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.
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.
Friday, 15 March 2019
Friday, 8 March 2019
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.