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Author Topic: Fossil: sponge or nest?  (Read 11346 times)

Offline ubermonkey

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« on: 24/07/2008 19:00:47 »
Hello and thanks in advance!  After doing a little reading I think this may be a sponge.  The surface has a bit of a glittery appearance which I believe is silica.  However the owner believes it's a bee's nest (or wasp, etc.)
     Between the two of us our geological knowledge = null.  Any help with the ID and an estimation of it's rarity would be great!

another view:

and one more:


Thank you!


 

Offline frethack

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #1 on: 24/07/2008 20:08:47 »
At first glance it appears to be a species of tabulate coral (and a very nice sample at that...Im a little jealous).  The glitter is probably calcium carbonate instead of silica, but it is very pretty.

Any information on where it was found and type of substrate it was discovered in?


frethack
« Last Edit: 24/07/2008 20:14:14 by frethack »
 

Offline RD

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #2 on: 24/07/2008 21:03:21 »
Apparently fossilized hives are possible...

Quote
A specimen of well cemented ferruginous cave earth from quarry rubble at Batu Caves limestone hill near Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, includes a structure of white secondary calcite in the shape of a bee comb. From the size of the cells, the architect of the comb is tentatively identified as Apis (Apis) javana (Enderlein, 1906), one of four species of honeybee resident in Malaya today. Fossilization of the comb was by initial coating of the cell walls with calcite, followed by removal of the wax and its partial replacement by additional calcite. This process probably took place under water. The age of the specimen is not known, but on geomorphic reasoning may be late Tertiary or early Quaternary.
http://www.jstor.org/pss/1304143

But I think Frethack is correct.
« Last Edit: 24/07/2008 21:10:51 by RD »
 

Offline ubermonkey

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #3 on: 24/07/2008 22:40:55 »
The only info was that it was dug from a garden in Nebraska (in the middle of the US.)  It seems a bit unlikely that something that old would be at that depth....   

I would definitely like to know more about it- It seems to be larger than what I'm finding in the online shops (in fact I'm having a hard time finding them at all...)


Thanks for the reply!
« Last Edit: 24/07/2008 23:21:14 by ubermonkey »
 

Offline frethack

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #4 on: 25/07/2008 00:24:19 »
I apologize for the many questions, but which part of Nebraska?  If its in the east (well...southeast) then the exposures are mostly Pennsylvanian, Permian, and Cretaceous...and generally shallow marine deposits, which would make sense.

And youre right...thats a very nice piece, but I wouldnt really be able to estimate the value of the coral (99.99% sure its a coral...looks like possibly Favosites).

Here are pics of other similar tabulate corals




 

Offline ubermonkey

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #5 on: 25/07/2008 05:05:16 »
Wow I'm impressed!  SE Nebraska it is!  About 45 miles (72K) west of Omaha in a rural community.  Out of all the different types of tabulate corals I've noticed that the most similar seem to share the same yellow/amber coloration.  I wonder if that's true. 
    My mother found it and was really disappointed to learn that it's probably not the elusive petrified honeycomb.  I tried to cheer her up by estimating it's age between 250-450 million years old, but I think she was hoping for something a little more along the lines of, "Pack your bags you're going to Hawaii!" 
 ;)
 

Offline frethack

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #6 on: 25/07/2008 17:18:47 »
Quote
Wow I'm impressed!  SE Nebraska it is!  About 45 miles (72K) west of Omaha in a rural community.

Then it is likely Pennsylvanian in age  :) (~320 - 285 million ypb, depending on who you ask)  Cretaceous exposures are around the same area, but tabulate corals had died out during the Permian Extinction, a good 150 million years before the Cretaceous

Quote
Out of all the different types of tabulate corals I've noticed that the most similar seem to share the same yellow/amber coloration.

The coloration is likely from oxidation.  If I remember correctly corals get their color from the symbiotic algae that they use for photosythesis, and those would have bleached out long ago during fossilizatoin.

Sorry to upset your mom, but who knows, there might be something else lurking in that garden of yours!

 

blakestyger

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #7 on: 25/07/2008 17:37:26 »
I noticed that the original fossil had hexagonal cells whilst the second one had rectangular cells and the third pentagonal cells - is this significant?
 

Offline frethack

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #8 on: 25/07/2008 22:09:20 »
Im not sure if youre referring to the fossil posted by ubermonkey or the pics posted by me, but it actually is significant.

Tabulate corals produce hexagonal cells (corallites), and this is one of their identifying traits.  Of course nature is not always perfect and one cell wall may be small to nonexistent, giving it a seemingly pentagonal shape (or even fewer sides).  Also, compaction during fossilization can deform the specimen as a whole.

The square cells are actually the coral in cross section, and is how the succession of polyps grow, creating chambers within the hexagonal cell (tabulae).  Favosites is really the only genera of tabulate that Ive had any experience with, but a little cursory online research seems to indicate that the sample is probably from that genus.  If youd like to know for sure, Id take it to your local universty.

frethack
 

Offline ted68

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #9 on: 26/08/2008 06:08:32 »
Hello everyone.  New to this forum.  I have this fossil in my possession that I'm trying to identify.  I inherited it from my grandfather several years ago.  He once told me, before he passed away, that he found it in central Missouri, around the year 1930 near the town of Graham.  He said as a young boy, he was watching a road grading machine clear farm land for a new road and stood by to see this fascinating spectacle when this object came tumbling out of the newly revealed dirt.  He quickly picked it up and kept it until he gave it to me.  It is about 3 inches long, 2 inches wide, and about 2 inches tall and is heavy and dense for it's size, like a rock.  I suspect it may betabulate coral, but I'm not sure.  It has the hexagonal tube shape within it and one of the tubes is exposed on one end showing a solid white interior.    I welcome any and all comments, questions, or suggestions so I can go about authenticating it.  sorry about the poor picture quality, I thought they'd turn out better than that. Thanks.






« Last Edit: 26/08/2008 06:39:39 by ted68 »
 

Offline JimBob

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #10 on: 26/08/2008 23:28:24 »
Thanks for posting the pictures and the question, Ted.

It would be easier to help if we had clearer images to examine. Can this be done?
 

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Fossil: sponge or nest?
« Reply #10 on: 26/08/2008 23:28:24 »

 

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