Fossil Friday 10/2/15: A prickly cockle

UF 220130

UF 220130, the prickly cockle Dallocardia baiterum. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday feature is the prickly cockle Dallocardia baiterum. This bivalve specimen was found in the Gatún Formation and is Late Miocene in age. This species is endemic to the Caribbean side of Panama.

To learn more about this specimen, read the Fossils of Panama post about it here.

Field Training at the University of Florida!

Hi all,

I am the new 2015-2016 PCP-PIRE field intern! A little about me: My name is Dipa Desai, and I came to join the PCP-PIRE project through my interest in paleoclimate science. I arrived in Gainesville last week, and have since been training with the paleobotany, invertebrate paleontology, and vertebrate paleontology departments here at UF.

The technique I’ve been learning are ways to prepare the fossils for research. In the paleobotany lab, I helped Nathan, the resident paleobotany expert and post-doc, to create acetate peels of the cross-sections of calcitic mudstone chock full of fossilized plant material. As you can see, the peel below shows a cross-section of a Parinari fruit pit, similar to a peach pit, as well as several other sections of fossilized wood and seeds.

IMG_20151002_094119_906[1]In the vertebrate paleontology lab, I learned how to prep the fossils as they come back from the field. Similar to a puzzle, I glued broken bone fragments back into complete specimens using B-72, a mild adhesive that is reversible with acetone. I also worked on removing larger bones from the plaster jackets that paleontologists use to protect the fossil en route to the lab. I used acetone to wet the matrix surrounding the bone, and gingerly brushed it off to slowly uncover more of the fossil. This particular fossil is from Thomas Farm locality in Florida, but it still gave me a good sense of how to prepare some the vertebrates I will be excavating out of Panama! IMG_20150929_132640[1]IMG_20151002_092113_508[1]In invertebrate paleontology, I created silicone molds of fossils that were preserved as internal casts. Aly and I created clay dams around the targeted cast, and poured silicone into it and let it set. The following day, we peeled the silicone molds off to reveal a 3D cast of the fossil! Here is an example of one Aly did today:IMG_20151002_095834_470[1]I definitely learned a lot these past two weeks, and I’m excited to take these skills to the field!

Fossil Friday 9/25/15: A whale rib


UF 247257, the partial rib of a whale. Photo © VP FLMNH.

For this week’s Fossil Friday, we are going to look at a partial rib of a cetacean. This specimen was found by Dr. Douglas Jones at the Las Lomas site in the Gatún Formation and is late Miocene in age. According to the reference below, based on the size and shape of the rib, it is more likely that it belonged to an odontocete, or toothed whale (ex. dolphin, orca), rather than a mysticete, or baleen whale (ex. humpback whale).


A photo of a right whale showing the baleen, which is used for filter feeding. Photo © Mason Weinrich, Whale Center of New England.

To learn more about this specimen and other marine mammals from Panama, check out the reference below!


Uhen, M., A. Coates, C. Jaramillo, C. Montes, C. Pimeinto, A. Rincon, N. Strong, and J. Velez-Juarbe. 2010. Marine mammals from the Miocene of Panama. Journal of South American Earth Sciences, p. 167, vol. 30.

Invertebrate- Air Scribe Prepping

Hi- I have been looking at samples from Alhajuela and trying to get through that material recently. We have a big echinoid that I have been preparing for days now and it is really coming along! First, Roger and I have used a hammer to get some big pieces off then I have used the air scribe to tediously remove most of the sediment attached. The air scribe makes thats irritating noise you typically hear at the dentist so I have been shut out from the rest of the lab while using it. Basically, it shoots air and vibrates and you guide it to remove hard sediment that is on, in this case, the echinoid. There is a thin layer still present which we will put the finishing touches on in the air abrasive unit. Hopefully it will be complete and ready to catalog by next week!


PS- I am covered in dirt and sediment after ecery use!

~Aly Tucker

Identifying Fossil Wood

Hello! My name is Carolyn Thornton and I’m a recent graduate from the College of Wooster in Ohio and a new museum intern in paleobotany. I’ve already had the opportunity to work on projects with fossil wood and leaves from Central America, as well as modern fruits from the family Chrysobalanaceae. A 19 million years old version of these fruits was described by Chris Nelson for a Fossil Friday a few weeks ago.

We’ve made the most headway with the fossil wood project. The wood was collected from the Miocene of Panama at Lago Alajuela and we’re working to describe them in enough detail that we can identify them and use their features to understand paleoclimate. So far we’ve definitively identified one wood to the family level.

wood 063124

Fossil wood that would later be revealed to be a member of the family Elaeocarpaceae.

I started with a particularly well-preserved piece of fossil wood (above) and cut it so that we had the three views necessary to completely describe it. Continue reading

Fossil Friday 9/18/15: A tiger shark tooth


UF 247292, an upper tooth of the tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier. Photo © VP FLMNH.

Today’s Fossil Friday is an upper tooth of the tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier. This specimen was found in El Lirio Norte of the Culebra Formation and is early Miocene in age. This shark is still found warm to tropical waters today and has a cosmopolitan distribution. Specimens of this shark are also found in the early Miocene of Brazil and India.

To read more about this specimen, read the publication on it here.


Pimiento C., Gonzalez G., Hendy A., Jaramillo C., MacFadden B.J., Montes C., Suarez S.C., Shippritt M. 2013. Early Miocene chondrichthyans from the Culebra Formation, Panama: A window into marine vertebrate faunas before closure of the Central American Seaway. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 42: 159-170

Summer 2015 Field Interns in the News!

Summer 2015 Field Intern Isaac Magallanes and his work in the Panama Canal were recently featured in the Orange County Register! Check out the article on the newspaper’s website:

Michael Ziegler from this summer’s internship was also featured in a news article on his school’s website! Click the link to go to read the article on the Georgia College State University website:

The August/September edition of the PCP PIRE eNewsletter is here!

The newest edition of the PCP PIRE eNewsletter just came out yesterday! This issue features articles from the Summer 2015 field interns on the Azuero Field Course, the GABI RET trip, the Nebraska field conference and a reflection on the Summer 2015 field internship as a whole. We’ve also got research articles on recent PCP PIRE publications featuring the giant shark Megalodon and the deer-like protoceratid Paratoceras. Click here to read the August/September edition of the eNewsletter!


Nebraska Field Conference attendees Miranda Armour-Chelu, Lisa Lundgren and Joseph Boyle walk through Toadstool Geologic Park in Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Cristina Robins.

Fossil Friday 9/11/15: A dove snail


UF 221284, the snail of the dove snail Strombina lessepsiana. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

On this Fossil Friday, I am presenting a dove snail called Strombina lessepsiana, which is a member of the marine snail family Columbellidae. This specimen was collected in the lower Gatún Formation and is late Miocene in age. This little snail was found on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Panama and Colombia during the late Miocene. It was an omnivore and would eat macroalgae and live or dead animal material.

To learn more about this dove snail, read the Fossils of Panama entry on it here.

Same old bones, just a different day.

Guess who’s back for a second round with the PCP-PIRE project! Yes, this time I find myself here in scenic Gainesville, FL at the Florida Museum of Natural History to experience the next step in the fossil specimens’ journey from the field to becoming integral parts of the Panamanian Collections. So far I have spent a good deal of my time divided between three primary tasks: my research projects, fossil preparation, and cataloging of the specimens amongst their peers in the endless sea of cabinets they’re housed in. My first days were dedicated to the cleaning of an assortment of artiodactyl, protoceratid, and horse mandibles, as well as a titanothere tooth. Continue reading