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The Middle Eocene Allenby Formation.


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#1 palaeopix

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 07:52 PM

The small town of Princeton is located at the confluence of the Similkameen and Tulameen Rivers along Highway 3 in British Columbia's Interior. Mining, Forestry and Tourism all figure prominently in Princeton's history. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the indigenous peoples of the Similkameen Valley mined stone (for tools and weapons) and ochre (for pigment) and traded with surrounding tribes as far away as the Plains. With the arrival of European traders and explorers, other important resources such as gold, platinum, copper and coal were "discovered" and teased from the rivers and mountains. Copper mining still plays an important role in Princeton's economy while gold and platinum can still be found in the area.

The Princeton area is also well known for its Eocene aged lake deposits. Sandstones, paper shales, siliceous shales and cherts occur throughout the region exposed at road cuts, along railway beds and at construction sites. A wide array of exquisitely preserved compression fossils, of both plants and animals, are found in the paper shales and siliceous shales. And the Princeton Chert is world renown for its cellular level preservation of plant structures.

A fabulous collection of local fossils and minerals is housed at the Princeton Museum. Most of the specimens were collected personally by Joe Pollard (deceased) and donated by his wife on the condition the collection not be broken up. Much of Joe's collection still remains in storage, but plans are being made to move the museum to a larger facility so his collection can be properly curated and displayed.

The Allenby Formation gets its name from the small abandoned mining camp/town of Allenby which is located across the Similkameen River from Princeton.

I will be posting photos of typical (and not so typical) fossils found in the Princeton area from the Allenby Formation. Many of the specimens are the result of collecting in the area on and off over the last 15 years.


To start things off I'd like to share a photo of what I believe is Stonebergia columbiana. This is the only specimen I have ever collected but Stonebergia is fairly common at some sites. This specimen is from the Coalmont Road Site.

Attached File  IMG_0255.jpg   109.97KB   72 downloads middle Eocene Allenby Formation. This specimen measures 12.5 cm diagonally.

Enjoy!

Edited by palaeopix, 25 January 2011 - 11:37 PM.


#2 barefootgirl

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 07:54 PM

Wonderful detail and color. :wub:
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#3 piranha

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:07 PM

Looking forward to seeing your beautiful fossils. :bow:
The background you've provided here is superb. :geek:
Thanks for another pleasing plant thread Dan! :thumbsu:

#4 Auspex

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:57 PM

Super report!

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#5 Wrangellian

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 01:58 AM

Nice specimen Dan! I have small twigs of similar flora from McAbee but they pale in comparison.

#6 palaeopix

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 10:33 PM

OK so here is the second installment of fossils from the Allenby Formation.

Without a doubt the most commonly encountered fossil at most (if not all) Allenby Sites, is the conifer Metasequoia occidentalis. Annoyingly, sometimes, it seems like Metasequoia is the only thing found after a day of digging. Makes me wish I had a dollar for every specimen of Metasequoia I ever left in the field!!!!!


Specimens of Metasequoia are normally encountered as single incomplete shoots like the one below.
Attached File  DGBP_0261.jpg   211.95KB   11 downloads This specimen is 62mm in length.


But search long enough and you will be rewarded with bits of branches that have the shoots still attached. Below are three photos of such finds.
Attached File  DGBP_0264.jpg   142.19KB   4 downloadsAttached File  DGBP_0262.jpg   221.98KB   21 downloadsAttached File  DGBP_0192.jpg   229.33KB   7 downloads
From left to right the specimens measure 42mm, 65mm and 150mm total length.


So why is Metasequoia so prolific at most Allenby (and other Eocene macro flora) sites? Well two reasons really. First, Metasequoia was fast growing and able to exploit its habitat. And second, more interestingly, Metasequoia was a deciduous conifer (dropping its mature shoots in the fall)! Below is a photo of such a deciduous shoot.
Attached File  DGBP_0260.jpg   194.83KB   6 downloads This specimen is 45mm in length.


There are several conifers that look similar to Metasequoia, so how does one distinguish them from Metasequoia? The easiest and most accurate way is to look at the needle attachment pattern, Metasequoia's needles attach oppositely! If the needles don't attach oppositely then it's something else! The photo below shows the diagnostic needle attachment pattern for Metasequoia.
Attached File  DGBP_0262.jpg   221.98KB   21 downloads


Being conifers one would expect to find cones, from Metasequoia, and they are preserved in the Allenby Formation but they are not nearly as common as their foliage counterpart! Metasequoia cones can be identified by their long naked stems. The photo below shows a typical Metasequoia cone.
Attached File  0901-Edit.jpg   191.54KB   17 downloads The cone is 14mm in length.


To finish things off, I occasionally find a specimen that defies positive identification because I can not clearly make out the needle attachment pattern. The photo below shows such a specimen.
Attached File  DGBP_0132.jpg   180.74KB   25 downloads This specimen measures 63mm in length.
So is this Metasequoia or something else? I'm not 100% certain, parts look right but then other parts don't fit!


And finally, a bit of trivia! Metesequoia is still with us today! It's a common decorative tree found in many urban areas! Originally it was thought that Metasequoia became extinct during the Miocene but modern examples were found in China during the early 1940's. In fact fossils of Metasequoia were first described in 1941 and only three years later, living forms were discovered, but these were not formally described as a modern species of Metasequoia until 1946!

Edited by palaeopix, 25 January 2011 - 11:39 PM.


#7 palaeopix

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 10:35 PM

Wow,

I used the word Metasequoia 18 times in that post!

Dan


edit: OK, I added another Metasequoia so the number stands at 19!

Edited by palaeopix, 25 January 2011 - 11:42 PM.


#8 piranha

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 10:43 PM

Worthy of coining a new superlative:

Meta-Superbia - Thanks Dan! :fistbump:

#9 palaeopix

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 10:57 PM

Worthy of coining a new superlative:

Meta-Superbia - Thanks Dan! :fistbump:


This is going to take me some time to complete unless I do some serious pruning (forgive the pun)! :wacko:

Edited by palaeopix, 19 January 2011 - 10:58 PM.


#10 jpc

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:42 AM

This is cool. Thanks paleopix. You know, you're gonna make us all want to come up and visit once the snow melts...

Looking forward to more....

#11 Auspex

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 08:52 AM

...To finish things off, I occasionally find a specimen that defies positive identification because I can not clearly make out the needle attachment pattern. The photo below shows such a specimen.
Attached File  DGBP_0132.jpg   180.74KB   25 downloads This specimen measures 52mm in length.
So is this Metasequoia or something else? I'm not 100% certain, parts look right but then other parts don't fit!

It looks like Metasequoia to me, except for the "bunched" nature. I can't tell for sure whether they're attached to the branch, or just laying under it (but suspect the latter); could it be that they were washed together before burial?

"There has been an alarming increase in the number of things I know nothing about."
-Ashleigh Ellwood Brilliant


#12 piranha

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 12:40 PM

To finish things off, I occasionally find a specimen that defies positive identification because I can not clearly make out the needle attachment pattern. So is this Metasequoia or something else? I'm not 100% certain, parts look right but then other parts don't fit!

Looks just like this Cunninghamia sp. LINK
I want one too! Beautiful plants Dan! :thumbsu:

#13 palaeopix

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:16 PM

Looks just like this Cunninghamia sp. LINK
I want one too! Beautiful plants Dan! :thumbsu:


Wow Scott,

that does look pretty close! I'm going to dig the specimen out and have a closer look under a loupe.

Thanks.

#14 palaeopix

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 08:35 PM

Installment Three: Some Conifers from the Allenby Formation.

The last installment covered the most common conifer fossil (Metasequoia) found in the Allenby Formation, while this installment will cover some of the less common conifers found around Princeton!

I've not collected much of this material because it tends to be very small and fragmented, but occasionally a fair sized specimen presents itself and is worth bringing home. Identifying fossil conifer remains is not for the faint of heart and I have on occasion made an incorrect ID. Having said that, I have done my best to narrow down the specimens in this post so don't hold me to some of the IDs. I'm open to suggestions if you have better IDs!


So I'm going to start with Cunninghamia sp. I wasn't aware that I had any specimens of Cunninghamia in my collection, until I posted the following specimen in the last installment.
Attached File  DGBP_0132.jpg   180.74KB   9 downloads The specimen is 63mm in length.
Thanks to piranha (Scott) for his suggestion, that this is Cunninghamia, in the last installment. I did some research and confirmed that this is indeed Cunninghamia!


Here is another example.
Attached File  DGBP_0263.jpg   242.2KB   7 downloads This specimen is 60mm in length.


And here is another specimen with a cone!
Attached File  DGBP_0268.jpg   148.51KB   4 downloads The cone is 20mm in length.


Next up are some specimens from the cedar family. These are notoriously difficult to identify from the fossil record unless the specimens are very well preserved or have attached/associated cones! Unfortunately neither specimen has cones present but I think the IDs are good.
Attached File  DGBP_0267.jpg   159.03KB   4 downloads Chamaecyparis sp. The specimen is 20mm in length.
Attached File  DGBP_0266.jpg   162.23KB   5 downloads Thuja sp. The specimen is also 20mm in length.


And speaking of cones, here are two photographs of coniferous cones from the Princeton area.
Attached File  DGBP_0241.jpg   260.43KB   8 downloads This specimen is 15mm in length.
The ID for this specimen has been troubling in the past, but I now firmly believe it is Sequoia sp. I spent hours looking at photos of the cones from Sequoia and Chamaecyparis and I think this looks more like the former rather than the later.


Attached File  DGBP_0136.jpg   250.88KB   3 downloads This specimen is 11mm in diameter.
Again, I formerly called this Chamaecyparis but it looks more like Sequoia to me as well! This observation is based on specimens I compared on the Paleo Collaborator site.


So what about pines and firs? Both occur in the Allenby Formation but I was unable to locate specimens of needles or branches for this post. One common species of pine has long needles in groups of three. I've not encountered pine or fir cones yet but I know they're out there! Winged seeds from conifers are fairly common but again their identification is often very difficult. Below are two examples from the Princeton area.
Attached File  DGBP_0154.jpg   230.34KB   0 downloads This specimen is 13mm in length.
It has been suggested that this is Pinus sp. but I can not confirm the ID.



Attached File  DGBP_0152.jpg   226.51KB   5 downloads This specimen is 22mm in length.
This appears to be Pseudolarix sp.


Conifers are certainly not the easiest group to collect but hard work and persistence pays off!

Edited by palaeopix, 27 January 2011 - 03:55 PM.


#15 fossisle

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 08:39 PM

Great thread , love the photos
Cephalopods rule!!

#16 palaeopix

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 05:45 PM

It looks like Metasequoia to me, except for the "bunched" nature. I can't tell for sure whether they're attached to the branch, or just laying under it (but suspect the latter); could it be that they were washed together before burial?

Attached File  DGBP_0132.jpg   180.74KB   6 downloads
Yeah for the longest time I would have just called this Metasequoia, but after years of collecting I noticed that it didn't quite fit. At times I've referred to it as Sequoia as well. After Scott's suggestion I decided to look more closely at what the various conifer needles look like. It's very easy to confuse one genus with another similar looking one.

The deciding factors for me were that the needle tips which, according to the Paleo Collaborator site, curve parallel to the branch and the density of needles on a branch which are diagnostic of Cunninghamia.

Edited by palaeopix, 25 January 2011 - 11:46 PM.


#17 palaeopix

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 07:22 PM

The next installment may take some time to complete as I have a fair chunk of research to do before I can ID many of the specimens so stayed tuned for more!

Dan

Edited by palaeopix, 21 January 2011 - 07:22 PM.


#18 pleecan

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:17 PM

Superb finds Dan!
PL

#19 palaeopix

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 11:00 PM

The next installment will cover some of the fossilized deciduous leaves, flowers and seeds found in the Allenby Formation. There's a lot of material to show so this installment will be broken up into four parts. As with previous installments, the next four parts will by no means cover every type of fossil leaf, flower or seed found in the Princeton area. These installments only cover material that I have personally collected or purchased. It would be an immense project to collect and cover all the flora preserved in the Allenby Formation!

Edited by palaeopix, 23 January 2011 - 12:45 AM.


#20 palaeopix

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 01:40 AM

Installment Four (part one): Unlobed Pinnate leaves with smooth leaf margins.

There are just about as many terms that describe various aspects of leaf morphology as there are leaves. This makes identifying fossil leaves particularly frustrating and time consuming. For me the simplest grouping, that I could handle, is the leaf shape; lobed or unlobed. To confuse things more, leaves may be pinnate or palmate and have either smooth or toothed leaf margins. The leaves in this part of installment four are, as the title suggests, unlobed and pinnate with smooth leaf margins!


I'll start off with one that was fairly easy to identify. It's a specimen of Salix sp. (willow).
Attached File  DGBP_0191.jpg   262.37KB   9 downloads Salix sp. This specimen is 74mm in length.


Next is a specimen of Nyssa sp. (black gum).
Attached File  DGBP_0185.jpg   204.83KB   8 downloads Nyssa sp. This specimen is 45mm in length. Note that the tip of the leaf is folded back on itself.


Next is what I believe is Cornus? sp. I arrived at this ID after consulting the PaleoCollaborator (http://www.evolvinge...rator/index.php).
Attached File  DGBP_0193.jpg   214.33KB   3 downloads Cornus? sp. This specimen is 57mm in length.


Up next is another Cornus? sp. This one looks different than the previous entry but never the less it resembles specimens of Cornus? sp. that are found on the PaleoCollaborator site.
Attached File  DGBP_0194.jpg   233.13KB   5 downloads Cornus? sp. This specimen is 67mm in length.


And finally, here are two photos of leaves I could not ID. As I've mentioned before, it's often difficult or impossible to ID most leaves found around Princeton and these two stumped me and the PaleoCollaborator!!
Attached File  DGBP_0271.jpg   150.52KB   10 downloads This specimen is 75mm in length. It's incomplete but was still worth collecting because of it's size!


Attached File  DGBP_0272.jpg   194.91KB   9 downloads This specimen is 43mm in length.


Again I'd like to stress that this collection of leaves is by no means complete. I suspect there are numerous other leaves, with smooth margins, to be found in the Allenby Formation. I just haven't collected them yet!


The next installment will cover unlobed leaves with toothed margins.

Edited by palaeopix, 25 January 2011 - 11:52 PM.





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