 hours ago, pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon said:

sometimes what we believe to be our best finds may not entirely be what we think them to be:

Truer words never spoken.  The upside is that I have probably ultimately learned more from those incorrect initial ID's than the ones I get right, and I like to think that most of us have been in that position.

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Metafossical

 

Thanks for all the kind words, I appreciate it.  Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.

 

 

Dale A. Russell wrote the following in his Systematics and Morphology of American Mosasaurs:

The humerus of Tylosaurus is very long and slender and, compared to most other forms, only slightly expanded at the ends.  The postglenoid process is small and indistinguishable from the glenoid condyle.  All of these surfaces were finished in cartilage in life.  On the distal end of the humerus the radial tuberosity is absent, the radial and ulnar facets are indistinct and were also finished in cartilage, and the ulnar tuberosity is very small.

 

For your perusal, I’ve outlined the features described by Russell.

  1. Tylosaur humeri is very long and slender
  2. Tylosaur humeri is, compared to most other forms, only slightly expanded at the ends
  3. Tylosaur humeri postglenoid process is small
  4. Tylosaur humeri postglenoid process is indistinguishable from glenoid condyle
  5. Tylosaur humeri distal radial tuberosity is absent
  6. Tylosaur humeri radial facet is indistinct
  7. Tylosaur humeri ulnar facet is indistinct
  8. Tylosaur humeri ulnar tuberosity is very small

 

 

All of the features described by Russell are found in the fossils. 

  • I've provided per request additional pictures of Jr.
  • I've provided brief medical terminology definitions below
  • I've provided a human Anatomy and Physiology visual reference link (link is inoperable) 
  • You, must associate the terms with that particular area of the fossil; do the work (it's mind numbingly fun!).

 

I want to thank those members whose posts demonstrate that this is a scientific forum, not a popularity contest.

 

I rest my case.

 

~

 

Definitions   

 

  • Condyle - a rounded prominence at the end of a bone, most often for articulation with another bone
  • Facet - a small smooth area on a bone or other firm structure
  • Glenoid - resembling a pit or socket
  • Lateral - denoting a position farther from the median plane or midline of the body, pertaining to a side
  • Medial - pertaining to or situated toward the midline
  • Postglenoid - situated behind the glenoid fossa of the temporal bone
  • Process - a prominence or projection, as from a bone
  • Radial - pertaining to the radial (lateral) aspect as opposed to the ulnar (medial) aspect
  • Tuberosity - an elevation or protuberance, especially one on a bone where a muscle is attached
  • Ulnar - pertaining to the ulna or to the ulnar (medial) aspect of the upper limb as compared to the radial (lateral)                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

 

 

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Edited by Metafossical
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1 hour ago, Metafossical said:

I want to thank those members whose posts demonstrate that this is a scientific forum, not a popularity contest.

 

Not sure what you mean by this.  Facts and good evidence educate all of us.

 

Still, if you are confident in your identification, run the photos by Mike Polcyn at SMU and see if he concurs.  I'm sure members here would enjoy hearing his opinion.

 

Your latest photos are much better.  The bone texture reminds me of the turtle pieces I posted previously.

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pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon
7 hours ago, Metafossical said:

it's mind numbingly fun!

 

I'm glad you're having fun identifying your fossils - that's what it should be about in the end ;) But following proper scientific method, in order to demonstrate something is what it is, you should be the one to associate the anatomical labels with your specimens. Only this way will you be able to illustrate how you're looking at the fossil, rather than asking for an indiscriminate amount of undiscerned interpretations. Thing is, you might find it obvious how each of the anatomical features is laid out on your specimens, but the great amount of counterarguments made shows that this is certainly not the case for most people here. You must therefore elucidate those that you're trying to convince by putting forward a hypothesis or theory that others can then evaluate and provide feedback on. That's the way science works. Not by stating that it's obvious you'd interpret something in a certain way - because in science, even such basic facts need to be supported.

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Brandy Cole

Haha, @JohnJ, I was about to say the clearer photos made me more convinced it was petrified wood! Several of the pictures now really look like woodgrain to me, but I've also never seen cretaceous turtle in real life, so maybe my lack of experience with that gives me a blindspot. :)

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ThePhysicist
8 hours ago, JohnJ said:

Your latest photos are much better.  The bone texture reminds me of the turtle pieces I posted previously.

With the new photos, I'm seeing pet wood rather than bone. In the examples you posted, the "grain" is not parallel, where in the object in question, it is. 

 

Putting aside the argument over the general morphology for the moment, @Metafossical can you show us any features that demonstrate this is bone? I'd be satisfied with 1. Trabecular structure (can be visible on broken surfaces or on the condyle ends when worn), and/or 2. Haversian systems (present in cortical/outer bone, will need a microscope or something to see).  

 

Here are examples of those bone features from NSR for the sake of comparison

 

Turtle shell (?) - clear porosity/trabecular structure on a broken surface, roughly uniform thickness

 

IMG_0083.thumb.jpeg.64323db426f2cfc52604a63095ecd43e.jpeg

 

Small mosasaur verts with some weathering, the interior trabecular structure is plainly visible (on all surfaces)

 

IMG_1965.thumb.jpeg.d6d68e6f3367abf21f37416de8c0fc56.jpeg

 

Unbroken surface features:

 

IMG_0856.thumb.jpeg.efcb4a01d377ce02021bc756439e7d5e.jpeg

 

When slightly worn, Haversian systems can be visible (appear as "rings" around the canals):

 

IMG_3185.thumb.jpeg.4b6e544d7e29e02b512d6fbc5f571d12.jpeg

 

Broken, interior structure (can have crystalline infilling):

 

IMG_3180.thumb.jpeg.220423e290409a14d0330669baa1a236.jpeg

 

IMG_0858.thumb.jpeg.070f501b1316a07106ac5e940ce09078.jpeg

 

 

IMG_3615.thumb.jpg.202c2f728349c314c119166bff9ccfd2.jpg

 

Edited by ThePhysicist
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Cretaceous turtle bone from Oceans of Kansas.  

 

Link

 

LINK

 

link

 

An eroded, calcareous encrusted chunk of turtle bone could look similar to wood.

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Brandy Cole

To put my money where my mouth is, I'll show why it best resembles petrified wood to me.

Pic 1: One of my larger chunks of petrified wood.

Pic 2: My sample with a close-up of fine longitudinal grain.

Pic 3: @Metafossical's sample with a close-up of the fine longitudinal grain.

Pic 4: My sample's endgrain. 

Pic 5: His sample's endgrain. (Without the signs of osteoporosity I'd expect with worn bone).

Pic 6: My sample with small, scattered conchoidal fractures.

Pic 7: His sample with small, scattered conchoidal fractures.

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