Tuesday, August 2, 2011

And the winner is....

LucasoTheMighty wins the honorary Riveredge Award as "Blog Fossil Braniac"!!

The trilobite (Calymene celebra) became our state fossil in 1985. This fossil is a marine creature from the early/mid Paleozoioc age (per UW-Madison Geology dept.)  It is related to the crabs, lobsters and spiders we know today.

Along with trilobites, other cool fossils are common finds in our Wisconsin soils.

Yes, I know that it looks like a chunk of asphalt from current road construction, but it is actually a clump of prehistoric coral. Like modern coral, it was made from hundreds of polyps that cemented their calcite "homes" into colonies.

Horn Coral
These teeth-looking cones are also coral polyps. Instead of cementing into a colony, the polyp would bury its shell point into the sea floor.

Brachiopod: Pentamerus
The brachiopod earns itself the title of "most common seashell fossil" in Wisconsin. They were similar to a clam; two shells, closed itself in for protection. Current brachiopods living in the ocean are less common and not as diverse than the ones we had when Wisconsin was underwater.

Crinoid (aka sea lilies)
This beautiful creature is not actually a flower (although I wouldn't mind a bouquet of them) but are actually related to starfish and sea urchins. They "hunted" by waiving their arms in the water and catching food as it swam by. After the crinoid died, calcite plates from off. These "cheerio" looking plates are a common fossil find.

Mammoth and Mastadons

We have both! The mammoth (left) has smooth teeth that grind grasses whereas mastodons (right) have large ridges that grind woody twigs.  Over 100 years ago some kids from a farm in Boaz, WI found the mastodon that is on display at the Geology Museum.

Giant Beaver

These bear-sized beavers also lived during the Ice Age (10,000 – 12,000 BP). The part most commonly found (no surprise) are their teeth. It kinda makes you think about the size of trees they were chomping down!

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