Charcoal Trace Fossil
Location: Hyner, PA
Charcoal Trace Fossil
Location: Hyner, PA
As I tackle the steep red sides of a crumbling roadcut in the far backwoods of Pennsylvania, my geological hammer pries out mounds of fossilized plant material. These remains of some of the earliest pre-forests scatter the ground, having never seen the sun since they were buried some 360 million years ago in the late Devonian. This was a time marked when vertebrates were just emerging onto dry land, when forests began to take root, and when large predatory fish ruled the seas. Despite the temporal distance, there is much we can learn from this preserved foliage.
Category: Wasps and Kin
It may look like a furry and colorful ant, but watch out, the this velvet ant-like creature belongs to the Mutillidae family, which makes it wasp. Though females in this family lacks wings, you don't want to get on their bad side, they've earned their name for having a sting so painful, it has been exaggeratedly described as powerful enough to kill a cow, earning them the name: Cow Killer Ants. Female Cow Killers are very distinct, with furry bodies, an elongated thorax, and a bright orange or red color. Males are very different, lacking a stinger, but equipped with wings, and featuring a very different body shape (See below).
Something a bit different today, if you haven't yet figured it out this blob of sandy goo is jellyfish fresh from the shores of Galveston Beach, Texas. It washed up dead on the shore and made its way to the Sholesonian's collections for the first jelly specimen. This one belongs to the genus Aurelia also known as the common jellyfish as they are found throughout the Atlantic coasts and are also known as moon jellies. They do in fact sting producing a mild burning sensation, a possible rash, and nausea/high blood pressure about half an hour after the sting - nothing serious. Their bodies consist mostly of the bell (top dome area) and tentacles (thin strands that dangle) and can be easily recognized by their distinctive four black spots on top - their reproductive organs; and this species of medusoid is either male or female.
Location: Mufreesboro, AR
It's been awhile since the last post, but here is a small but interesting new piece all the way from Arkansas - the Natural State. From the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Mufreesboro, AR this yellow-dotted rock tells the story of how the volcanic crater formed and why the park is known for all its diamonds. Those yellow/green spots are actually small pieces of the Earth's upper mantle (called macrocrysts) which are made out of olivine. Deep, deep down in the Earth's mantle (150+ km down - the crust is a max of 50km thick and the deepest humans have drilled is 12 km) diamonds are formed under the immense pressure. Lamproites like this (along with a similar mineral kimberlite) are able to transport diamond-bearing rocks to the surface - but do not contain the diamonds themselves.
NH 347Furrow Spider
While we weren't able to make this for Saturday, here's another great spider post from our new researcher Eddie Brooks. This particular guy was found on the side of a shed in Ithaca, New York on the afternoon of March 16, 2012. And a nice big shoutout to the people over at Spiders.us who helped with the identification of this male orb weaver!
Larinioides cornutus, commonly known as the Furrow Spider, belongs to a group known as Orb Weavers, who get their name from the concentric circular pattern found in the webs the make. Orb weavers are prolific; they can be found on almost any continent, except Antarctica. The Furrow Spider in particular, however, can be found throughout North America and Europe, and has been occasionally observed in parts of Asia. They are nocturnal creatures that grow up to be roughly half an inch in size. They can be identified by the brown pattern on their backs. Furrow spiders will never bite unless provoked, and can be commonly found in urban settings, where they will prey upon other insects in basements, cellars, and other dark corners. For more information, BugGuide has details on the Furrow Spider and the Orb Weavers in general.
So you may have noticed something a bit different, the Sholesonian tag for this nice butterfly specimen is A006 so what in the world does that mean? Well, I'm currently in Arkansas working on a research project investigating the geology of Venus and I unfortunately wasn't able to bring all my museum equipment (including the record book for insects) so all non-geology/fossil posts will have a unique Arkansas tag. And now that we are back up and running here is a beautiful swallowtail specimen collected outside the Fantastic Caverns of Springfield, Missouri with a new Sholesonian researcher Eddie Brooks:
Mapuche Wooden Mask
Hailing from the southwestern portion of Argentina is a relatively small group of native inhabitants known as the "Araucanos." This is the historical term coined by the early Spanish conquistadors (deriving from the word arauco meaning "clayey water"), but has generally fallen into disregard in favor of the term Mapuche which encompasses a bunch of different ethic groups that share a common heritage. This includes the Picunches, Huilliches, and the Moluche both in Argentina and Chile. Araucanian society is mostly agricultural and large extended-family based with a lonko (like a chief who was generally wealthier) leading the people.
Mosasaur Tooth in Matrix
Location: Unkown (Probably Morocco)
Details: Acquired at the Royal Ontario Museum
So I finally received my photo studio, to help with cataloging all of the collections. To start with I'm going to put up one piece from each of the collections, to give a little taste of what is here. To start off I'm going to be posting a newer specimen in the FOS collection. It's a Mosasaur tooth, theoretically that is.
Unit: Five Cents
Details: About Uncirculated
My first post from the Coin Collection is a 1945 Candadian 'V' nickel (5 cents). I honestly can't remember when and where I acquired this specimen but it was probably at a coin show, collectible shop, or I received it as a gift. The coin was described as 'About Uncirculated.'
Brownie Target SIX-16
Era: ca. 1940's-1950's
Details: Black, w/film, Eastman Kodak, dual finders
First off, I have an extensive camera collection so expect some similar posts but these antique cameras are pretty cool. My first camera, and piece from the Historical Significance collection, is an Eastman Kodak Target Six-16 Brownie. I unfortunately can't remember where I acquired this one, it is probably from my Uncle or Grandfather, they have graciously donated many cameras to the museum. This model was made circa 1948, as in they first started to introduce them back in 1946 and discontinued them in 1951.
The Sholesonian is an online museum databasing all the unique, scientific, and interesting things I've found over the years. Every week I'll be posting up at least one new item to the collection along with a little tidbit on what it is. Enjoy!