Some Favorite Fossil Brachiopods Of Mine

(In No Particular Order Of Preference, By The Way)

An Ordovician Period Brachiopod:

Pedicle view of an orthid brachiopod I collected several years ago from the world-famous lower middle Ordovician Kanosh Shale, western Utah. In addition to abundant beautiful brachiopods, the Kanosh yields coquinas composed of ostracods (a bivalved crustacean), trilobites, sponges and echinoderms. Also common are perfectly preserved graptolites and conodonts, plus several species of gastropods. The brachiopod, in actual dimensions, is 12 millimeters wide (almost a half inch) and 10 millimeters long (roughly three-eights of an inch).

A Pennsylvanian Period Brachiopod:

Brachial view of a Spirifer brachiopod I collected a number of years ago from the Upper Pennsylvanian Hartford Limestone, eastern Kansas. The brach came from an abandoned rock quarry I used to frequent while I resided in Kansas--a paleontologically prolific locality that yielded abundant, fantastically preserved invertebrates from a number of groups: brachiopods, bryozoans (both twig and stem-like types, plus lattice-style fenestellids), fusulinids (an extinct single-celled animal that secreted small wheat-shaped shells that bear intricate internal geometric designs), rugose and tabulate corals and extraordinarily long crinoid stems, primarily. It was a special place to collect from, indeed. The Spirifer is 35 millimeters wide (about one and five-eights inch) and 22 millimeters long (roughly seven-eights inch).

A Pleistocene Epoch Brachiopod:

Here's a brachial view of a Terebratella brachiopod I collected some years ago from the Lower Pleistocene Santa Barbara Formation, California. I found the brach during excursions to a wildly fossiliferous locality while I resided in Santa Barbara. What's particularly fascinating about this Santa Barbara brachiopod is that the original shell material has been preserved fully intact--without any kind of mineralization (such as silicification, for example). In the vicinity of where I collected the Terebratella, numerous other invertebrate groups occur in mind-boggling abundance (at least they used to, anyhow...)--all with their original shell material preserved without altering by minerals: scores of species of gastropods (including many usually elusive operculums) and pelecypods, bryozoans, corals, foraminifers, massive calcareous algal developments and even worm tubes. In actual dimension, the Santa Barbara brach is 45 millimeters wide (around one and three-quarters inch) and 47 millimeters long (just a little less than two inches).

A sidelight here: While I lived in Santa Barbara, California, several years ago, I had the great fortune to investigate, from time to time, the western-most outcrops of the famed Middle Miocene Temblor Formation--it's exposed "on the backside of Santa Barbara," above the coastal town on the northern side of the Santa Ynez Mountains. The Temblor Formation, of course, is the same geologic rock unit that contains the world-famous Sharktooth Hill Bone Bed near Bakersfield, California. While I was never able to locate any shark teeth in it, I did happily collect many mollusks from the Cenozoic Era deposit (gastropods and pelecypods), in addition to a few brachiopods and even abundant (at least at one specific stratigraphic interval) sand dollars. Oh, yes, and I observed in the field one other tantalizing specimen--a fragmental humerus from a marine mammal...So, perhaps, those Santa Barbara Temblor Formation exposures demand additional field examinations. Who knows just what might lurk there: another shark tooth bonanza, somewhere?

A Devonian Period Brachiopod:

Pedicle view of a Meristella brachiopod I collected from the Middle Devonian Nevada Formation, Nevada. This particular specimen's shell has been silicified--that is replaced by silicon dioxide, lending to the surface an aesthetically pleasing silvery sheen. Occurring with numerous species of brachs within the widespread Nevada Formation are abundant corals (both rugose and tabulate) and "spaghetti"-type stromatoporoids (a sponge), echinoderms (crinoidal debris) and occasional gastropods, primarily. Actual dimensions of the Nevada Formation brachiopod are 25 millimeters wide (one inch) and 22 millimeters long (seven-eights of an inch).

Triassic Period Brachiopods:

These next four brachiopods came from the Upper Triassic Luning Formation, Nevada. They might not demonstrate the kind of spectacular preservation numerous Paleozoic Era specimens certainly display, yet the Luning fossils remain some of my very favorite brachiopods of all time. This is because, first, Late Triassic brachiopods of any kind are relatively uncommon in the contiguous United States, except at a few select, well-studied locations in a rather narrow swath that runs north-south through eastern-northern California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. That geographic zone of Late Triassic brach material then continues north through western Canada and, finally, Alaska. And, second, the fossil locality was just downright difficult to find. I spent hours pouring over geologic maps and road maps, attempting to pinpoint the area from which I had read about, in several publications, the occurrence of Luning Formation fossils; that my reward was finding a veritable paleontological bonanza, a place I have with great anticipation and joy returned to time and again over the years only serves to solidify my enthusiasm for the Upper Triassic Luning Formation brachiopods.

Of special note is that the brachiopod fauna of the Upper Triassic Luning Formation in Nevada is the most taxonomically diverse (in other words, contains the most species of brachiopods) known for the Mesozoic Era of North America.

But...as they classically intone in those numerous late night info-'mercials--"that's not all." Not only are brachiopods common to abundant in the Luning Formation of Nevada, but several other fossil types have also been entombed in the thick-bedded and slabby-weathering limestones that constitute the lower and upper members of the Luning. Characteristic of the Luning in Nevada are massive coral-sponge accumulations many feet thick that can be traced laterally, in some instances, for roughly a mile and a half or more. Also weathering out of the calcareous exposures can be found many mollusks--clams, oysters, gastropods, ammonoids and belemnites--in addition to sea urchins and even icthyosaur skeletal elements. One specific locality in the Luning contains a veritable icthyosaur graveyard, where the fossilized, mostly complete remains of several of the great fish-lizards have been quarried by professional vertebrate paleontologists. Over the years I have run across several icthyosaur rib bone fragments in the Luning exposures--although I've kept none, since it's strictly forbidden to collect vertebrate fossils on public lands without a special use permit issued by the Bureau Of Land Management (BLM), a permit given solely to fully qualified scientists with at least a B.S. degree from an accredited university or college and trained personnel representing an established, recognized museum.

From top left to bottom right: (1) A pedicle view of Spondylospira lewesensis (15 millimeters wide--five-eights inch; 10 millimeters long--three-eights inch); (2) Brachial view of Plectoconcha aequiplicata (20 millimeters wide--three-quarter inch; 24 millimeters long--one inch; note the small, faint cylindrical hole at upper left on this brachial valve view--that was caused by a predatory invertebrate animal that decided to bore into the brachiopod and gain a meal); (3) Brachial view of Zugmayerella uncinata (18 millimeters wide--three-quarter inch; 23 millimeters long--just under an inch); (4) Pedicle view of Zugmayerella uncinata (different specimen than in image #3) (18 millimeters wide--three-quarters inch; 18 millimeters long--three-quarters inch).

A Devonian Period Brachiopod:

Both sides of the same Atrypa brachiopod--left to right: pedicle view; brachial view. I collected it from the Upper Devonian Guilmette Formation, Nevada. At the horizon I explored several years ago, such Atrypa brachs weathered out by the "zillions" from well-exposed dark gray, thin-bedded limestones. The specimen is silicified, by the way, replaced by silicon dioxide, and imbued with minor amounts of iron minerals, which lend to it an unusual pearly-golden glow. Elsewhere in the Guilmette exposures, massive fossil reefs composed of stromatoporoids (sponges) and rugose and tabulate corals characteristically attain thicknesses exceeding 50 feet, amazing reef structures that can be traced laterally for over a mile in some instances. Along with stromatoporoids and corals, several limestone beds are crowded with gastropods and echinodermal crinoid stems; the corals, brachiopods, crinoid stems and to a lesser extent the stromatoporoids all often weather out free and intact, ready to be collected. Specimen is 20 millimeters wide and 20 millimeters long--that is three-quarter inch by three-quarter inch.

A Pennsylvanian Period Brachiopod:

A pedicle view of the brachiopod Linoproductus. The specimen was my earliest exposure to fossil brachiopods. My father collected it from the lower to middle Pennsylvanian Ely Limestone during his Summer Field Mapping project in Nevada, in order to successfully complete his many courses for a Bachelor Of Science Degree in geology from the University Of Southern California, and then gave it to me upon returning when I was a youngster. This particular Linoproductus came from low in the Ely section, near the contact with the underlying Upper Mississippian Diamond Peak Formation, so the brach is certainly early Pennsylvanian in geologic age. It has been silicified, by the way, replaced by silicon dioxide, lending to it a nice silvery sheen.

Throughout the Ely Limestone exposures in Nevada and neighboring western Utah, all kinds of fossil goodies await discovery: these include many species of brachiopods, fusulinids (an extinct single-celled animal that secreted small wheat-shaped shells that bear intricate internal geometric designs), rugose and tabulate corals, echinoderms (crinoid stems, primarily) and several varieties of gastropods and mollusks.

In actual dimensions, the Ely Limestone brachiopod is 27 millimeters wide (a little over an inch) and 22 millimeters long (a little under an inch)

A Cambrian Period Brachiopod:

Here's a pedicle view of one of the oldest known stem groups of brachiopods yet recovered from the geologic record (it's technically a sister group to the lingulid brachiopods)--it's called Mickwitzia occidens, an extinct type that clearly reveals its characteristic circular, phonograph record shape. I collected the ancient specimen a few years ago from the Lower Cambrian Poleta Formation, Nevada, at a locality that also yields an inarticulate brachiopod called Lingulella--both of which occur in the rather thick middle shale member of the Poleta, above a widespread, distinctive lower limestone Poleta unit that bears common to abundant archeocyathids (an extinct calcareous sponge). In addition to inarticulate brachiopods, the middle shale member of the Poleta also yields several species of trilobites (some of which can be found in an essentially perfect state of preservation), hyolithes (an extinct, primitive mollusk), helicoplacus echinoderms (most of which occur in Poleta exposures in eastern California, although there is one superior Nevada site that yields fully articulated Helicoplacus--it's the best-studied, oldest echinoderm recognized in the fossil record), anomalocaridid fragments, sponges, cyanobacteria developments (algal bodies) and Planolites trace fossils (the feeding process of an extinct worm-like creature). The Early Cambrian brachiopod is 23 millimeters in diameter--a little under an inch.

In addition to my many Web pages pertaining to matters paleontological and geological, I also have 8 sites up and running that feature my solo, acoustic, instrumental 6 and 12-string guitar playing--in addition to songs I have recorded with my parents over the years (family music) And it's all free music--for listening and for downloads of the mp3 files.

Jump on over to The Acoustic Guitar Solitaire Of Inyo--A Cyber-CD for 30 covers of some of my favorite songs--all played on a 1976 Martin D-35 6-string guitar.

For 32 mp3 selections of original compositions and covers of some of my favorite songs--all played on a 1970 Stella 12-string guitar, a 1976 Martin D-35 guitar and a Sigma DMISTCE guitar, head on over to Beyond The Timberline--A Cyber-CD .

At The Distant Path--A Cyber CD listen to me play 32 covers and original compositions on a 1976 Martin D-35, a Sigma DMISTCE 6-string guitar and a 1970 Stella 12-string guitar.

Over at Inyo And Folks--A Musical History I've created a page that features 110 songs I recorded with my parents--all played on acoustic 6 and 12-string guitars, banjo, kazoo, maracas, and tambourine.

Acoustic Stratigraphy: Listen to me play 34 covers of some of my favorite songs on 6 and 12-string guitars.

Back To Badwater--A Cyber-CD: Listen to me play 32 covers and original compositions on 6 and 12-string guitars.

For an all-text page that includes all 300 of my guitar mp3 files placed on the Internet, go to All Inyo All The Time. That's where you'll find access to all of my musical selections, in order of their appearance on the Web--from my first Cyber-CD ("The Acoustic Guitar Solitaire Of Inyo") to the last, "Inyo 7."

Inyo 7--A Cyber CD: Listen to me play 30 covers of some of my favorite songs, plus originals.

For more of my web sites that pertain to paleontology, visit my page "My Other Web Sites."