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.
This week (October 8-14, 2017) is Earth Science Week and the theme is “Earth and Human Activity.”
According to earthsciweek.org
“This year’s event, the 20th annual Earth Science Week celebration, promotes awareness of what geoscience tells us about human interaction with the planet’s natural systems and processes.
“Earth Science Week 2017 learning resources and activities are engaging young people and others in exploring the relationship between human activity and the geosphere (earth), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air), and biosphere (life). This year’s theme promotes public understanding and stewardship the planet, especially in terms of the ways people affect and are affected by these Earth systems.”
Be on the lookout for fun activities in schools and in the community to promote awareness of earth science this week, and National Fossil Day this Wednesday.
Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sotheby’s
In the fall of 2015, a 1,109 carat white diamond was found in the Lucara mine in South Africa. The diamond is called the Lesedi La Rona, which means “Our Light” in Setswana. They tried to sell it at a Sotheby’s auction last year (July 2016), and we even wrote about it on Show Me Rockhounds, but no bidder met the reserve. Now, it has finally sold.
On September 26, 2017, Graff Diamonds announced that they bought the Lesedi La Rona for $53 million in a private sale. The CEO of Lucara says $53 million is higher than the highest bid they got at the auction last year, but he wishes he could have got a higher price. (Don’t we all!)
What will they do with it? Lawrence Graff, the founder of Graff Diamonds, says, “The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties. … I am privileged to be given the opportunity to honor the magnificent natural beauty of the Lesedi La Rona.”
Shelter House 3, although many people had already left. Photo by Stephanie Reed
Jim Ray, Stephanie, Martin, Valerie, and Jeanna. Photo by David Reed
Looking at something shiny. Photo by Stephanie Reed
Despite the rain, there was a sizeable turnout at the picnic, with members from Show-Me, IGAMS, the Bead Society, and more. Bruce, Martin, and Jim Ray grilled, with plenty of umbrella helpers keeping the rain off. Every picnic table in Shelter #3 was covered with interesting items during swap time, but it was cleared off quickly to make room for food and auction action. There was a lot of good food and if anyone went away hungry they have only themselves to blame. Kara was the auctioneer and sold things like trilobites, ammonites, calcite crystals, Dr. Gentile’s book (he was at the picnic, so the winner got it signed!), a specimen of garnets on chlorite schist, necklaces, beads, and even a set of all-beef hot dogs with matching buns. The proceeds will go towards the Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded next March.
As someone pointed out to me, I can hardly advertise a show in Arkansas without also advertising the upcoming show in St. Louis. So here it is: it’s the weekend before the Arkansas show, easily accessible from Kansas City, and I am sure it will be fun.
A fun show opportunity next month. Mountain Home is in the north-central part of Arkansas and is only 4 and a half hours away, same as a trip to St. Louis. If you like quartz, Arkansas is famous for it and I’m sure you will see lots of it. I also hear the show will have plenty of air conditioning!
The Association Picnic will be Sunday, August 27 at Antioch Park. 6501 Antioch Rd, Merriam, KS 66202. There will be a swap starting around 8 am, lunch will be around noon, and then the auction will be sometime after lunch. Please bring a side dish or dessert, stuff to swap if you want to swap, and cash so you can buy something at the auction. Proceeds go to the Scholarship Fund.
Next weekend (June 10, 2017) we are going on a trip to the Missouri Mines Rock Swap in Park Hills, Missouri. We will look for drusy quartz and possibly Missouri banded agates. The swap itself goes from June 9-11 if you want to stay longer and is located at the Missouri Mines Historic Site near St. Joe State Park, 4000 MO-32, Park Hills, Missouri 63601. FREE admission to the show!
Directions: From Missouri 32, get off at Federal Mill Rd and look for the Missouri Mines Historic Site. Google Maps
Drip water in Yonderup Cave contains evidence of an aboveground fire. Credit: Andy Baker/U. New South Wales
Stalactites and stalagmites form in caves when water that contains dissolved minerals (such as calcium carbonate) drips from the ceiling. Scientists can analyze the 18O/16O ratios (isotopes of oxygen) in the stalactites and see how the temperature changed as they were formed. A team led by Andy Baker, Gurinder Nagra, and Pauline C. Treble of the University of New South Wales, Australia discovered that Yonderup Cave had a lot more 18O than they expected. Since having more 18O is associated with higher temperatures at the time of formation, it could have been interpreded as one of the largest climate changes in the last 2 million years.
But, there was a wildfire in 2005 and a large tree died right on top of the cave. Baker’s team believes that this is what actually caused the increased 18O concentration. This is important for anybody else trying to use these oxygen isotopes to determine ancient temperatures, because if they get a very warm result it might have been caused by a forest fire instead.
It’s a little more complicated than that. Read the whole article here: http://cen.acs.org/articles/94/i30/Cave-dripwater-contain-fire-evidence.html and check Baker’s website for more interesting stuff about how he researches caves to learn about past climates.
In this economy, we all could use some career advice. Here is an interview with a former curator of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, explaining how he got the job and what it entails. (more…)