Fossils

National Fossil Day

October 11, 2017 is National Fossil DayTM. This year, the logo features heterostracans (Greek for “different shields”), which are a group of extinct fish who lived between the early Silurian and late Devonian period (358 million years ago). According to their website,

The heterostracans were characterized by an external covering of bony armor plates and by having only one common gill opening on each side of the head region. These early fish lacked any paired or mid-line fins and in many cases developed extensions of the armor plates that were not flexible but helped provide control in the water. Heterostracans lived in shallow marine environments around an ancient continent known as the Old Red Sandstone (ORS) Continent, which was composed of present day North America, the Canadian Arctic, and Western Europe….

The heterostracan species illustrated in the logo are Panamintaspis snowii in the foreground and Phyllonaspis taphensis in the background. Panamintaspis is named after the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley, which is where the original fossils were found and the species name recognizes the individual who helped to discover the specimen. Phyllonaspis taphensis means “leaf shield from the tomb” referring to the fact that the specimen comes from Death Valley. Phyllonaspis is particularly interesting as it is a member of a group that is otherwise only known from the Canadian Arctic, suggesting dispersal of these organisms from the arctic and around the margins of the Old Red Sandstone Continent.

Go to the NFD website to read more about heterostracans and David Elliott, a paleontologist who studies them and even found some in Death Valley National Park. There are also several activities you can do to celebrate the day.

To further celebrate National Fossil Day, Paleoaerie has a great article about the fossils that can be found in Arkansas.

We have discussed fossils found in Kansas City many times at showmerockhounds.com. They include ammonites, bivalves, crinoids, composita, and much more. For the full list, there’s a book for that.

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Mini Field Trip July 2017

After our meeting on July 15, 2017 we decided to go on another mini field trip and look for fossils. There were crinoid stems, composita, and other fossils, as well as lots of blue shale. There was also something red and nobody knew what it was. I don’t have many pictures because it was very hot outside and my phone said something about battery temperature too high.

Composita fossils found in Kansas City. lots of crinoid stems and little fossils of many shapes

Composita found in Kansas City. Photo by Stephanie Reed

blue shale rocks in a row from kansas city mo

Blue shale. Photo by Stephanie Reed

bird in a tree

David met a friendly bird. Photo by David Reed.

man bending over gathering rocks outdoors

This is a traditional pose for members of rock clubs. Someday we may make a calendar. Photo by Stephanie Reed

Mini Field Trip May 2017

At the end of our meeting on May 20, 2017, David said, “Hey, we should go to [redacted] to get some fossils. It’s really close by.” Several members came along and looked for fossils.

Climbing and finding fossils in Missouri

Dan, David, and Connie climbing up to the good spot. Photo by Stephanie Reed

We had to climb a little bit to get to the good spot, but once we did, there were crinoid stems, brachiopods, encrusting and branching bryozoa, and other things. It was easy to get fossils out of the ground because it had recently rained. Afterward, David suggested another place nearby to go to find composita, so some people came along for that, too.

People climbing and finding fossils in Missouri, looking for fossils

Rock climbing in the “wilderness”. Photo by Stephanie Reed

In the summer weather, we expect to go on more spontaneous field trips like this in the Kansas City area. Make sure you come to our meetings dressed for adventure* if you want to come along!

*dressed for adventure= long pants, closed toe shoes, bring gloves and bug spray

Update: We took another mini field trip in July.

Collagen Found in Dinosaur Bones

Paleontologists at the University of Toronto just found collagen in a 195 million year old fossil. This makes it the oldest protein that has ever been found. Previously, the oldest protein sample was only 80 million years old (it was also collagen, from a dinosaur bone). They also found hematite crystals in the fossil, which possibly came from the blood. The dinosaur was a Lufengosaurus that lived in Yunnan Province, China.

Some other paleontologists didn’t like the new, non-invasive methods that the team used used to identify the collagen, but other scientists thought the methods were fine. Read the whole article here https://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i6/Collagen-found-195-million-year.html and let me know what you think.

Gem Show Pictures Fall 2016

KCI Expo Center outside building

The Gem and Mineral Show was once again at the KCI Expo Center

selling rocks and books convention customers

The view from behind the Association booth.

yellow keokuk geode

This yellow geode is from Keokuk in St. Francisville. They call it “Lemoness”.

crinoid Scyphocrinites elegans fossil from Morocco

This huge crinoid (Scyphocrinites elegans) fossil is from Morocco.

kansas fossils

There were also fossils from Kansas available.

tiny beads in tubes

Plenty of beads for sale at the show.

fossilized starfish britlestar ophiura morocco

Fossil Brittle Star from Morocco, sold by Schooler’s Minerals. Fun fact: a brittle star is from the class Ophiurida and starfish are from the class Asteroidea, so they are not really related to starfish at all.

official-apron

Bob models an official Association apron and holds a pufferfish.

pufferfish

The preserved pufferfish close up. It is hollow and light as a feather. I don’t think anyone bought it so it will be for sale again in March.

books about minerals and gem cutting for sale

Some of the mineral, fossil, and jewelry-related books we had for sale this year.

carved mineral skulls

Carved skulls made of semi-precious minerals.

dino agate.JPG

Is this a giant dinosaur showing off a giant agate, or a very small dinosaur with a tiny agate?

potter with pots and bowls oklahoma dirt shirt

Martin selling pottery that he made

men packing items for storage

Everything is packed up into our big blue cube until the next show.

Delightful Daylilies

pink and yellow daylily

Photo by Stephanie Reed

The Snows had a delightful daylily party at their place this weekend! First there was food, then we viewed their amazing rock collection in their impeccably organized basement (complete with a fluorescent rock display that rivals several museums), then we saw their daylily garden and had a walk through the woods! There was even a real turtle in the yard! Ed brought some teeth for Martin to identify and there are some photos of the teeth. I didn’t know there were so many different shapes and colors of daylily so there are tons more photos on the Google+ here.

Since this is ostensibly a website about rocks and fossils, here’s a picture of two of the teeth. I don’t remember what Martin said they were.

two fossilized teeth in the palm of a person's hand

Photo by David Reed

Characterization of Green Amber

silver ring with oval green amber

Green amber ring owned by Stephanie. It has nothing to do with this article. Photo by Stephanie Reed

David highly recommends this article on green amber from Gems & Gemology, 2009. Here is the abstract.

Ahmadjan Abduriyim, Hideaki Kimura, Yukihiro Yokoyama, Hiroyuki Nakazono, Masao Wakatsuki, Tadashi Shimizu, Masataka Tansho, and Shinobu Ohki

Abstract: A peridot-like bright greenish yellow to green gem material called “green amber” has recently appeared in the gem market. It is produced by treating natural resin (amber or copal) with heat and pressure in two stages in an autoclave. Differences in molecular structure between untreated amber and copal as compared to treated “green amber” were studied by FTIR and 13C NMR spectroscopy, using powdered samples. Regardless of the starting material, the FTIR spectrum of “green amber” showed an amber pattern but with a characteristic small absorption feature at 820 cm-1. Solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy of the treated material indicated a significantly lower volatile component than in the untreated natural resin, evidence that the treatment can actually “artificially age” copal. A new absorption observed near 179 ppm in the NMR spectra of all the treated samples also separated them from their natural-color counterparts.

To read the whole article, go here http://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/fall-2009-green-amber-abduriyim and click on “Download PDF”.

Pyritized Ammonite

A small ammonite fossil with gold sparkles of pyrite

Photo by Stephanie Reed

Here is a pyritized ammonite (Cosmoceras spinosum) from the Jurassic period, found in Michaelov, Russia. The specimen was at the Sutton Museum. How do pyritized ammonites form? I asked the Internet and here is what I found:

Pyrite or “Fools Gold” is an iron sulphide that occasionally – under unique geochemical conditions – covers or replaces prehistoric creatures and plants, transforming them into incredible fossils with a gold-like lustre.

Pyritized fossils tell us a lot about the past environments of our planet. Research indicates that prehistoric animals that become pyritized, such as trilobites and ammonites, were rapidly buried under ocean sediments that were low in organic matter. In this case there would not be a lot of decaying material present. Another important condition was anaerobic seawater – the water was low in dissolved oxygen.

For the trilobites with soft body parts, rapid burial meant there was very little decay of the creature before the fossilization process began. One of the final conditions for pyritization to occur is to have large numbers of sulphate reducing bacteria (they live in oxygen deficient water) and a high concentration of reactive iron. The bacteria change the sulphates into sulphides which can then diffuse with the iron into the trilobite or other organisms forming our spectacular fossils.

Source: http://www.fossilrealm.com/pages/learn-about-pyritized-fossils

Composita

Lots of Composita shell fossils found in Kansas City

Photo by Stephanie Reed

If you came to our January meeting, you will know that we are now offering door prizes just like at IGAMS. All my spying on IGAMS meetings is proving to be very helpful! January’s door prize was part of Kansas City’s Composita layer. Composita is a genus of extinct brachiopods that were abundant during the Pennsylvanian era. Brachiopods are bottom-dwelling marine organisms that have two shells[1] and a little fleshy “foot” called a pedicle. In a fossil brachiopod, you can see the hole where the pedicle sticks out of the shell, which is called the pedicle valve. In the upper part of the Winterset Limestone in Kansas City, there is a zone consisting almost entirely of Composita shells. See Chapter 11 of Dr. Gentile’s book for more information. Some of the shells in this specimen even had crystals inside. It was collected by David Reed somewhere in the Kansas City area, but he’s not telling exactly where.

[1]Brachiopods have two shells, but they are not bivalves (an easy mistake to make). Bivalves are a class of mollusks, like clams, and do not have pedicles. Bivalves are symmetrical, and brachiopods are not. In fact, the bivalves may have caused the extinction of the brachiopods due to competition for food and living space.