fossils

Things that used to be alive

Spontaneous Field Trip

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

Spring 2017 Lectures

Lectures presented by the Association of Earth Science Clubs of Greater Kansas City

Friday, March 10, 2017

3:00 p.m. “Opal Down Under”, Ron Wooly, Owner of Dreaming Down Under

Saturday, March 11, 2017

1:00 p.m. “Earth Science… Facts, Frauds and Scams”, Mark Sherwood, Independence Gem and Mineral Society

2:00 p.m. “The Life and Hard Times of the KU T. rex”, Dr. David Burnham, Research Associate, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

3:00 p.m. “Medullary bone in Tyrannosaurs: a question of chickens, eggs and possibly more”, Dr. Josh Schmerge, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

4:00 p.m. “History of Gold Mining”, Doug Foster, Show-Me Gold, Missouri

Sunday, March 12, 2017

2:00 p.m. “The Life and Hard Times of the KU T-rex”, Dr. David Burnham, Research Associate, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

3:00 p.m. “Islands in the sun: Eocene fossil mammals from Turkey”, Dr. Chris Beard, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

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.

National Fossil Day

National Fossil Day saber-toothed cat long-horned bison condor

The 2016 National Fossil Day logo

October 12 was National Fossil Day. This has been going on since 2010 as part of Earth Science Week, but I forgot to post anything about it. According to their website, “National Fossil Day is a celebration organized by the National Park Service to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values. Fossils discovered on the nation’s public lands preserve ancient life from all major eras of Earth’s history, and from every major group of animal or plant. In the national parks, for example, fossils range from primitive algae found high in the mountains of Glacier National Park, Montana, to the remains of ice-age animals found in caves at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Public lands provide visitors with opportunities to interpret a fossil’s ecological context by observing fossils in the same place those animals and plants lived millions of years ago.”

This year, the theme of National Fossil Day is the Pleistocene era, so the logo has a saber-toothed cat, a long-horned bison, and a condor. In the background is Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. To read more about these extinct animals, their website has an explanation here: http://nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday/nfd_2016_artwork_fossils.cfm

There was also a kids’ art contest, and here are the winners: http://nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday/art_contest_2016_results.cfm

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

Dino Soiree at Powell Gardens

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, June 17 (21 and older)

Enjoy drinks and light bites while you view a fascinating collection of fossils and hear from renowned University of Kansas Paleontologist Dr. David Burnham about the unique and ferocious Dakotaraptor. Prepaid reservations of $30/person or $25/member required. You can make those reservations at https://www.powellgardens.org/dino-soiree or by calling 816-697-2600 x209.

Guests will get one drink ticket, which can be exchanged for wine, beer or a non-alcoholic beverage at the bar. Additional drinks will be available for purchase.

Come early if you would like to take a self-guided tour of Jurassic Garden: A Prehistoric Adventure! If you cannot make the paleontology lecture, there are some other events at the Jurassic Garden: Dining with the Dinos on June 24 (reservations for BBQ dinner with dinos) and Dino Night July 22 (reservations for Dino Night). The Jurassic Garden will be available until August 14, 2016.

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.