Jump to content
Ray Eklund

Fossil Detective Process

Recommended Posts

Coco

Congrats ! I think that this subject should be pinned !

Coco

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Herb

Well said!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
erose

Ray, Nicely said and hopefully helpful to all our newbies and visitors. And Rich has added a very important point about what to expect and how to behave on the forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JohnJ

Congrats ! I think that this subject should be pinned !

Coco

I thought the same, Coco, but my steaks were about to burn on the grill... :D

Well said, Ray. It will go nicely with the other pinned topics. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ray Eklund

I thought the same, Coco, but my steaks were about to burn on the grill... :D

Well said, Ray. It will go nicely with the other pinned topics. ;)

You are being too generous in my attempt to those members with an "unknown" by providing some difficult requests of information needed to identify a fossil found by a Forum member. I will attempt to clean up my language used in my first post, some to edit the message, and also adding what I consider other important details that help in all of the finds by members that stretch the imagination .

Fossil Identification is both an ART and a factor of EXPERIENCE. Both are skills fine tuned with field work and there is no experienced Forum member who wants to have a question to go unanswered. RichW9090 understands, just like Herb, and that is the point that some unknowns need to be recognized by the right person at the right time.

Edited by Ray Eklund

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ray Eklund

I was making some unsolicited comments on another Topic and it made some sense to me to add it onto this Topic.

I find it very important to understand the language of the Professional Paleontologist and Geologist. The terminology can give a layman, like myself, detailed directions to understand Where, When, What and Why this fossil exists.

The finding of a fossil is no different than picking up a plastic bag stuck on a barbed wire fence. It is an object that might appear to be out of place... but this was its home. You must ask ourselves the four W's. Where, When, What and Why.

Where: The Geographic Location. Inlier. Outlier. Facies. How do you know where? It is WHERE you are presently standing.

When: The Geological Period. The Formation. The Sedimentology- limestone, shale, sandstone, coal seam, concretions in a shale.

What: Invertebrate. Plant. Vertebrate. Trace Fossil. Unknown. Is this fossil segmented? Does it resemble anything living today? What kind of other fossils are found with this unidentified fossil. Was it found in an area disturbed by construction? Could it possible been brought into the area by glacial activity? You must question before you can understand. By this time you would be ready to ask fellow Forum members to identify your find.

Why: Why is this found at this place? Is is unusual when compared to what is usually found? Is the color different? Why did this catch your attention? Was is loose or cemented onto matrix? Do the fossils at this site appear to be dismembered and scattered, or complete and isolated? You must question WHY this was found the way it laid and make some judgement if it washed from a higher formation or is it from the formation you found and collected the specimen. It is important in the process of identification.

I have always realized that when I found or uncovered a fossil... this was where it had died. I cannot imagine what an Anthropologist is thinking when a Hominid is discovered, a direct relative to modern Humans, and apply the 4 W's and wonder what the last thoughts may have been. These finds are carefully document just because the Fossil cannot speak to you... but the conditions and environment the fossil was found... speaks through the terminology of a geologist, paleontologist or anthropologist. These terms create new ideas and debates within the scientific community. All are positive. All!

The conditions had to be favorable to preserve a soft bodied tissue and more flexible when it is a hard thick shell of a brachiopod or cephalopod. Once you remove a fossil from the discovery, all of this information is lost, unless you take some notes and make some observations. Just trying to understand why this trilobite died at this spot, or a fossil mammal skull in the Oligocene Badlands is found... with no skeleton attached... questions come up. By understanding the 4 W's... you can apply this information in your future searches. More discoveries.

The 4 W's are something I just made up. By understanding these questions, you will develop a structured process to identify what you have discovered or, at least, be able to present the conditions of your find to those who might be able to help.

No fossil "just happened to be". There are reasons for its demise. IT IS YOUR JOB TO UNDERSTAND to the best of your ability.

100,000,000 years from now, 2014 will be found in a deeply buried sedimentary rock, capped with volcanics. A discovery will be made and these questions will come into the minds of the curious explorers. You could be one of the many specimens to be recovered. Now you can add WHO to the 4 W's, but I hope you understand that no matter how small or insignificant a fossil may appear to you...it could be very important to the understanding on why we are here today and what forces made this possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
oldrocker

Thank you, very helpful. I am posting my first find today. Hope I do it right! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
James_S

Seriously people would go all snarky for you if what you said was not what they expected? Like (taking an example from OP) they thought it must have been a turtle and you cleared and proved it was not? My gosh, that's so impolite! You;re doing something for free, in your spare time and some would complain about it instead of saying thanks I appreciate it? People are so ungrateful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Auspex

People are also human, in all their glory and for better or worse. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Uncle Siphuncle

Haven't seen much input from Ray lately...hope he resurrects himself here. I enjoyed his perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ray Eklund

Haven't seen much input from Ray lately...hope he resurrects himself here. I enjoyed his perspective.

I had been "politely" asked not to participate on the Fossil Forum by bringing up Evolution, creating a sequence of fossils found in sedimentary rocks, and I was also expressing myself too... whatever. I told the Administrators of the forum that I would voluntarily remove myself and no longer participate. They may want to post their Private Messages sent to me.

Since when is a Fossil Forum anti Evolution? Some people complained bringing up the subject was not appropriate. Then... it spiraled into a personal vendetta by three or four Administrators "voting" me off the Forum.

I said it was their Forum, and they can make their own rules. I will not change my position on Evolution... even if some forum members believe it violates their religious beliefs. So, until I received a notice from danwoehr wondering why I have no longer added any input, you now know the rest of the story.

I took their complaints towards me personally. I am a geologist. Not a preacher or religious pundit. Paleontology is a science, not a belief. It disappointed me that a Fossil Forum had a political agenda, against fossils and evolution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tmaier

I sympathize with your situation, Ray. I don't see how the two subject can be disassociated.

BUT... I can tell you that if the forum started to attract the anti-evolution fanatics, I would leave, and I think most of the good people would go into hiding. I've seen it happen on the old usenet groups; it becomes a vigorous debate that devolves into name calling and insults and the only people who continue to contribute are the the least knowledgeable and people you least want to hear from.

There's no safe place on the web for academic discussion on the subject.

It is nicely quiet and productive on this site, just for the fossils. It also encourages people to learn more and get off the couch and enjoy nature. I just take it as that.. a good thing that is necessarily limited in scope. I used to have the largest fossil education site on the web, and it included some mention of evolution. I had to remove my email address and leave it as a "view-only" site because I was bombarded by hostile lunatics. I wouldn't want that to happen to this site. It is quite lovely here... peaceful... friendly... censored... :D

Edited by tmaier

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Auspex

I had been "politely" asked not to participate on the Fossil Forum by bringing up Evolution, creating a sequence of fossils found in sedimentary rocks, and I was also expressing myself too... whatever. I told the Administrators of the forum that I would voluntarily remove myself and no longer participate. They may want to post their Private Messages sent to me.

Since when is a Fossil Forum anti Evolution? Some people complained bringing up the subject was not appropriate. Then... it spiraled into a personal vendetta by three or four Administrators "voting" me off the Forum.

I said it was their Forum, and they can make their own rules. I will not change my position on Evolution... even if some forum members believe it violates their religious beliefs. So, until I received a notice from danwoehr wondering why I have no longer added any input, you now know the rest of the story.

I took their complaints towards me personally. I am a geologist. Not a preacher or religious pundit. Paleontology is a science, not a belief. It disappointed me that a Fossil Forum had a political agenda, against fossils and evolution.

You were asked, politely and repeatedly, not to intentionally stir up gratuitous controversy. The topics in question were removed, and will remain so, so I cannot and will not cite examples. That you withdrew from the Forum was your choice, so do not make it sound else wise.

This response of yours is another example of your trollish penchant to stir the pot and foster drama. We get our excitement here by sharing a fascination with fossils; politics have no role nor place on these boards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fossildude19

I don't think "Censored" is the word I would use.

Appropriately moderated is what I would say.

We need to be tolerant of people's views, to prevent/avoid all of the mud slinging, and try not to foist our views upon others.

What does it matter if someone believes their Devonian aged fossil is only 6000 years old? I try not to let the views of others influence my views.

Not my purview to correct or inform in that manner.

The ignore button is one of my favorite tools here. If someone writes something that I disagree with, or continuously posts pseudo fossils rather than real fossils, ... I just ignore that user, and I don't have to see their posts.

I am here to share my fossil finds, and enjoy other's finds as well, ... not to lecture, or invoke my beliefs on others. I can share and enjoy without crossing into the evolution debate, and opening that can of worms..

And if I find my experience becoming less enjoyable due to content, (or lack, thereof) I can choose to ignore it.

Keep calm, and post cool fossil photos. post-2806-0-46588300-1412011788.png post-2806-0-07904300-1412011810.png

Regards,

EDIT: To add link - Moderation vs Censorship.

I guess I just don't like the negative connotation of Censorship. :P:blush::rolleyes:

Edited by Fossildude19

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tmaier

"Moderated" implies "censored", and I like it this way, even if it does restrict the conversation. I've just seen too much damage when things are allowed to go too far.

talk.origins and other old usenet feeds still allow that stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JohnJ

I had been "politely" asked not to participate on the Fossil Forum by bringing up Evolution, creating a sequence of fossils found in sedimentary rocks, and I was also expressing myself too... whatever. I told the Administrators of the forum that I would voluntarily remove myself and no longer participate. They may want to post their Private Messages sent to me.

Since when is a Fossil Forum anti Evolution? Some people complained bringing up the subject was not appropriate. Then... it spiraled into a personal vendetta by three or four Administrators "voting" me off the Forum.

I said it was their Forum, and they can make their own rules. I will not change my position on Evolution... even if some forum members believe it violates their religious beliefs. So, until I received a notice from danwoehr wondering why I have no longer added any input, you now know the rest of the story.

I took their complaints towards me personally. I am a geologist. Not a preacher or religious pundit. Paleontology is a science, not a belief. It disappointed me that a Fossil Forum had a political agenda, against fossils and evolution.

The 'strawmen' you set up and knocked down with your mischaracterization of events and inaccurate remarks were not necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jpc

Haven't seen much input from Ray lately...hope he resurrects himself here. I enjoyed his perspective.

I agree with dan... And hey I think this is an excellent venue for discussing evolution in all it's grandeur... After all, we are fascinated by some of the most powerful evidence for evolution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RichW9090

Is Ray actually claiming that posts espousing evolution were discouraged from this Forum? I find that hard to believe. Every post I make is rooted in evolution, even if it isn't explicit.

Am I missing something here?

Rich

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
minnbuckeye

A recent fossil hunting trip took me into Amish country. There was a beautiful rock outcrop out in a pasture. Upon asking the landowner of Amish belief if it would be OK to check his rocks for interesting fossils, he replied "what is a fossil?" After a short explanation, I was granted permission and off I went. Less than 5 minutes into my exploration, I spotted a beautiful 12 inch by 2 inch cephalopod which was immediately taken back to the landowner to present as a gift to him and his 9 children, which by the way were all huddled around when I was explaining what a fossil was. The family was in awe as I explained the creature which once inhabited this shell. One of the children asked me how old the cephalopod was, to which I answered four times as old as the dinosaurs! At this point, everyone was having a great time in good discussion. But then another inquisitive child asked specifically how long ago was that, to which I said 450 million years ago. All at once the father's eyes lost their twinkle and the smile disappeared from his face, as he boldly said NO ITS NOT!!! I realized immediately what I had said offended the Amish's religious beliefs so I immediately qualified my statement by saying to the children that some people believe 450 million years and some believe one thousand years. No matter which you believe, this fossil is very old. I then gazed up at the father's face and immediately knew things were now OK. Talk continued and fun was had by all.

This is an example of two parties with vastly different beliefs ending up enjoying each others company and the fossils that were found. There is a lesson in this story for some of those that have recently posted here. We of different beliefs can get along if we just try!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tmaier

I had some friends who were creationists, and I had to hide my fossils when they came visiting. They found them very disturbing. :D

Down here in the southeast of the US the vast majority are religious conservatives, so evolution is a forbidden topic.

Sometimes it is better to go with the flow and have some peace, as long as nobody is getting hurt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Auspex

I agree with dan... And hey I think this is an excellent venue for discussing evolution in all it's grandeur... After all, we are fascinated by some of the most powerful evidence for evolution.

As long as it is done without belittling someone else for their beliefs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tmaier

As I mentioned, people who enjoy the mud slinging can still find talk.origins for intense debate, if that is what turns them on.

http://www.google.com/search?q=talk.origins&btnG=Search&hl=en&gbv=1

I find it insulting and pointless.

talk.origins started because these debates where happening in the sci newsgroups and it was like a roving band of ill behaved barbarians who would crash our sci.paleontology and sci.physics and sci.biology and sci.chemistry threads and ruin them. So, this talk.origins site was created as a playground to get them out and allow them their own place. But... they would still often cross link into our groups and come crashing through the threads like a drunken party. They really trashed sci.paleontology and scared the good people away. :(

Edited by tmaier

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Uncle Siphuncle

my view on the origin of fossils is a hybridization along the lines of "divine evolution". i'm a christian guy who examines physical evidence of fossils in a hands on fashion. i don't get hung up on young earth theory. i don't see evidence of fossils as a test of faith. no one will shake my beliefs, nor do i seek to change theirs. the forum is cool because i don't see much excoriation from either camp. in the meantime, i think we can all agree that fossils sure look cool in my house!

i stand by my previous comments. i've enjoyed ray's perspective and input in what i've read, and hope he feels comfortable contributing going forward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×