Fossil Friday 3/25/16: A basket clam

UF221418

UF 221418, the two valves of the basket clam Caryocorbula stena. Note that the valve with the bore hole is much smaller than the other valve. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday feature is the basket clam Caryocorbula stena. This specimen was found in the Gatún Formation and is Late Miocene in age. This bivalve would have been found in shallow marine waters, burrowing just under the surface of the sediment. One interesting characteristic of this basket clam is that it is inequivalve, meaning that one valve is much larger than the other.

To learn more about this bivalve, check out the Fossils of Panama here.

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Fossil Friday 3/18/16: A gomphothere

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UF 294322, a left lower third molar (m3) of the gomphothere Gomphotherium sp. Top: occlusal view, bottom: labial view. Figure modified from MacFadden et al. 2015.

On this week’s Fossil Friday I would like to show you a gomphothere tooth from Lake Alajuela (Alajuela Formation). Gomphotheres are extinct members of the mammalian Order Proboscidea (modern-day elephants are also members of this order). This specimen was found by Dr. John Turner in 1959 when he was a high school student. He discovered the tooth when he was at the Madden Boy Scout Camp (Lake Alajuela was formerly known as Lake Madden. The age of the specimen is difficult to discern, but it is likely mid- to late Miocene/early Pliocene in age. This specimen is the first known evidence of a pre-Pleistocene proboscidean in Panama.

To learn more about this specimen, read the paper detailing its discovery and taxonomy here.

Reference

MacFadden, B. J., Morgan, G. S., Jones, D. S., Rincon, A. F. 2015. Gomphothere proboscidean (Gomphotherium) from the late Neogene of Panama. Journal of Paleontology, 89(2): 360-365. doi: 10.1017/jpa.2014.31.

Fossil Friday 3/11/16: A corallum (Flabellum sp.)

UF8906

UF 8906, the type specimen of Flabellum chipolanum. This specimen is from the Chipola Formation in Florida and is early Miocene in age. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday feature is the fossilized corallum, or coral skeleton, of a coral (Phylum Cnidaria, Class Anthozoa) called Flabellum. The fossil in the photograph is from Florida, but a specimen identified as Flabellum sp. (UF 222226) has been recovered in Panama from the Gatún Formation and is middle-late Miocene in age.

Flabellum sp. (Hard coral) with extended polyps at night

A modern day Flabellum sp. Photo © Nick Hobgood, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

Flabellids (Family Flabellidae) are solitary corals, meaning that they consist of only one polyp with a mouth surrounded by tentacles (colonial corals are made up of several polyps). They are found from the Early Cretaceous up into the present-day. Today, they can be found worldwide.

 

 

Reference:

Cairns, Stephen D. 2002. Flabellidae Bourne 1905. Version 28 October 2002. http://tolweb.org/Flabellidae/19103/2002.10.28 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

Dr. Jacquelyn Gill at UF

Today, PCP PIRE and other members of the University of Florida welcomed Dr. Jacquelyn Gill as she spoke about her research on extinction and climate change during the Pleistocene and how it can inform us about future climate change. Dr. Gill explained that large-bodied mammals helped buffer plants from changing climate and that megafaunal extinction may have caused plants to become more susceptible to the effects of climate change. Dr. Gill stressed that ecological interactions are strong factors in what decides a plant’s geographic range and that climate alone is not enough to explain geographic range – we should carefully consider these interactions when we are discussing conservation strategies for modern species. Dr. Gill is also an advocate for increasing diversity in the sciences.

To learn more about Dr. Gill’s research, follow her on Twitter and read about her lab on her webpage.

Fossil Friday 3/4/16: A fossilized fruit (Oreomunnea grahamii)

UF621-59109

UF 00621-59109, the holotype of Oreomunnea grahamii. The specimen is shown in a lateral view (A), an apical view (B), and in cross section (C). Figure modified from Herrera et al. 2014.

For this week’s Fossil Friday post, I would like to show you a fossilized fruit called Oreomunnea grahamii. It was found in 2007 at the Lirio East locality of the Cucaracha Formation and is Early Miocene in age. This fruit belongs to the Family Juglandaceae, which is commonly known as the walnut family of trees. Before the discovery of this fossil fruit, the occurrence of the modern Neotropical genus Oreomunnea was mostly restricted to the microfossil record in the form of pollen.

To learn more about this fossil fruit discovery, download the publication by clicking here.

References:

Herrera, F., Manchester, S. R., Koll, R., and Jaramillo, C. 2014. Fruits of Oreomunnea (Juglandaceae) in the early Miocene of Panama. Pages 124-133 in W. D. Stevens, O. M. Montiel, and P. Raven, editors. Paleobotany and Biogeography: A Festschrift for Alan Graham in His 80th Year. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St Louis, MO.