Sunday, 6 December 2020


A sweet little water bug from the suborder Heteroptera (Latreille, 1810). He looks more like a cartoon character that any other specimen I've seen. 

This fun fellow is in the collections of Tim Dingman. The deeply awesome Jim Barkley gets credit for this charming photo. The cartoon effect comes from this guy missing his abdomen. He hails from Eocene deposits of the Green River Formation of Western Colorado.

The Green River Formation is an Eocene geologic formation that records a 12 million year history of sedimentation in a group of intermountain lakes in three basins along the present-day Green River in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. It is one of the most important outcrops we have for insight into life in the Eocene. It gives a window into what our world looked like about 50 million years ago. 

The first documented records of invertebrate fossils from what is now called the Green River Formation are in the journals of early missionaries and explorers such as S. A. Parker, 1840, and J. C. Fremont, 1845. Geologist Dr. John Evans collected the first fossil fish, described as Culpea humilis — later renamed Knightia eocaena — from the Green River beds in 1856.

Edward Drinker Cope collected extensively from the area and produced several publications on the fossil fish from 1870 onwards. Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, geologist-in-charge of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, the forerunner of the United States Geological Survey,  first used the name "Green River Shales" for the fossil sites in 1869.

Millions of fish fossils have been collected from the area, commercial collectors operating from legal quarries on state and private land have been responsible for the majority of Green River vertebrate fossils in public and private collections all over the world.