Saturday, 30 March 2019
Some 270 million years ago, the rock that would become the Cariboo Mountains and form the lakes and valleys of Bowron was far out in the Pacific Ocean, down near the equator. With tectonic shifting, these rocks drifted north-eastward, riding their continental plate, until they collided with and joined the Cordillera in what is now British Columbia. Continued pressure and volcanic activity helped create the tremendous slopes of the Cariboo Range we see today with repeated bouts of glaciation during the Pleistocene carving their final shape. Warm and dry with bellies filled full of soup and crisps, we head back out to explore more of nature's bounty.
Friday, 29 March 2019
Monday, 25 March 2019
Snowy Tree Crickets and their cousins double as thermometers and wee garden predators, dining on aphids and other wee beasties.
Weather conditions, both hot and cold, affect the speed at which they rub the base of their wings together and consequently regulate their rate of chirping. Listen for their tell-tale high pitch triple chirp sound in the early evening. Being in Canada, our crickets chirp in Celsius. Simply count the number of chirps over a seven second period and add five to learn your local temperature.
If didn't bring your calculator with you into the woods and you're still operating in old-skool Fahrenheit, ie. those in the United States, the Bahamas, Belize, the Cayman Islands and Liberia can use this handy conversion. Double the temperature in Celsius, add 32 you'll get the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit.
Wednesday, 20 March 2019
|Rich McCrae and Heidi Henderson, Tumbler Ridge Dinosaur Site|
Here you can see a theropod footprint found by Heidi Henderson, then Chair of the Vancouver Paleontological Society. Rich McCrae, resident paleontologist and researcher at the site has published many first dinosaur finds from British Columbia. The specimen was donated to the Tumbler Ridge Paleontological Society.
Saturday, 16 March 2019
Hoploscaphites nebrascensis is an upper Maastrichtian species and index fossil. It marks the top of ammonite zonation for the Western Interior. This species has been recorded from Fox Hills Formation in North and South Dakota as well as the Pierre Shale in southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska.
It is unknown from Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado due to the deposition of coeval terrestrial units. It has possibly been recorded in glacial deposits in Saskatchewan and northern North Dakota, but that is hearsay. Outside the Western Interior, this species has been found in Maryland and possibly Texas in the Discoscaphites Conrad zone. This lovely one is in the collection of the deeply awesome (and enviable) José Juárez Ruiz. A big thank you to Joshua DrSlattmaster J Slattery for his insights on this species.
Monday, 11 March 2019
Zenaspis is an extinct genus of jawless fish which thrived during the early Devonian. Being jawless, Zenaspis was probably a bottom feeder, snicking on debris from the seafloor.
The lovely 420 million-year-old plate you see here is from Podolia or Podilia, a historic region in Eastern Europe, located in the west-central and south-western parts of Ukraine, in northeastern Moldova. Podolia is the only region in Ukraine where Lower Devonian remains of ichthyofauna can be found near the surface.
For the past 150 years, vertebrate fossils have been found in more than 90 localities situated in outcrops along banks of the Dniester River and its northern tributaries, and in sandstone quarries. At present, the faunal list of Early Devonian agnathans and fishes from Podolia number 72 species, including 8 Thelodonti, 39 Heterostraci, 19 Osteostraci, 4 Placodermi, 1 Acanthodii, and 1 Holocephali (Voichyshyn 2001a, modified).
In Podolia, Lower Devonian redbeds strata (the Old Red Formation or Dniester Series) are up to 1800 m thick and range from Lochkovian to Eifelian in age (Narbutas 1984; Drygant 2000, 2003). In their lower part (Ustechko and Khmeleva members of the Dniester Series) they consist of multicoloured, mainly red, fine-grained cross-bedding massive quartz sandstones and siltstones with seams of argillites (Drygant 2000).
We also see fossils of Zenaspis in the early Devonian of Western Europe. Both Zenaspis pagei and Zenaspis poweri can be found up to 25 centimetres long in Devonian outcrops of Scotland.
Reference: Voichyshyn, V. 2006. New osteostracans from the Lower Devonian terrigenous deposits of Podolia, Ukraine. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 51 (1): 131–142. Photo care of the awesome Fossilero Fisherman.
Friday, 8 March 2019
Tuesday, 5 March 2019
About two dozen families of eurypterids “sea scorpions” are known from the fossil record. Although these ancient predators have a superficial similarity, including a defensive needle-like spike or telson at their tail end, they are not true scorpions.
They are an extinct group of arthropods related to spiders, ticks, mites and other extant creepy crawlies.
Eurypterids hunted fish in the muddy bottoms of warm shallow seas before moving on to hunting grounds in fresh and brackish water during the latter part of their reign.
They declined in numbers and diversity until becoming extinct during the Permian–Triassic extinction event (or sometime shortly before) 251.9 million years ago.
As to the oldest and youngest of the order, we can look to the Stylonurina. Members of the suborder are collectively and informally known as "stylonurine eurypterids" or "stylonurines". They are known from deposits primarily in Europe and North America, but also in Siberia.
Compared to the suborder, Eurypterina, the stylonurines were comparatively rare and retained their posterior prosomal appendages for walking. Despite their rarity, the stylonurines have the longest temporal range of the two suborders. The suborder contains some of the oldest known eurypterids, such as Brachyopterus, from the Middle Ordovician as well as the youngest known eurypterids, from the Late Permian.
They remained rare throughout the Ordovician and Silurian, though the radiation of the mycteropoids (a group of large sweep-feeding forms) in the Late Devonian and Carboniferous is the last major radiation of the eurypterids before their extinction in the Permian.
Monday, 4 March 2019
|Fergusonites hendersonae (Longridge, 2008)|
I had the very great honour of having this fellow, a new species of nektonic carnivorous ammonite, named after me by paleontologist Louse Longridge from the University of British Columbia. I'd met Louise as an undergrad and was pleased as punch to hear that she would be continuing the research by Dr. Howard Tipper.
We did several trips over the years up to the Taseko Lake area of the Rockies joined by many wonderful researchers from Vancouver Island Palaeontological Society and Vancouver Paleontological Society, as well as the University of British Columbia. Both Dan Bowen and John Fam were instrumental in planning those expeditions. We endured elevation sickness, rain, snow, grizzly bears and very chilly nights (we were sleeping right next to a glacier at one point) but were rewarded by the enthusiastic crew, helicopter rides (which really cut down the hiking time) excellent specimens and stunningly beautiful country. We were also blessed with excellent access as the area is closed to collecting except with a permit.
Reference: PaleoDB 157367 M. Clapham GSC C-208992, Section A 09, Castle Pass Angulata - Jurassic 1 - Canada, Longridge et al. (2008)
Full reference: L. M. Longridge, P. L. Smith, and H. W. Tipper. 2008. Late Hettangian (Early Jurassic) ammonites from Taseko Lakes, British Columbia, Canada. Palaeontology 51:367-404
PaleoDB taxon number: 297415; Cephalopoda - Ammonoidea - Juraphyllitidae; Fergusonites hendersonae Longridge et al. 2008 (ammonite); Average measurements (in mm): shell width 9.88, shell diameter 28.2; Age range: 201.6 to 196.5 Ma. Locality info: British Columbia, Canada (51.1° N, 123.0° W: paleo coordinates 22.1° N, 66.1° W)
Sunday, 3 March 2019
|Ichthyosaur vertebrae, Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park|
The first researcher to recognize the Nevada fossil specimens as ichthyosaurs was Siemon W. Muller of Stanford University. He had the work of Sir Richard Owen to build on from the 1840s. That being said, there are very few contenders for a species that boasts vertebrae over a foot wide and weighing in at almost 10 kg or 21 lbs. Muller contacted the University of California Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley. Surface collecting by locals continued at the site but no major excavation was planned.
Almost a quarter of a century after Muller's initial correspondence to the UCMP, Dr. Charles L. Camp received correspondence further detailing the finds from a lovely Mrs. Margaret Wheat of Fallon. She wrote to Camp in September of 1928 to say that she'd been giving the quarry section a bit of a sweep, as you do, and had uncovered a nice aligned section of vertebrae with her broom. The following year, Dr. Charles L. Camp went out to survey the finds and began working on the specimens, his first field season of many, in 1954.
Back in the 1950s, these large marine reptiles were rumoured to be "marine monsters," as the concept of an ichthyosaur was not well understood by the local townsfolk. Excitement soon hit West Union Canyon as the quarry began to reveal the sheer size of these mighty beasts. In the end, the ichthyosaur bones were left in situ to better understand how they were laid down over 200 million years ago.
Camp continued to work with Wheat at the site and brought on Sam Welles to help with excavations. The team understood the need for protection at the site. They canvassed the Nevada Legislature to establish the Ichthyosaur Paleontological State Monument. You can one of the Park Rangers above giving a tour within the lovely building they built on the site to protect the fossils.
In 1957, the site was incorporated into the State Park System and Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park was born. The park Twenty years later, in 1977, the population of Nevada weighed in and the Legislature designated Shonisaurus popularis as the State Fossil of Nevada.
Address: State route 844, Austin, NV 89310, United States. Area: 4.58 km². Open 24 hours;
Elevation: 6,975 ft (2,126 m); Tel: +1 775-964-2440; http://parks.nv.gov/parks/berlin-ichthyosaur
Saturday, 2 March 2019
While this large island off the southeast coast of Africa is known more for exotic lemurs, rainforests & beaches, it also boasts some of the world's loveliest fossils.
This specimen is from a quarry near the top of an escarpment, 3 km to the west of the village of Ambatolafia (coordinates: Lat. 16.330 23.600 S, Long. 46.120 10.20 E).
Judging from plate tectonic reconstruction (Stampfli & Borel, 2002), the area was located in middle latitudes within the tropical-subtropical climatic zone at palaeo-latitudes of 40E45.S in the late Early Cretaceous of the early Albian.
This specimen of Phylloceras velledae (Michelin) has a shell with a small umbilicus, arched, acute venter, and at some growth stage, falcoid ribs that spring in pairs from umbilical tubercles, disappearing on the outer whorls.