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Mammal, Squamate, Amphibian and Eggshell Micros from the Oligocene of Nebraska


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This is a quick post, with a few group pictures, on the anthill matrix that I recently collected from my sons’ Nebraska ranch this May.  The specimens in this post are from anthill matrix that was collected from anthills that are in the flats of the ranch which are Oligocene, Lower Scenic Member, Brule Formation.

I’m currently working with 2 amphibian (frog and salamander) researchers, 1 squamate researcher (lizards, legless lizards and snakes), 1 mammal researcher (rodents) and 1 bird researcher.  I’ll soon be also working with an eggshell researcher and another mammal researcher (insectivores especially bats).

I’ve been asked about trading some of this matrix by TFF members but can not do so until the research is finished and the papers are published.

I finished searching one gallon of the seven gallons of anthill matrix that I just collected this May.  I continue to be amazed at both the fossil density and quality of specimens that I’m finding in this anthill matrix from the ranch.  So far the fossil density of this batch of anthill matrix from the ranch is actually higher than what was in the matrix from my September and May 2016 trips.  One reason for that may be the 3 inches of rain that we had at the ranch the four days or so before I started collecting the matrix.  To get that much rain is unusual with the rain probably breaking down and washing away a bit of the matrix itself.

I’ve attached a number of group pictures of what I picked from this first gallon of anthill matrix.  The white paper plates are 9 inches in diameter and the gem jar cups are 1.75 inches in diameter for size reference.

There are lots of mammal specimens with rodent specimens by far the most common.  There are also a good number of Lagomorph specimens.  There are also a decent number of really nice insectivore specimens and other small mammal specimens.

 

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There are a large number of squamate specimens, with a good number of these being Glyptosaur especially Glyptosaur osteoderms.  I’m not seeing anything that jumps out as being new from what I’ve previously sent to the squamate researcher but there are a lot of nice jaw pieces and vertebrae.

59474c087ecf6_SquamateSpecimensWashAreaLeftAcrossMMRanch.thumb.JPG.5025d405c8c2e2f710b5b94229c656e1.JPG

 

I’ve only found at best two amphibian specimens so far.  One looks like a frog humerus and the other possibly a damaged salamander vertebra.

 

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I’m not seeing bird bones that I recognize so far.  However, based upon the squamate researcher finding eggshell pieces in the previous specimens that I sent, I did intentionally look for eggshell specimens.  So I think there are also eggshell pieces in this matrix also.

59474c49d2089_EggshellSpecimensWashAreaLeftAcrossMMRanch.thumb.JPG.d9fdb034d7f782fb6a07cb3a54df087b.JPG

 

I decided to pick everything from this matrix, versus only specimens that I could recognize, like I did with the September 2016 matrix.  There are a tremendous number of bone and tooth fragment specimens.  Picking everything is taking a long time and I may not be through searching all 7 gallons of this matrix by the end of August as I had originally hoped.  I wish I could recognize the diagnostic cranial elements but unfortunately I don’t have that expertise requiring that I pick everything so as to not lose something that might be of scientific importance.

59474c7059022_BoneandToothFragmentConcentrateWashAreaLeftAcrossMMRanch.thumb.jpg.2029cba85ffa20dc855d86f2eab06097.jpg

 

All and all I’m extremely happy with what I’m finding so far in the anthill matrix from the ranch.

I also did take a quick look at some of the 1 gallon of Eocene anthill matrix from a neighboring ranch that I also collected in May.  That result was not encouraging with only a few mammal specimens that were damaged found so far.

Marco Sr.

Edited by MarcoSr
Changed Peltosaurus to Glyptosaur based upon input from Dr. Krister Smith
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Hi,

 

What a work ! I look forward to know more about it on the found species when they will be published and to see photos of detail !

 

Coco

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Interesting stuff Marco. Does your sons' ranch include any Eocene Chadron Formation? I would think the odds of finding amphibian fossils in the Chadron would be higher since it was a moist environment compared with the environment of the Brule Formation.

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4 hours ago, Coco said:

Hi,

 

What a work ! I look forward to know more about it on the found species when they will be published and to see photos of detail !

 

Coco

 

Coco

 

I've stopped taking a lot of the individual photos of specimens until the papers are published.  I expect a joint paper on squamates and amphibians hopefully by early next year with additional papers to follow.

 

Marco Sr.

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2 hours ago, Al Dente said:

Interesting stuff Marco. Does your sons' ranch include any Eocene Chadron Formation? I would think the odds of finding amphibian fossils in the Chadron would be higher since it was a moist environment compared with the environment of the Brule Formation.

 

Eric

 

Amphibians are pretty scarce in the Oligocene of the White River Group and more common in the Eocene.  However, the ants don't seem to like building anthills in the Chadron Formation at all.  I've visited neighboring ranches that are all Chadron and had trouble finding any anthills at all.  This last trip I found a couple of anthills and took a gallon of Eocene, Chadron Formation matrix.  After a quick look at a little of the matrix, I'm not seeing much, only a couple of damaged mammal specimens so far.  The flats of our ranch are Oligocene, Lower Scenic Member, Brule Formation and are at the contact with the Chadron Formation or at most 10 feet above the contact.  There are two small areas of the ranch where the Chadron does poke through the Brule but the ants build their anthills on the small Brule outcrops in those areas.  From anthill matrix taken there I see evidence of mostly Brule Formation with a little Chadron mixed in but the specimens have been strictly Oligocene so far.  On the positive side I've already found diagnostic specimens for an Oligocene toad and salamander.

 

Marco Sr.

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Nice Marco, looking forward to seeing all the neet things.

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6 hours ago, ynot said:

Nice Marco, looking forward to seeing all the neet things.

 

Tony

 

I'm looking forward to the papers.  They will have a number of neat things in them.  After the papers are published, I can start taking and posting individual pictures again.  My earlier posts here on TFF with pictures of individual specimens from our ranch peaked the interest of the different researchers to study my specimens.

 

Marco Sr.

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Mighty cool stuff. As the others have said...Looking forward to seeing more. Regards, Chris 

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20 hours ago, Plantguy said:

Mighty cool stuff. As the others have said...Looking forward to seeing more. Regards, Chris 

 

17 hours ago, jpc said:

Excellent work, marco.

 

These terrestrial specimens are a lot different from the marine specimens that I've studied for years.  I'm finally starting to recognize a lot of what I'm finding.

 

Marco Sr.

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