Thursday, March 17, 2011

What do termites eat? Wood or bone?

These two fossils were found just a few feet from one another in the same bed of green sandstone. The first is a pretty rare item for the Uinta Formation. It's wood, the yellowish stuff.

This second one is a humerus from a large mammal (probably a Brontothere). A large portion of the proximal end (end closer to the body, left side in photos) is missing and it's not my fault. This bone shows extensive signs of insect calcium harvesting. These pits and trails were probably made by termites (dermestid beetles are another likely candidate) prior to the burial of this bone. This kind of feature (taphonomy) is actually fairly common on fossils, but it doesn't get a lot of attention because it doesn't have fangs, horns, or claws.

Sticks and stones may break my bones,


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sphenocoelus uintensis

There are three North American species of Sphenocoeuls: S. uintensis, S. intermedius, and S. hyognathus. S. uintensis is the most primitive, S. hyognathus is the most advanced, and S. intermedius is in the middle. This skull is of S. uintensis. Found by my friend Garrett, it was in some very soft (poorly cemented) sandstone matrix. So I was able to finish it in three days, hence so few progress photos.

As you can see, a lot of the teeth are missing. It was a fairly old individual because the wear on the remaining molars is very extensive. Here are the sagittal (top) and right side views of the same skull. When you compare it to the two S. intermedius skulls I prepared earlier this year (1 and 2), you can see that while those ones have more teeth, this one has more of the entire skull.

Aching finger,


Turtle Jaws (Apalone? sp.)

The most common fossils in the Uinta Formation are turtles. There are 14 or 15 different species some more common than others. But as far as I know, there are no known cranial (head) remains of fossil turtles in the Uinta Formation. So here it is folks, the first known cranial turtle material from the Uinta Formation. I didn't find them, I'm not sure to who that distinction goes (Shaun?), but I did get to prepare them. The pink stuff in the photos is Bond-O (autobody filler) which is a really strong support and bonder for delicate or large fossils. The occlusal (biting) surface of the jaws was weathered away and they got really thin toward the front, so I strengthened them with the Bond-O.

Sorry for the change in orientation,


Friday, March 04, 2011

Brontothere Cervical (Neck) Vertebrae

I'm pretty sure this vert is from a brontothere. If you look at the posterior view (2nd photo) you can see a large burrow running from top right to bottom left. It was probably made by a beetle or something scavenging the corpse before the vert was buried.
Carbonated hydroxyapatite,


Small Rhinocerous Jaw

This is a partial jaw from a small Rhinoceros. It was in very hard matrix so I only took enough off to make it small and reveal the teeth. It's missing everything forward of the last premolar. So it has p3-m3 for you anatomy types.
In this second photo you can sort of see the last molar (m3) to the left which is unerupted. So this guy was a young adult just getting his last "wisdom" tooth.No horns,