Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: Echinoid bite marks from the Upper Cretaceous of southwestern France

November 30th, 2017

Above is another beautiful image from Paul Taylor’s paleontological lab at the Natural History Museum, London. It is one of our fossil oysters (Pycnodonte vesicularis) from the French Type Campanian collected in the town of Archiac in southwestern France on our most enjoyable expedition this past summer. The fine crossing short grooves are bite marks produced by grazing regular echinoids (sea urchins). They form the trace fossil Gnathichnus pentax Bromley, 1975. You can learn more about this type of fossil in a previous blog entry describing Cretaceous Gnathichnus from southern Israel.

This is a good time to update our readers on the French Campanian sclerobiont project. Macy Conrad (’17) has done extraordinary work identifying the hundreds of encrusting bryozoans on our oysters. She is using a series of mugshots of Campanian bryozoans produced by our colleague Paul Taylor to name our specimens as accurately as possible. All the pink you see in these trays represents bryozoans that have been identified.

Here is a closer view. Very distinct patterns of diversification of bryozoans and trace fossils upward through the stratigraphic column are emerging. Macy will continue this work next semester as she finishes her Independent Study thesis. I will be doing my parts as well, but from a bit of a distance: I’ll be on a research leave next semester.

Which leads me to this announcement: Wooster’s Fossil of the Week will no longer be weekly. Since I’ll have other writing goals and travel plans over the next several months during my leave, I will contribute blog entries less frequently. The name “Fossil of the Week” has become a bit of a brand, so I’ll keep it, just no longer post every week (which I’ve been doing since January 2, 2011).

 

 

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