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Fossil Spotlight: Pyritized Trilobite

Who: Triarthrus eatoni
Lagerstätte: Beecher’s Trilobite Bed (Ordovician, New York)
What: These trilobites are preserved through pyritization which gives them a golden hue. An underwater avalanche, called a turbidity current, carried the trilobites into deep waters and buried them. The shock of the cold water killed them. Anaerobic bacteria within the soil reacted to the influx of sudden food and began to feed on them. As they feed, they released hydrogen sulfide which reacted with the soil’s iron and produced pyrite. The pyrite replaced the organic tissues preserving the legs, antennae, and internal organs. This makes these trilobites highly valuable in understanding what they looked like as most trilobite fossils do not have these soft body parts.

References:
Briggs, Derek EG, Simon H. Bottrell, and Robert Raiswell. “Pyritization of soft-bodied fossils: Beecher’s trilobite bed, Upper Ordovician, New York State.” Geology 19.12 (1991): 1221-1224

If you would like to learn more check out my episode on Beecher’s Trilobite Bed: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1414057/5868751-beecher-s-trilobite-bed.mp3?blob_id=24181264&download=true

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Season 1

Fossil Bonanza Premieres Today!

Happy National Fossil Day everyone! Well, after 10 months or so it finally happened. I’m proud to announce that my Fossil-Lagerstatten podcast, “Fossil Bonanza,” finally comes out today. Although it hasn’t shown up on Google Podcasts yet, you can get it at Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/7xj8OO9pdPMVAe4mIAAiGT
And iTunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/fossil-bonanza/id1535645906

Anyway, I’ve updated the home page so it will have the RSS feed of my podcast. I think I’ll also update the website’s layout to make it more user friendly so you might see some changes there. Also! I’ll be posting later the transcripts of Episode 1 and 2 today so if nothing else, at least you can read the episodes.

Thanks everyone for reading and I hope you enjoy the podcast! I put a lot of hard work and love into it and I’m proud with the end result.

Until next time!

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Season 1

Fossil Bonanza will Premiere on October 14th

Hey everyone! Excited news. I’ll be premiering my upcoming podcast, “Fossil Bonanza,” on October 14th, National Fossil Day! It’s been a long time coming and after working months of researching, writing, recording, and editing, I’ll finally premiere the podcast. I’m very, very excited! I’m very satisfied with the end result.

Fossil Bonanza Logo

So far, barring any major surprises, this is what the schedule will look like:
October 14th: Episode 1-Introduction and Episode 2-Beecher’s Trilobite Bed
October 28th: Episode 3-Posidonia Shale
November 11th: Episode 4-Amber Introduction
November 25th: Episode 5-Dominican Amber
December 9th: Episode 6-Jehol Biota Part 1
December 23rd: Episode 7-Jehol Biota Part 2
January 6th: Episode 8-Naracoorte Caves

The first five episodes are already finished and the last three just need to be recorded and edited. Depending on how well Season 1 does I will work on Season 2 but that will take awhile. Thankfully, since I have experience with this and know how to produce these I somewhat expect the process to be a little faster? But we’ll see.

I’ll post a link to the feed on my website and I’ll post rough transcripts of the episodes the day they premiere. Looking forward to it!

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Season 1

Season 1 Update

Hello everyone! It’s been a long time coming but I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. After months of research and writing I’m finally recording and editing season 1 of Fossil Bonanza! I can’t tell you how happy I am that this massive project will finally be released. Bar any kind of major surprises Season 1 will be as follows

Episode 1: Paleontology and Lagerstatte Introduction
Episode 2: Beecher’s Trilobite Bed
Episode 3: Posidonia Shale
Episode 4: Amber Introduction
Episode 5: Dominican Amber
Episode 6: Jehol Biota Part 1
Episode 7: Jehol Biota Part 2
Episode 8: Naracoorte Caves

I wanted to choose five amazing fossil sites that come from different time periods, geographic locations, organisms preserved, and method of preservation. I feel that these five really encompasses the diversity that Lagerstatten can achieve.

No hard plans on a release date yet but these episode will be released every two weeks with episode 1 and 2 released simultaneously.

Also, looking for guest experts to talk about Lagerstatten particularly if it relates to the five I’m focusing on. So if you have studied these fossils and are willing to spend some time with me, send me a message!

That’s all for now!

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Fossil Spotlight

Fossil Spotlight: Narrow-Nosed Rhinoceros

File:Stephanorhinus etruscus skull.JPG
Skull of the Narrow-Nosed Rhinoceros, Stephanorhinus etruscus. Image from Ghedoghedo.

Who: The Narrow-Nosed Rhinoceros, Stephanorhinus
Lagerstätte: Binagadi Asphalt Seep in Azerbaijan and other places
What: Tar pits containing thousands of fossils are found across the world with the most famous being La Brea Tar Pits in California. One of these is the Binagadi Asphalt Seep in Azerbaijan. This trap is thought to be older than La Brea dated up to 190,000 years old compared to La Brea’s 60,000 year age. Many species of animals are found here including the cave lion, cave hyena, and Irish elk. Among the most famous is the narrow-nosed rhinoceros Stephanorhinus. A full mounted skeleton is on display at the Hasanbey Zardabi Natural History Museum in Baku. The skeleton was made of bones from different specimens from the tar pit. Stephanorhinus itself was rather common during its heyday and could be found in Europe all the way to East Asia.

References:
Huseynov, Said, and John M. Harris. “AZERBAIJAN’S FOSSIL CEMETERY.” Natural History 119.3 (2010): 16-21.

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Fossil Spotlight

Fossil Spotlight: Maple Seed

Fossilized maple seed. Image from https://www.nps.gov/flfo/index.htm

Who: Maple Seed
Lagerstätte: Florissant Formation at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado
What: This is a maple seed preserved in shale at Florssiant Fossil Beds NM. The park is well known for its amazingly preserved insects and plants which are usually quite rare in the fossil record. It dates to the Eocene about 34 million years ago. Plant fossils like redwoods, hickory, elms, and rubber trees indicate that the area was once warm and humid; a far difference from its modern cold and drier climate. These plants were preserve in a lake which had occasional algal blooms. When plants or insects landed on the algal mat, they get entrapped and then fall to the lake’s bottom. The algae holds the leaves together and delicately buries them leaving a thin carbon film.

References
https://www.nps.gov/flfo/index.htm

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Fossil Spotlight

Fossil Spotlight: Mesosaur Embryo

Pictures, Diagram, and Drawings of the Mesosaur Embryo.  Image by Piñeiro et al. 2012
Picture, diagram, and drawing of the Mesosaur embryo. Image from Piñeiro et al. 2012

Who: Mesosaur embryo
Lagerstätte: Mangrullo Formation in Uruguay
What: Mesosaurs were an Early Permian group of reptiles that swam in the seas. They were the first reptiles to return to the oceans starting a marine reptile trend that would continue to this day. Many ancient marine reptiles like mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs have evolved to give live birth, called viviparity, which was crucial in their marine domination. This mesosaur embryo is the oldest known amniotic (which includes mammals, reptiles, and birds) embryo. The advance stage of the embryo suggests that mesosaurs were also viviparous or laid eggs on land which quickly hatched. Mesosaurs may have even tended to their young in a nurturing behavior. In general, eggs and embryos are rare in the fossil record due to their low fossil potential but every now and then we get lucky with a truly remarkable find like this one.

References
Piñeiro, Graciela, et al. “The oldest known amniotic embryos suggest viviparity in mesosaurs.” Historical Biology 24.6 (2012): 620-630.

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Fossil Spotlight

Fossil Spotlight: Orb-Weaver Spider in Amber

Who: Pulchellaranea pedunculata
Lagerstätte: Dominican Amber
What: Pulchellaranea is an orb-weaver spider encased in amber from the Dominican Republic. Orb-weavers are the most common group of spiders who spin the wheel-shaped webs you see in your backyard, forests, and parks. Spiders are notoriously rare in the fossil record and over 90% of spider fossils are found in amber. Their rarity is due to their fragile nature and burial difficulties as their corpses tend to float on water and not sink. Spiders are more common in amber as it gently entombs them and minimizes decay. An ant, which are quite common in the Dominican Amber, joins this spider. Their proximity indicates they fell into the amber at the same time probably after a brief interaction.

Reference
-High def image from the New Yorker
-The same image can also be found in black and white along with a description of this species here
Poinar Jr, George. “Pulchellaranea pedunculata n. gen. n. sp.(Araneae: Araneidae), a new genus of spiders with a review of araneid spiders in Cenozoic Dominican amber.” Historical Biology 27.1 (2015): 103-108.