Fossils

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.

A Great Geology Book

Rocks and Fossils of the Central United States with Special Emphasis on the Greater Kansas City Area by Richard Gentile

The front cover of Richard Gentile's book, Rocks and Fossils of the Central United States with Special Emphasis on the Greater Kansas City Area

Front cover

The back cover of Richard Gentile's book, Rocks and Fossils of the Central United States with Special Emphasis on the Greater Kansas City Area

Back cover

Review by David Reed:

This book is great! It has beautiful pictures of the fossils that can be found in Kansas City and clear stratographic sections explaining the geology of the area. It also shows locations for picking up the fossils. Everything you might wish to know about Kansas City is in this book. Well worth the money and you can ONLY get it at UMKC (Amazon doesn’t have it). We purchased one when we visited the Sutton Museum.

Even Bigger Petrified Wood

A cylindrical red and orange piece of petrified wood that almost reaches the waist of the person standing next to it.

Photo by David Reed

Everyone had a great time visiting the Sutton Museum on our last field trip. Valerie just reminded me that I should be posting some photos from the museum so I will over the next week or two. When you come in the door of the museum, the first thing you will notice is this giant piece of petrified wood. A person is standing next to it for scale, so you can see it is about 2 feet tall. Much bigger than the other big petrified wood I wrote about last year.

What color were the dinosaurs?

A dinosaur fossil of anchiomis huxleyi

Johan Lindgren/Sci. Rep.

In this article from Chemical & Engineering News, researchers use chemistry to find out what colors the dinosaurs were.

Researchers led by Johan Lindgren of Lund University, in Sweden, used a battery of analytical techniques to scrutinize the molecular makeup of a fossilized Anchiornis huxleyi specimen. This dinosaur is a distant relative of today’s birds, and its remnants were preserved for about 150 million years in what is now northeastern China.

The researchers’ thorough analyses have allowed them to conclude that some of the dinosaur’s melanin, or pigment molecules, and melanin-producing organelles have also survived the intervening epochs (Sci. Rep. 2015, DOI: 10.1038/srep13520).

Scientists have previously observed signs of similar biomaterials in fossils, but studies have lacked sufficient evidence to rule out the idea that these materials come from bacteria or other microbial intruders.

Using methods including infrared spectroscopy and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry, Lindgren and his colleagues have shown that the sample’s fossilized feathers contain substances that closely resemble modern animal—not bacterial—eumelanin, the pigments responsible for brown and black coloration.

Click here to read the whole article.

Angelwing Chalcedony

Article by special guest author David Reed

a long flowing wing-shaped rock appearing to be made of several small tubes, with red and blue colors.

From the collection of David Reed, photo by Stephanie Reed

This refers to a surface chalcedony formation characterized by groups of chalcedony filaments often intricately woven or connected together, so they resemble the feathers of a wing or flowing hair. They occur most often in the center of a vug or vein of agate, but can also occur in the center of a hollow thunderegg. These formations are usually found in Idaho or Oregon. It describes this type of surface chalcedony formation, regardless of whether the underlying formation is plume agate, tube agate, or moss agate. See below for several close-ups, all from the same specimen.

Close-up of red tube formations

Photo by Stephanie Reed

Close-up of blue and orange tubes

Photo by Stephanie Reed

Lots of chalcedony filaments all pointing the same way

Photo by Stephanie Reed

The tubes in Angelwing Chalcedony seem to follow the direction of flow of the silica-bearing fluid in air within the vug. They may form in similar fashion to the directional helictites (gypsum formations) in Lechugilla Cave (and elsewhere), or they may be directional helictites which were silicified.

Lechuguilla_Chandelier_Ballroom

Lechuguilla Chandelier Ballroom photo by Dave Bunnell

long squiggly white directional helictites

Directional Helictites Photo by Dave Bunnell

Although it looks similar, Angelwing Chalcedony is not the radiating tubes found in fossils of certain coral heads.  Angelwing Chalcedony was never alive, but the coral was. During mineralization, the form of the living coral was maintained, but the structure was changed from mostly calcite to mostly silica, and some of the voids were filled. The structure of the fossil is more regular; there was no irregular flow of fluid through a void, as there was with the Angelwing Chalcedony. The fossil specimen below was found eroding out of a Florida riverbed. It was purchased, to avoid diving with the alligators.

A round brown chunk of tiny tubes of coral with a white crust on the outside

From the collection of David Reed, photo by Stephanie Reed

Missouri’s State Dinosaur

Hypsibema missouriense is a type of dinosaur called a Hadrosaur or “duck-billed” dinosaur. It was a herbivore with jaws that contained over 1,000 teeth. Hypsibema had evolved specialized teeth to handle the tough, fibrous vegetation of the time. This dinosaur lived in Missouri during the Late Cretaceous Period. Hypsibema was first discovered in 1942 by Dan Stewart, near the town of Glen Allen, MO, and became the state’s official dinosaur on July 9, 2004 (RsMo 10.095) A reconstruction of Missouri’s State Dinosaur can be seen at the Bollinger Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill, MO. Source: Secretary of State webpage, http://sos.mo.gov/symbols/symbols.asp?symbol=dino

Missouri’s State Fossil

The crinoid became the state’s official fossil on June 16, 1989, after a group of Lee’s Summit school students worked through the legislative process to promote it as a state symbol. The crinoid (Delocrinus missouriensis) is a mineralization of an animal which, because of its plant-like appearance, was called the “sea lily.” Related to the starfish and sand dollar, the crinoid lived in the ocean that once covered Missouri. There are about 600 species alive in the ocean today. (RSMo 10.090) Source: http://sos.mo.gov/symbols/symbols.asp?symbol=fossil Note to people who live in Kansas: Kansas does not have an official state gem, mineral, rock, or fossil. If you would like to change this, you can contact one of your representatives and get one. I suggest Niobrara Chalk, as in Rock Chalk Jayhawks.