Fossil Friday 3/25/16: A basket clam


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.


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


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.




Cairns, Stephen D. 2002. Flabellidae Bourne 1905. Version 28 October 2002. in The Tree of Life Web Project,

Fossil Friday 1/22/16: A turrid snail


UF 208176, the shell of Hindsiclava consors. Many turrid snails are venomous and can inject venom into their prey using their specialized radula. Photo © IVP FLMNH.

This week’s Fossil Friday post features the turrid snail Hindsiclava consors (Family Turridae). H. consors would have been found in both on the Caribbean and the Pacific sides of Panama from the early Miocene to the late Pliocene. This specimen was found by Gary Morgan in the Gatún Formation and is late Miocene in age.

Christmas tree worm

Two Christmas tree worms (Spirobranchus giganteus). Photo by Nick Hobgood.

This family of predatory snails is known to prey primarily on polychaete worms (Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta). One modern-day polychaete worm is the Christmas tree worm, which uses its Christmas tree-shaped appendages for respiration and for filter feeding.

To learn more about this turrid snail, see the “Fossils of Panama” post on it here.

Fossil Friday 10/9/15: Fossils from the Gatún Formation!

For this week’s Fossil Friday I am going to send you off to see what invertebrate paleontologists Jonathan Hendricks and Alex Kittle are finding in Panama! They are conducting fieldwork in Panama along with Cristina Robins, Adiël Klompmaker, Roger Portell, Nathan Jud, Chris Nelson and our museum interns! Follow the links below to check out Jonathan Hendricks’ and Alex Kittle’s Twitter accounts and see all of the fossils they have been finding in the Gatún Formation and other localities in Panama!

Jonathan Hendricks:

Alex Kittle:


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.

All the Small Things

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on several smaller projects around the lab that have included identifying specimens from the Gatun formation, washing samples of Pacific Muck in the screen washing room, and unpacking specimen from several storage boxes in the lab. Continue reading

Fossil Friday 2/6/14: A cephalopod

A fossil of Aturia

UF 183333, a fossil shell of Aturia sp. The small holes seen on the sides of the shell may have been caused by hydrostatic pressure when the shell sank to the bottom of the ocean after the organism died. (Photo © IVP FLMNH)


A modern-day Nautilus belauensis. Photo © Manuae, from Wikimedia.

This Fossil Friday we have another invertebrate for you, Aturia. Like last week’s turritellid, Aturia is a mollusc; however, it belongs to the Class Cephalopoda. Aturia is a member of the Order Nautilida, which includes the modern-day Nautilus.This specimen was found in the lower Gatún Formation of Panama and is middle Miocene in age. The shell is divided into chambers that are visible on the outside of the shell. The chambers are connected by a duct called a siphuncle and together would have been used for buoyancy in life.

If you would like to learn a bit more about this specimen, look up its catalog number on the FLMNH Invertebrate Paleontology Collections website: