Friday, 21 January 2011

Perverting Palaeontology

When I found the casts of Ediacaran fossils in my university store rooms I was instantly enthralled, examining every single one in fine detail. I also had a friend with me, someone who finds Ediacaran's boring, so we did mess around a fair bit. Here are the results, along with a couple of other pictures:

Here I am with a cast of Charniodiscus. 
Most of the Ediacaran casts are of either Charnia or Charniodiscus, both of which were found in Charnwood Forest, where I hope to go some time soon. I really need to get a good look at the two frondose fossils as I am currently unable to tell the difference (except that the holdfast on Charniodiscus is often very prominent). 

Cyclomedusa being modelled as a nipple.
This is Cyclomedusa, which was originally thought of as like a jellyfish (hence the 'medusa' part of its name). It was then interpreted as a possible holdfast, but the rest of the organism was not known. This would explain the slight stalk in the middle which makes it look like a nipple. It is now thought to have been a microbial colony.  
I don't know the name of this foram. 
We had a project on foraminifera for micropalaeontology. This is a large model of one of them; the models were used to help identification. They were not intended to become miniature penises.

Sadly this is not a good picture, as the cast of Dickinsonia is from quite a well known fossil (Google image search Dickinsonia and you will see what I mean). It has two large Dickinsonia specimens on the slab, the larger of which seems to have been more flexible. There is another, smaller Dickinsonia and if you know where to look you might spot Parvancorina too, which I was very pleased about as there were no casts of that alone. They had a single Kimberella cast, which sadly showed practically nothing, it was like a smear in the rock.

This Allosaurus skull cast is in a display case, which we were tempted to open up. Naturally I would have done some suspect pose with it. Allosaurus was always one of my favourite theropods, perhaps because I didn't like seeing Tyrannosaurus getting all the glory. 

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