Archive for November 27th, 2011

Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: an orthid brachiopod (Upper Ordovician of Indiana)

November 27th, 2011

This beautiful brachiopod is Vinlandostrophia ponderosa (Foerste, 1909), an orthid brachiopod from the Maysvillian (Upper Ordovician) of southern Indiana. Until recently it had been traditionally known as Platystrophia ponderosa until a critical paper by Zuykov and Harper (2007) investigated the “Platystrophia plexus” of species and convincingly made P. ponderosa the type species of Vinlandostrophia.

Brachiopods are filter-feeding, bivalved marine invertebrates who have been with us since the Cambrian Period. They were among the most common animals of the Ordovician. The fossils of the Cincinnatian Series in southern Indiana, southwestern Ohio and northern Kentucky have extraordinary numbers and varieties of fossil brachiopods — so many they roll under your feet in some places.

August F. Foerste (1862-1936) described what he called Platystrophia ponderosa in 1909. He was a pioneering paleontologist who grew up and worked in the Dayton area. Foerste went to Denison University where he was a very successful undergraduate, publishing several geological papers. He returned to Dayton after graduation with a PhD from Harvard, teaching high school for 38 years. When he retired he was offered a teaching position at the University of Chicago, but instead went to work at the Smithsonian Institution until the end of his life.

This is, by the way, the 500th post of the Wooster Geologists blog. It is great fun.

References:

Foerste, A.F. 1909. Preliminary notes on Cincinnatian fossils. Denison University, Scientific Laboratories, Bulletin 14: 208-231.

Zuykov, M.A. and Harper, D.A.T. 2007. Platystrophia (Orthida) and new related Ordovician and Early Silurian brachiopod genera. Estonian Journal of Earth Science 56: 11-34.