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Utah Fossil Conundrum


mdpaulhus

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After many years in Europe where I found the collecting more difficult, I am finally back in the U.S. and have taken my first long collecting trip in years. 

 

I was recently collecting in Idaho, Wyoming and Utah and found a few fossils (I think) that have me stumped at the moment.  The first is from Wheeler Shale at the Swasey Springs site and I am not sure what it is at all.  The area shown in photo is about 2 inches across.  The second is from Marjum Formation at Sponge Gully.  This is about 4 inches tall.  At first I thought "well perhaps it is a sponge", but I have not really been able to find pictures of anything like this.  

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I also found this at Swasey Springs site.  It is a sponge spicule that is sued to attach the sponge to the sea floor.  This is about 1/2 inch across.   I think it is interesting as I have never seen one before.

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Very interesting specimens! I've never been to Sponge gully but that second specimen does look like a sponge to me. The first picture is maybe Algae? That is what someone told me after I found similar specimens.

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Perplexing! I think Dave is on the money with the 2nd pic idea as it most likely being a sponge of some sort. The third pic is obviously a fossilized Microsoft XBox :P

 

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This one looks vaguely similar to: Valospongia gigantis

 

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The spicule appears to be: Hintzespongia bilamina or Protospongia hicksi
You should send the photos to Richard Robison for a detailed evaluation.
LINK

 

Rigby, J. K. (1966)
Protospongia hicksi Hinde from the Middle Cambrian of western Utah. 
Journal of Paleontology, 40(3):549-554

 


Rigby, J. K. (1983)
Sponges of the Middle Cambrian Marjum Limestone from the House Range and Drum Mountains of western Millard County, Utah. 
Journal of Paleontology, 57(2):240-270

 

 

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I think, piranha is on the right track. Also, a good accompanying document could be : First post-Cambrian records of the reticulosan sponges Valospongia and Hintzespongia from the late Tremadocian of North Wales - JOSEPH P. BOTTING, LUCY A. MUIR.pdf
Botting, J.P. and Muir, L.A. 2014.
First post-Cambrian records of the reticulosan sponges Valospongia and Hintzespongia from the late Tremadocian of North Wales.
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 59 (1): 241–252.

 

First post-Cambrian records of the reticulosan sponges Valospongia and Hintzespongia from the late Tremadocian of North Wales - JOSEPH P. BOTTING, LUCY A. MUIR.jpg

 

 

 

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Thanks to everyone for the papers and comments.  Just guidance in the right direction is really helpful.  

 

I did try sending a note to Richard Robison at KU but the note came back undeliverable when using the link email address.  Perhaps he is happily retired!

 

Been doing some more work on the first photo that shamalama suggested might be algae.  I think this is good direction as it looks somewhat similar to photo below that is described as algae Yuknessia on fossilmuseum.net - except perhaps mine is broken up.

 

 

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While I am posting Swasey Springs I thought I would also throw this one up here. It is about 4" square and covered with small dark dots/plates about 1/16" or 2mm in diameter.  If it had some form to it I would have suggested it was very much like the sponge in appearance, but this seems to be random.  I always thought these might be some type of algae

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  • 1 year later...
Spongy Joe

I'm going with algal debris for the first two photos... and the bottom one as well. There's certainly no Valospongia lurking in the blobbiness, I'm afraid!

 

The isolated spicule looks like a simple stauractin from the body wall of Diagoniella / Protospongia (the genera may well be one and the same, since 'real' Protospongia is only known from fragments with no orientation!). Incidentally, there's a lot of interest in what their spicules were made from... and yours looks like gorgeous preservation. Is the Swasey Springs site limestone? ...And do you know what mineral the spicule is composed of?

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Tidgy's Dad

I'm glad this thread's been reanimated as I haven't see it before. 

Very interesting, that sponge spicule is amazing and I love the algae too. :)

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