Twisty little encrusting tubeworms: A new paper describes two new Jurassic spirorbin species, pushing back the origin of the group and giving us a nice paleoecological evolution narrative.

Several of my colleagues and I have been studying the fossil records of tubeworms for almost three decades now. We find them especially interesting because they are often beautifully preserved on hard substrates like shells, rocks and hardgrounds. They represent a relatively simply paleoecological niche: small sessile benthic filter-feeders. Tubeworms are also systematically diverse and polyphyletic (no common tubeworm ancestor). They show much evolutionary convergence over time between separate groups. One of the most dramatic comparisons (if there is drama in such esoteric topics) is between the extinct microconchids and the extant spirorbin serpulids. Their little shells can be nearly identical, separable primarily bu different skeletal microstructures. Microconchids and spirorbins are in the same ecological niche, but when did the former give way to the latter? We now have new evidence that narrows the time gap between the two clades.

Two years ago I had a look through a set of crinoid columns collected in the Callovian (Middle Jurassic) Matmor Formation of southern Israel. The fantastic fossils in the Matmor have been the basis of many papers (and blog posts) from my research group over the past two decades. (The top image of this post shows some of these fossils in the field. Note the abundant crinoid columns.) I was revisiting these crinoid columns for some crinoid-related idea I’ve now forgotten. Instead, I noticed tiny little spiral tubeworms encrusting some of the crinoids. This was immediately an issue — they were either the youngest microconchids (which are Bathonian, a stage below) or the oldest spirorbins (up until now in the Cretaceous, a system above). They fell into the stratigraphic gap between these groups.

I sent the specimens immediately to my friend and colleague Olev Vinn in Estonia. He determined through analysis of the microstructure that these Callovian tubes were of the earliest spirorbins, and that they represented two new species. We invited two other experts into the project who had their own mysterious Middle Jurassic tubeworms. Our paper has now appeared in the journal PalZ. Here is the abstract —

Two new spirorbin species, Neomicrorbis israelicus sp. nov. and Spirorbis? hagadolensis sp. nov., are here described from the Callovian of Israel, together with two new variations of Neomicrorbis israelicus from the late Bathonian of northern France and Callovian of Madagascar. These are the geologically earliest true Spirorbinae. Our new data, and a literature review of microconchids and early spirorbins, suggest that the ecological switchover from spirorbiform microconchids to spirorbin polychaetes took place in the late Bathonian, and that the spread of spirorbins across the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous seas was rapid. The ecospace of spirally coiled spirorbiform microconchids could thus have been competitively taken over by true spirorbins. The true spirorbin polychaetes may have been ecologically more successful than their Paleozoic analogues – the microconchids. The general rarity of spirorbin-bearing localities in Europe from the Bathonian to Albian supports the hypothesis that the Spirorbinae likely originated in the equatorial Tethys and only occasionally spread to the northern hemisphere seas until the end of the Early Cretaceous. Spirorbins finally became common, diverse and widespread in the northern seas by the Late Cretaceous, and even more so in the Cenozoic.

Spirorbins from the Callovian of Hamakhtesh Hagadol, Israel. a Longitudinal section of the tube showing growth lamellae characteristic of the serpulids. b Section through the tube showing open tube origin and lack of protoconch. c Neomicrorbis israelicus sp. nov. encrusting a crinoid stem. d–e Neomicrorbis israelicus sp. nov. (holotype) showing four longitudinal keels. f. Neomicrorbis israelicus sp. nov. (paratype). Scale bars: a, b, e, f 300 um; c 5 mm; d 400 um. (From Figure 1 of Vinn et al., 2024.)

a–d Spirorbis? hagadolensis sp. nov. from the Callovian of Hamakhtesh Hagadol, Israel. Note lack of the longitudinal keels and rounded tube cross-section. Scale bars: a 400 um; b 200 um; c, d 300 um. (From Figure 4 of Vinn et al., 2024.)

I tell my students to always look for anomalies in scientific observations and data. There are stories to be told when you find something out of place. This is also a case of specimens in a collection being useful for projects unknown at the time they were gathered. This is one reason why have museums to preserve items for unknown future discoveries. The spirobin tubeworms here are certainly not charismatic fossils, but they nonetheless fill in an important evolutionary gap.

Reference:

Vinn, O. Wilson, M.A., Jäger, M. and Kočí, T. 2024. The earliest true Spirorbinae from the late Bathonian and Callovian (Middle Jurassic) of France, Israel and Madagascar. PalZ (in press) https://doi.org/10.1007/s12542-023-00681-7

 

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Examining Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) North American dinosaur teeth and their palaeoecological implications in the Hell Creek Formation of Carter County, Montana – The Independent Study project of Hudson Davis (’24)

Editor’s Note: Independent Study (IS) at The College of Wooster is a three-course series required of every student before graduation. Earth Sciences students typically begin in the second semester of their junior years with project identification, literature review, and a thesis essentially setting out the hypotheses and parameters of the work. Most students do fieldwork or lab work to collect data, and then spend their senior years finishing extensive Senior I.S. theses. The following is Hudson’s thesis abstract —

The Hell Creek Formation is an iconic Late Cretaceous formation that is found throughout the states of Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. Even though it has been studied for over 100 years, questions about the paleoecosytem it represents still need further research. I here examine dinosaur teeth from the Hell Creek of Carter County, Montana, a section that is understudied compared to other exposures of the formation. While many studies focus on the dinosaur fauna of this ecosystem, most of these studies focus on skeletal material. Dinosaur teeth are abundant within microvertebrate sites in the Hell Creek, and these teeth can tell and confirm similar information to that of the skeletal remains, while also providing information that preservation bias might otherwise obscure. By conducting a tooth census comprised of 1,505 dinosaur teeth and comparing that to similar skeletal censuses, I hypothesize that while certain fauna like Triceratops will, as reflected in the skeletal record, be the most abundant tooth taxa, other species not as common from skeletal remains, such as dromaeosaurs, will be more common from teeth surveys, as their hollow bones are subject to preservation bias. I also predict that different lithologies of microsites will contain different teeth assemblages due to niche partitioning within the environment.

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Morphological Descriptions of Freshwater Sponge Spicules from Brown’s Lake and Their Potential as Paleoenvironmental Proxies When Supplemented with Diatom Biostratigraphy – The Independent Study project of Garrett Ross Robertson (’24)

Editor’s Note: Independent Study (IS) at The College of Wooster is a three-course series required of every student before graduation. Earth Sciences students typically begin in the second semester of their junior years with project identification, literature review, and a thesis essentially setting out the hypotheses and parameters of the work. Most students do fieldwork or lab work to collect data, and then spend their senior years finishing extensive Senior I.S. theses. The following is Garrett’s thesis abstract —

The BLGR – 01 core, a 1.5-meter sediment core from a kettle lake near Shreve, Ohio, and dated with 210Pb, and 14C records changes in climate, ecology, and sedimentation from the last 2,000 years of the Holocene. Siliceous freshwater sponge spicules and diatom frustule microfossils from the BLGR – 01 core were collected and analyzed to measure population dynamics through time as well as to infer ecological changes in the lake. Our hypothesis that sponge and diatom data would supplement one another was not supported, as sponge data was not of a high enough resolution; but both proxies revealed changes unrelated to one another.

Using the wet oxidation method, 3 genera of freshwater sponge (Racekilea, Heteromeyenia, Anheteromeyenia) and two individual species were identified based on spicule morphology via light microscopy. Sponge biostratigraphy results display a sustained community prior to local deforestation, followed by an abrupt disappearance in silty intervals, concluding with a reemergence 20 years ago. One sponge genus remains locally extinct in Brown’s Lake.

Seventeen diatom genera were recorded, and the eight most prominent (Eunotia, Tabellaria, Cyclotella, Lindavia, Discostella, Gomphonema, Stauroneis, Navicula) were counted at 5cm intervals on smear slides. Spikes and dips in diatom populations suggest periods of warming and cooling that affected these organisms. Radiocarbon dating confirmed the presence of peat that accumulated during the Late Antique Little Ice Age, which was corroborated by the low numbers of diatom frustules in the bottom 30cm of the core.

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On Thinning Ice: A Geoscientific Perspective on the Politics of Resource Exploration in a Changing Arctic – The Independent Study project of Athena Tharenos (’24)

Editor’s Note: Independent Study (IS) at The College of Wooster is a three-course series required of every student before graduation. Earth Sciences students typically begin in the second semester of their junior years with project identification, literature review, and a thesis essentially setting out the hypotheses and parameters of the work. Most students do fieldwork or lab work to collect data, and then spend their senior years finishing extensive Senior I.S. theses. The following is Athena’s thesis abstract —

Climate forecasting predicts that the decline in northern sea ice will render the Central Arctic Ocean fully accessible for shipping and petroleum extraction purposes by mid-century. These international waters present an opportunity for non-Arctic and Arctic nations to compete and collaborate for regional influence. Such prospects remain possible only with the rapid deterioration of our planet’s northernmost cryosphere, a positive feedback loop that is spurring environmentally harmful trends. Still, the notion of an ice-free Arctic has excited the international community for new opportunities: those contingent upon ecosystem collapse and defined by exploitive opportunism. As local states vie for exclusive control of these emerging northern resources, international bodies aim to humble their authority by promoting sustainable legislation to safeguard global common interests. In making the recent changes that are being experienced by the region a matter of global concern, various parties have leveraged the Arctic situation for their own gain. Ironically, these include both international bodies fighting against environmental degradation as well as those transnational corporations and governing powers looking to seize geoeconomic and geopolitical assets. I call this “the problematization of the Far North.” After reviewing the opportunities and obstacles presented to humanity by the loss of northern sea ice, I am forced to concede that our “Arctic problem” is far too complex for any one proposed solution. The convergence of environmental consciousness and resource competition in the region presents a clear conflict of interest for nation-states. It is impossible to balance the needs of all involved stakeholders without contradicting even the most innocent of intentions. We as a species must abandon our neocolonialist ethos and instead implement effective and sustainable legislation distinguished by community-led adaptive policy. How international and regional leaders choose to address the changes in the Arctic will have global repercussions for climate action and geopolitical cooperation. To understand humanity’s role in the Far North, we must remember to consider the larger consequences associated with our proximate gains and treat the great natural forces of our planet with patience and respect. For future generations to be able to meet their needs, it is essential we proceed with a careful balance of priorities and an urgent commitment to the common good.

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The Coevolution of Humankind and Lake Erie: Past, Present, and Future Interactions – The Independent Study project of Natalie Tanner (’24)

Editor’s Note: Independent Study (IS) at The College of Wooster is a three-course series required of every student before graduation. Earth Sciences students typically begin in the second semester of their junior years with project identification, literature review, and a thesis essentially setting out the hypotheses and parameters of the work. Most students do fieldwork or lab work to collect data, and then spend their senior years finishing extensive Senior I.S. theses. Natalie Tanner was advised by Mark Wilson (me!) and Nigel Brush because she was a double major in Environmental Geoscience and Anthropology. The following is her thesis abstract —

This Independent Study fosters a dynamic conversation between the communities and stakeholders of Lake Erie, focusing on the cultural evolution, resource exploitation, and conservation practices behind these interactions. This discussion will suggest how to best implement more effective conservation policies in the Lake Erie watershed by examining the importance of the lake to the ecosystem, the relationship between the lake and surrounding communities, and how stakeholder groups propose conservation efforts to the public. The importance of Lake Erie to the regional environment and hydroclimate cannot be understated. Local communities are not only reliant on the lake for food, water, and recreation, but also its role in maintaining the regional climate and ecosystems. Cultural evolution leads to specific resource exploitation to maintain large populations, in this case, often leading to pollutants entering the lake. Human-sourced pollution dates back to Indigenous agriculture, where archeological evaluations of Indigenous sites and their geologic environments suggest that pre-European contact agriculture would have directly caused an increase of sedimentation in Lake Erie. Today, stakeholder groups hold the power to decide the resource exploitation and conservation efforts applied to Lake Erie. Yet often the communities and stakeholders alike feel their efforts fall short of success.

The contamination of the Lake Erie watershed greatly affects the surrounding
communities, not the stakeholders, and yet the communities are not the ones allotted the power to decide the goals of conservation efforts. Theorist, Carol Carpenter, suggests that without the support and involvement of the communities, implementing effective conservation efforts will not often be successful. This conversation will ideally persuade local stakeholders to conduct policy changes regarding their communication techniques and involvement with the populations living in the Lake Erie watershed. Ultimately encouraging stakeholders to place some of their decision-making power back in the hands of the community members and closing the sociopolitical and socioeconomic gaps that are often so prevalent in conservation today.

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The Geoheritage of the Sõrve Peninsula, Saaremaa Island, Estonia: A Silurian Marine Paradise

A geoheritage site is a location where the geological features are worth preserving for scientific and cultural reasons. It is a relatively new term dating back to the 1990s. The purpose of designating a geoheritage site is to mark it as special to protect it from degradation or destruction. The label has no legal status (yet), but it is a start on conserving important geological resources with value beyond the real estate they occupy or resources they contain. There is even now a journal titled Geoheritage for publishing accounts of these places.

My friend Olev Vinn of the University of Tartu suggested that two locations on the Sõrve Peninsula of Saaremaa Island, Estonia, should be designated geoheritage sites for their remarkable Upper Silurian rocks and fossils. He put together a team of paleontologists to work on the paper, and I was fortunate to join them. Olev and I have worked together in Estonia since 2006, and have had many colleagues and Wooster students with us since then (including Professor Bill Ausich of The Ohio State University since 2009).

Our paper has now appeared in Geoheritage. Here is the abstract —

The Upper Silurian exposures on Saaremaa Island, mostly represented by small coastal cliffs, are the best in Estonia. Among these exposures are two coastal cliffs that are in many ways unique. The Pridoli crinoid fauna at Kaugatuma and the Ohesaare cliffs contains several endemic genera such as Methabocrinus, Saaremaacrinus, and Velocrinus, which occur exclusively in the Pridoli of Saaremaa Island. These localities have great potential for future studies of crinoid paleobiology and paleoecology. The fossil symbiotic associations have high value for studies devoted to evolutionary paleoecology. The Kaugatuma and Ohesaare cliffs yield the only symbiotic associations that are known from the Pridoli worldwide. Both cliffs are also famous localities of early vertebrates. The Kaugatuma and Ohesaare cliffs are places of scenic beauty, and the rarity of fossiliferous Pridoli outcrops in the Baltic Sea region makes these cliffs important destinations for European geotourism.

The image at the top of this post is of the Kaugatuma-Lõo ripple-mark coast on the Sõrve Peninsula, one of my favorite geological places. Bedding-plane exposures like this are unusual on the island. This one has numerous crinoid holdfasts (functionally “roots”) and stems of crinoids, many quite large. These are the Middle Äigu Beds of the Kaugatuma Formation. It was essentially a well-preserved crinoid forest on the Silurian seafloor. Palmer Shonk (’10) did his Wooster Senior Independent Study field descriptions and collections here. (He is in the yellow shirt above.) This site also has historical importance as the location of a WWII Soviet amphibious landing in November 1944.

Crinoid holdfast in the Middle Äigu Beds of the Kaugatuma Formation on the Kaugatuma-Lõo ripple-mark coast. This structure is like the tap root of a tree. It penetrated the sediment, tapering downwards, and produced lateral branches (radices) which held the crinoid in place in the energetic marine environment.

Another view of the cross-bedded Äigu Beds of the Kaugatuma Formation on the Kaugatuma-Lõo ripple-mark coast.

The two geoheritage sites on Saaremaa Island, Estonia. (From Figure 1 of the Geoheritage paper.)

This project brings back many delightful memories of fieldwork in Estonia. In fact, we still continue to study our collections for additional research projects. Thank you, Olev, for your leadership over the past two decades!

Reference:

Vinn, O., Wilson, M.A., Isakar, M. and Toom, U. 2024. Two high value geoheritage sites on Sõrve Peninsula (Saaremaa Island, Estonia): a window to the unique Late Silurian fauna. Geoheritage (in press) https://doi.org/10.1007/s12371-024-00957-7

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My last class at Wooster: Sedimentology & Stratigraphy in the Spring Semester of 2024

The delightful students above are shown on the last day of the Spring 2024 semester edition of the Sedimentology & Stratigraphy course. I’m retiring from the College of Wooster in August of 2024, so they are my final students. Thank you to Professor Greg Wiles for taking this group photo. It was an excellent class to end my 43-year teaching career at Wooster. They were enthusiastic, creative, smart, and curious. We met every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00 am, and they never failed to be lively and engaged. I have been remarkably fortunate to have been able to teach generations of students like these. Here’s to their future success in whatever endeavors they choose to explore!

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The encrusters who went missing: A new paper on the taphonomy of bryozoans that encrusted brachiopods in the Late Ordovician of the Cincinnati region, USA

I’ve spent much of my career investigating marine sclerobionts through time. A sclerobiont is an organism that lives on or within a hard substrate. Among marine sclerobionts are oysters that encrust cephalopod shells, barnacles attached to boat hulls, and clams that bore into coral reef. My favorite historical examples are the sclerobiont communities inhabiting the abundant brachiopod shells in the Cincinnati Group (Upper Ordovician) of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. These diverse assemblages, like those on the brachiopod shell above, are fun to study because they record fossilized organisms in their original positions (in situ) on these hard substrates. This means we can plot out relative timing of community development by mapping overlapping encrusters and borings that cut through the resulting encruster stratigraphy.

But what if occasionally encrusters were removed from these assemblages without leaving any traces of their existence? This is the dilemma described in a new Historical Biology paper by myself and colleagues Caroline Buttler and Olev Vinn. Below is the abstract with some of the critical figures —

Abstract — The abundant shells and hardgrounds in the Cincinnatian Group (Upper Ordovician, Katian) of the upper midwestern United States were commonly encrusted and bored by a variety of organisms. Numerous studies of these sclerobiont communities have provided valuable data for models of ecological succession, symbiosis, space and food resource competition, and taphonomy. An underlying assumption of this work is that most of the skeletal encrusters have remained in place, firmly attached to their hard substrates. This is especially the case with the most common encrusters, thick trepostome bryozoan and cystoporate skeletons, on their most common substrates, flat strophomenide brachiopods. We present evidence here, though, that these bryozoans were often dislodged from their brachiopod hosts, leaving no evidence of their attachment other than horizontal borings in semi-relief from organisms that excavated tunnels (Trypanites and Palaeosabella) at the interface of the brachiopod shell and attaching bryozoan. Similar borings are found on the bases of dislodged bryozoans and in bryoimmured mollusc external moulds. These borings along the bryozoan attachment surfaces caution us that there are significant numbers of missing skeletal encrusters on these hard substrates.

Figure 1. External ventral valves of Cincinnatian strophomenide brachiopods showing Trypanites and Palaeosabella borings in semi-relief (‘unroofed’), location C/W-153 (A, B, E, F), and attachment surfaces (undersides) of trepostome bryozoans showing Trypanites and Palaeosabella borings in semi-relief (‘unfloored’), location C/W-148 (C, D). (A) Unroofed borings in a variety of directions in the brachiopod valve; specimen #CW153–1. (B) Unroofed borings perpendicular to the brachiopod commissure; specimen #CW153–2. (C) Mostly Palaeosabella borings distinguished by distal clavate terminations; specimen #CW148–1. (D) Mostly Trypanites borings with cylindrical forms; specimen #CW148–2. (E) External ventral valve; specimen #CW153–3. (F) Internal ventral valve; specimen #CW153–4.

Figure 2. Thin sections (A–E) Location C/W- 153 and acetate peel (F) Location C/W-148, perpendicular to brachiopod valves encrusted by bryozoans colonies, all extensively bored. (A) Borings infilled with dolomite rhombs (right) and calcite (left); specimen #CW153–5. (B) Borings infilled with micrite, some within brachiopod shell, and other cutting through shell and encrusting bryozoans; specimen #CW153–6. (C) Borings infilled with dolomite rhombs and micrite; specimen #CW153–5. (D) Borings showing two ghosts inside, suggesting that the soft-bodied organism was U-shaped along the axis of the boring; specimen #CW153–7. (E) Small boring within brachiopod shell infilled with calcite; specimen #CW153–7. (F) Brachiopod valve encrusted with a trepostome bryozoan with two cylindrical borings parallel to the shell: the one on the right cuts through the brachiopod and encrusting bryozoan; specimen #CW148–3.

Figure 3. Diagram showing the proposed process for forming unroofed borings in brachiopods and unfloored borings in encrusting bryozoans. (A) Cross-section of brachiopod valve with encrusting bryozoan attached; the borings are perpendicular to the cross-section plane; note borings that excavate both the brachiopod shell and the overlying encrusting bryozoan. (B) Same cross-section with the encrusting bryozoan detached, leaving unfloored borings in the bryozoan base and unroofed borings in the brachiopod valve.

The implications of this taphonomic process that can remove encrusting bryozoans from shelly substrates include the important reminder that critical information is always missing from our paleontological data sets. In this case even the simple observation that a particular fossil brachiopod is not encrusted does not mean it wasn’t previously encrusted before burial.

Reference cited:

Wilson, M.A., Buttler, C.J. and Vinn, O. 2024. Traces of missing encrusters: borings reveal sclerobiont taphonomy in the Upper Ordovician (Katian) of the Cincinnati region, USA. Historical Biology (in press). https://doi.org/10.1080/08912963.2024.2312402

 

 

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Geochemistry Adventure in a Flooded Killbuck Marsh

On Wednesday Dr. Matecha’s Geochemistry class took a trip out to Killbuck Marsh to collect water samples for a research project.

This week saw Ohio and Wooster especially inundated with heavy rain, which led to some very interesting conditions for the trip.

From the first sampling site the class could tell they would have to get creative. Flooded roads weren’t a deterrent for this class though! They embraced the challenge with their mud boots.

Dr. Matecha was contemplating whether the other sites would be accessible.

Students used their resources to collect samples, even from some harder to reach spots.

And sure enough, the next road was also flooded.

But once again this class marched out into the water undaunted.

Finally, an unflooded road! Though the channel here had flooded far beyond its normal banks.

Students were not impressed by the amount of trash people had been throwing into the marsh.

The area was so flooded that Savage Run creek couldn’t even be separated from the marsh anymore.

Despite the flooded road the class was able to approach the other side of the marsh to access some of the sampling sites.

One of the interesting locations was by a retired oil well, where students could smell gas.

Along Clark Rd. the channel had flooded over both walking paths that follow the channel.

A few of the most adventurous students got in a little over their heads, or should I say boots? Quite a few pairs of wet feet were had by the end of the day.

But as always this didn’t diminish the class’s spirit in the slightest.

In the end the class was able to collect a nice variety of samples, build their field skills, and had a fun day exploring Killbuck Marsh. We are excited to see what the chemistry of their water samples tells us about the marsh and local environment in the next few weeks. The class will be presenting their findings as part of their final project.

 

 

 

 

 

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An ancient name remembered

In the summer of 2018 I traveled to Wales for a conference in Cardiff. Immediately afterwards I visited my dear fiends Caroline and Tim Palmer in Aberystwyth, and they gave me a tour of Welsh sites they found particularly interesting. It was a spectacular trip, and I learned and saw so much.

One afternoon we visited a sixth century memorial stone in a field near the coastal village of Penbryn, western Wales. (The image above is from this site.) It is a micaceous ferruginous medium sandstone block about 1.4 meters high inscribed with “CORBALENGI IACIT ORDOVS”, which translates to: “Of Corbalengus (here) he lies, an Ordovician”. This carved stone is Celtic and one of the very few monuments mentioning the Ordovices tribe, which is the namesake for the Ordovician Period. Corbalengus is thus popularly known as the “Last of the Ordovicians”, or at least the last of the tribe for which there is any record.

Tim and I thought at the time that Corbalengus should be memorialized in the taxonomic record, recognizing the connection between the Ordovician Period and the vanished tribe for whom it is named. This year my Estonian, Russian and German colleagues and I had the opportunity to name a new species of Ordovician tubeworm as Conchicolites corbalengus Vinn, Wilson, Madison, Ernst and Toom 2024 (pictured below). Appropriately, it is from the Hirnantian Epoch at the end of the Ordovician.

Conchicolites corbalengus is from an abundant and diverse fauna of cornulitid tubeworms found in Estonia. These particular tubeworms appear to be dwarf forms compared to other varieties. These specimens also suggest that cornulitid tubeworms were little affected by the Late Ordovician extinctions. Our work here is part of a larger effort to describe the evolution and paleoecology of tubeworms through the Phanerozoic. They are excellent subjects for this kind of work because they have a moderate number of morphological features that are easily studied and assessed.

This story, though, is about the mysterious Corbalengus, for whom we have only a carved name on a lonely Welsh stone in a field. He must have had some notable reputation in life to merit the carving and erection of a monument, but we’re unlikely to ever know the details. But he had a name. One of my favorite childhood songs was Jim Croce’s 1973 hit “I Got a Name” —

Like the pine trees lining the winding road
I’ve got a name, I’ve got a name
Like the singin’ bird and the croakin’ toad
I’ve got a name, I’ve got a name

And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I’m livin’ the dream that he kept hid

Corbalengus may not have been thrilled to be immortalized by an extinct and nearly-microscopic wormtube, but the fact that we know his name at all is a tribute to ancient stonework and the modern system of taxonomic records.

Reference:

Vinn, O., Wilson, M.A., Madison, A., Ernst, A. and Toom, U. 2024. Dwarf cornulitid tubeworms from the Hirnantian (Late Ordovician) of Estonia. Historical Biology DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2024.2318796

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