Sunday, October 9, 2016

Working your Collection

I have a small collection of fossils I have been gathering in the last 10 years. I have about 100 fossils. So, I just don’t put them in a drawer and forget about them. I study my fossils and gather information to learn more about each specimen and   to make my collection more complete, just like a museum would do.

Some of my fossils are collected by me, by going in the field and getting them after a previews research of each site and some of my fossils are purchased. Purchasing fossils makes lots of sense because that would be the only way you can have a fossils from a faraway locality or collected in an inaccessible place. Museums purchase specimens.

So what do I do with my fossils?

If I have collected the fossils on my own, I need to take geologic maps and Google each location to get the geology of the site. By knowing the geology you also know the Rock formation and the lithology, and if you know that then you will also know the age of the fossil.

If I purchase the fossil then I always need to know three things:

1.      Where does it comes from

2.      What is the geologic formation of the site and

3.      What is the scientific name of the specimen.

Each fossil is numbered by painting a white square on the rock and a number in indelible ink. I also have a data base in excel where I record each specimen with its number and all the information I can get.

Some of that information is the common name of the organisms, the scientific name, location where it comes from, Geologic era, epoch and period and in addition the formation and any other information I can get from the seller, maps, my books or the web.

I also carry a journal where all my fossils are introduced. Each fossil is listed separately, and all kinds of pertinent information is written on the pages. That includes maps, pictures of the specimen, drawing I make and anything else I find.

I spend time taking pictures of my fossils and making drawings of details. I like to research what other organism were living with my specimen and the ecology and biology of the site. You would be surprised of how much paleontology and biology I learn from these fossils.

Recently I purchased a small fish, Dastilbe spp. at the Springfield Rock and Mineral Show. This show happens once a year and I have purchased many of my fossils there. The fossil came with a tag that game me information of the Formation and the age of the specimen. (Cretaceous age and from the Santana Formation in Brazil).

First thing I did is I gave the fossil a number, # 37, and enter the information on my data base in my computer. That is very important because if the tag separates from the rock then you will be in trouble but if the specimen has a number and the data base identify that specimen then you can never lose the information.

Next I Googled for information on the Santana Formation and learn many things that I added to my Journal. I read one scientific paper written by Samuel Davis and Davis Martill were according to the information this small fish appears on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, in Western Africa and in Brazil, just where the rift between the two continents happed years ago with the help of Plate Tectonics.

So at the end I had a small prize on this fish as is not just a specimen but a result of the separation of continents during Godwana. I now have a story to tell!

I have added two pictures, one of my Fossil Natural History Journal with the information and one of the fish. So next time you start to collect fossil maybe you can add lots of fun to your collection.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Another Mystery

This is not my first mystery and would not be the last. That’s why I love science!

On 8/21/12 I went to Whitman Camp to do a program with a group of kids. We went to Billing Lake and collected macroinvertebrates. Always looking for those elusive crustaceans, I kept all I could find. I recently went over my collection and rebelled a population of amphipods, Hyallela azteca . But with the amphipods I found a true shrimp. This small and young shrimp is not completely developed and is difficult to identify as not all the parts are there, but I believe that it is a Grass Shrimp, or Palaemonetes spp.

Lake Billings is a fresh body water, Far from any brakeage or saline environment. I took some chemistry readings that day. There was a Dissolved Oxygen of 7.5 ppm, at a temperature of 25.3 degrees centigrade, a pH of 7.6 and an alkalinity of 80 ppm. which is high for that area but by no means saline. So what was a grass shrimp doing there?

Hyallela azteca is found in fresh water. I also saw some snails, Pseudosaccinea colunella, and some Helisoma spp, all fresh water organisms. This site is at least 7 miles from any salt water.

Here are some pictures of this grass shrimp and also a map.

Coordinates for this collection were 41.50938 Latitude and -71. 87062 longitudes.