Tools of My Trade (At Least for Today)

September 3rd, 2009

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MAKHTESH GADOL, ISRAEL–The fieldwork could not have been better, although if you watched me all day in the desert sunlight you would have thought otherwise. After I hiked up into the Matmor Hills to find the right horizon, I spent hours in the same place collecting fossils off the surface and sieving the sediments to obtain tiny shells (especially of thecideide brachiopods). The goal is to thoroughly understand the paleontology of this unit, including how these organisms interacted with each other in that ancient Jurassic sea. The persistence paid off with a diverse set of brachiopods, corals, sponges, echinoids, serpulid worms, bivalves, gastropods, and the first ammonite I’ve seen in the Matmor Formation. There is enough complexity in this one site to support at least another two Senior Independent Study projects.

This view of a coral in cross-section shows how complex bioerosion can be.  You can see several holes in the brown coral matrix filled with white sediment.  Inside these borings are cross-sections of bivalve shells.  Note that some borings have more than one set, meaning the hole was occupied by nestling clams after the borer died.  The patches of shiny grey are silicified regions of the coral skeleton.  Since the coral was aragonitic, its original skeleton has been replaced by several minerals.

This view of a coral in cross-section shows how complex bioerosion can be. You can see several holes in the brown coral matrix filled with light tan sediment. Inside these borings are cross-sections of bivalve shells. Note that some borings have more than one set, meaning the hole was occupied by nestling clams after the borer died. The patches of shiny grey are silicified regions of the coral skeleton. Since the coral was aragonitic, its original skeleton has been replaced by several minerals.

2 Responses to “Tools of My Trade (At Least for Today)”

  1. Elyssa Krivicichon 03 Sep 2009 at 11:51 am

    Hi Mark! Congrats on finding the ammonite!

  2. Mark Wilsonon 03 Sep 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I’ll show you a photo here, Elyssa!

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