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,


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