Tuesday, 24 January 2017

WANNERIA DUNNAE. EAGER FORMATION.

Wanneria dunnae




















Trilobites were amongst the earliest fossils with hard skeletons. They were the dominant life form at the beginning of the Cambrian.

This specimen of Wanneria dunnae is from the Lower Cambrian Eager Formation in the East Kootnays of British Columbia and is typical of the group.

He's from the Rifle Range outcrop near Cranbrook. The site is just a shade older than the Burgess Shale, Middle Cambrian deposits though the species found here are much less varied.

Back in the late 1990's and early 2000's, it was a glorious place for fossil collecting. I have many beautifully preserved Wanneria and abundant Olellenus from here along with a few rare and treasured Tuzoia.

The shale matrix lends itself to amazing preservation. This specimen of Wanneria is a big fellow. Five inches long and four inches wide. Wanneria are slightly less common here than Olenellus. Olenellus are slightly smaller in size with a large, semi-circular head, a body of 15 segments and a long spine on the 15th segment with a wee tail. You find a mixture of complete specimens and head impressions from years of perfectly preserved molts.

The Wanneria are their bruising cousins by comparison with their large heads lacking conspicuous furrows and a robust body without an expanded third segment.

As luck would have it, the plate he is in split him right down the centre. Bless the hardness of shale for preservation and it's sheer irony for willfully cracking exactly where you least desire it.

Trilobite eyes were compound like those found in modern crustaceans and insects. The eyes of these earliest trilobites are not well known. They were built in such a way that the visual surface dropped away and was lost during molting or after death throwing a wrench in studying them. We may learn more from the Burgess Shale and the lovely soft mud that was the foundation of their preservation.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

TUMBLER RIDGE DINOSAUR TRACKWAY

In 2000, Mark Turner and Daniel Helm were tubing down the rapids of Flatbed Creek just below Tumbler Ridge.

As they walked up the shoreline excitement began to build as they quickly recognized a series of regular depressions as dinosaur footprints.

Their discovery spurred an infusion of tourism and research in the area and the birth of the Peace Region Palaeontology Society and Dinosaur Centre.

The Hudson's Hope Museum has an extensive collection of terrestrial and marine fossils from the area. They feature ichthysaurs, a marine reptile and hadrosaur tracks.

The tracks the boys found were identified the following year by Rich McCrae as those of a large quadrupedal dinosaur, Tetrapodosaurus borealis, an ichnotaxon liked to ankylosaurs.

Closer study and excavation of the area yielded a 25 cm dinosaur bone thus doubling the number of dinosaur bones known from British Columbia at the time.

Monday, 16 January 2017

AMMONITE CRUSHED BY PREDATOR

Here a partial ammonite with lovely oil-spill colored nacre (ammolite) shows several bite marks.

One of the natural predators to ammonites were the marine reptiles, particularly elasmosaurs, a genus of plesiosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous. With their long necks, the could move unseen in the depths then chomp down with their cage-like teeth to munch on fish and those unfortunate enough to be the tasty bounty of ancient times.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

FLORISSANTIA SP. (STERCULIACEAE)

Florissantia, an extinct genus in the Cocoa Tree Family
Beautifully preserved specimens of Florissantia can be found in the Eocene deposits near Cache Creek in the Tranquile Formation, Kamloops Group, at Quilchena, Coldwater Beds, Kamloops Group and near Princeton, British Columbia in the Allenby Formation.

This specimen is from the Allenby Formation, which is predominately fine-grained shales and mudrocks. Florissantia are quite commonly found here alongside other plant remains and rarer, insect and fish fossils.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Friday, 6 January 2017

SHELTER POINT, VANCOUVER ISLAND

Shelter Point on northern Vancouver Island is a lovely beach site and part of the Oyster Bay Formation, located just off the Island Highway, about 10km south of downtown Campbell River.  

At the northern end of Shelter Bay, turn east onto Heard Road, which ends at a public access to Shelter Point. A low tide is necessary in order to collect from these shales. I also recommend rubber boots and eye protection. This is a good family trip.   

The fossils, mainly the crab, Longusorbis and the straight ammonite Baculites, occur only in the gritty concretions that weather out of the shale. Aside from the fossils, check out the local tidepools and larger sea life in the area. Seals and playful otters can be seen basking on the beaches.

CRETACEOUS STEW: INOCERAMUS CLAMS

These oyster-like clams were common through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The presence of certain fossil Inoceramus species allows geologists to date specific formations.

The entire group went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous, as did the ammonites and the dinosaurs.
This specimen from Hornby Island is approximately 67 million years old. They were was found a perfect sunny day while collecting with Graham Beard, author of West Coast Fossils and Chair of the Vancouver Island Museum Paleontological Society. Graham has a keen eye and knack for finding the best specimens on the island.

Visit his collection at the Qualicum Museum on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It is well worth the trip!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Monday, 2 January 2017

ANKYLOSAUR TRACKWAY

After an exciting hike in the dark through the woods and down a steep incline, we reached the river. The tracks in this photo are from a type of armored dinosaur that date to the very end of the Cretaceous, between 68-66 million years ago.

Imagine a meandering armored tank munching on ferns and low-growing vegetation.

This is a photograph of an ankylosaur trackway filled with water and lit by lamplight along Wolverine River, a research site of Lisa Buckley, one of two magnificent paleontologists working in the area. 

Some of the prints contain skin impressions, which is lucky as many of the prints are so shallow that they can only be recognized by the skin impressions.

There are two types of footprints at the Wolverine River Tracksite - theropods (at least four different sizes) and ankylosaurs. Filling the prints with water and using light in a clever way was a genius idea for viewing tracks that are all but invisible in bright sunlight by day.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Monday, 26 December 2016

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

DRAGONFLIES: ODONATA

Dragonflies, from the order Odonata, have been around for over 250 million years. The most conspicuous difference in their evolution over time is the steady shrinking of their wingspan from well over two and a half feet down to a few inches. 

Voracious predators, today they dine on bees, wasps, butterflies and avoid the attentions of birds and wee lizards -- but back in the day, they had a much larger selection of meals within their grasp.

Time has turned the tables. Small lizards and birds who today choose dragonflies as a tasty snack used to be their preferred prey.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Sunday, 11 December 2016

MOSQUE-CATHEDRAL, CORDOBA, SPAIN




















A mix of Muslim and Christian architecture can be found in the stunning, and oh so grand Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba, southern Spain. Originally a small temple of Christian Visigoth origin, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins has an unusual and collaborative history. When Muslims conquered Spain in 711, the church was divided into Muslim and Christian halves.

This sharing arrangement lasted until 784, when the Christian half was purchased by the Emir 'Abd al-Rahman I, who then demolished the original structure to build the grand mosque of Córdoba on its ground.

Córdoba returned to Christian rule in 1236 during the Reconquista, and the building was converted to a Roman Catholic church, culminating in the inclusion of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the 16th century. If you are visiting Andalusia, it is well worth a day trip. Bring your camera and comfortable shoes.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

PALEONTOLOGY MUSEUM, FLORENCE, ITALY


OLD HABITS

Nuns stepping out from the palace, Cordoba, Spain




















A group of nuns stepping out in Cordoba, Spain. The nuns earn their living selling sweets and confections using recipes handed down from the Romans and Moors. Many convents are closing because they have fewer nuns so this art may one day be lost.

The procedure for buying the sweets is archaic, but charming. You enter the convent into a very small room with a lazy Susan installed on the wall.

While we did see some nuns in the street, many do not leave the cloister or appear in public. You never see the nun with whom you do the transaction, since these are cloistered nuns who avoid direct contact with the public.

On the wall beside the lazy Susan will be a price list. You look it over and decide which sweets you want to buy. Then you ring a buzzer on the wall. After a while you will hear the voice of a nun greet you and ask you what you want to purchase.

You tell her your order and after a few minutes the lazy Susan will turn and you will find your order on it. You then put your money on the lazy Susan and turn it so that the nun can get it. If there is change, the nun puts it on the lazy Susan and you then can get your change.

Friday, 9 December 2016

CARNOTAURUS SASTREI

Carnotaurus sastrei, a genus of large theropod dinosaur that roamed, Argentina, South America during the Late Cretaceous period, 72 to 69.9 million years ago.

This fellow (or at least his skull) is on display at the Natural History Museum in Madrid, Spain. He is the only known genus of this species.

The skull is quite unusual. Initially, it has a very marine reptile feel (but make no mistake this guy is clearly a terrestrial theropod). Once you look closer you see horns that imply battle between rivals for the best meal, sexual partner and to be the one who leads the herd. I'll be interested to see his cousins once more specimens of the genus are unearthed.

ALHAMBRA PALACE: GRANADA, SPAIN


Thursday, 8 December 2016

DIPLODOCUS CARNEGIEI

Craneo Diplodocus carnegiei, Morrison Formation, Jurassic

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Monday, 5 December 2016

DEINOTHERIUM GIGANTEUM
















This partial specimen of Deinotherium giganteum hails from Cerecinos de Campos, Zamora from the Middle-Upper miocene (c. 15.97-5.33 Million Years)

The genus Deinotherium could reach a height of over 3.5 meters. Its structure and size are similar to those of the present-day elephant. Deinotherium first appeared approximately 17 million years ago and became extinct relatively recently, just 1.6 million years ago.

One of the distriguishing features of Deinotherium is their curved tusks inserted only in the jaw. One of the tusks from this fellow, on display at the Museo Nacional De Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain, while incomplete, was preserved rather nicely and shows the detail of where the tusk meets the jaw.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

MEGATHERIUM AMERICANUM





In 1788, this magnificent specimen of a Megatherium sloth was sent to the Royal Cabinet of Natural History from the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata.

The megaterios were large terrestrial sloths belonging to the group, Xenarthra. These herbivores inhabited large ares of land on the American continent. Their powerful skeleton enabled them to stand on their hind legs to reach leaves high in the trees, a huge advantage given the calories needed to be consumed each day to maintain their large size.

In 1788, Bru assembled the skeleton as you see it here. It is exhibited at the Museo Nacional De Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain, in it's original configuration for historic value.

If you look closely, you'll see it is not anatomically correct.

But all good paleontology is teamwork. Based upon the drawings of Juan Bautista Bru, George Cuvier used this specimen to describe the species for the very first time.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

CRANEO DE TIGRE DE DIENTES DE SABLE

Machairodus aphanistus, Batallones, Madrid 9 Ma. Vallesiense, Mioceno

Friday, 9 September 2016

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

CRANEO DE OSO

Ursus spelaeus. Aitzkirri, Guipuzcoa. Pleistoceno superior

Sunday, 4 September 2016

BRITISH COLUMBIA'S GREAT BEARS


Hiking in BC, both grizzly and black bear sightings are common. Nearly half the world's population, some 25,000 grizzlies, roam the Canadian wilderness. This photo of Edward (yes, we named him) was taken off the west coast of Vancouver Island by Larissa Harding of Great Bear Nature Tours.

Both bear families descend from a common ancestor, Ursavus, a bear-dog the size of a raccoon who lived more than 20 million years ago. Seems an implausible lineage given the size of their very large descendents.

An average Grizzly weighs in around 800 lbs (363 kg), but a recent find in Alaska tops the charts at 1600 lbs (726 kg). This mighty beast stood 12' 6' high at the shoulder, 14' to the top of his head. It is one of the largest grizzly bears ever recorded. This past month this king of the forest was seen once again in the Washington Cascades -- the first sighting in 50 years.

Friday, 2 September 2016

TORVOSAURUS TANNERI















The genus Torvosaurus includes a unique species of megalosaurid therapod dinosaur.

This fellow is from the Morrison Formation, western United States but his kind spread widely and fossil specimens of the same species have been found in the Lourinha Formation near Lisbon, Portugal. He is currently on display at the Museo Nacional De Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain.

Torvosaurus were one of the largest and most robust carnivores of the Jurassic. These "savage lizards" were true to their name. Skilled hunters, who could grow from 9 to ll meters long, weigh over 2 tons, were bipedal with powerful dentition and strong claws on their forelegs, they ruled the Upper Jurassic.

While currently speculative, there seems to be a high likelihood that these bad boys hunted and dined upon the big sauropods of their time.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Friday, 22 July 2016

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

WOOLLY MAMMOTH

Mammutus primigenius. Pleistocene. Siberia, Russia