Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Day of Discovery

Yesterday, I discovered a lot more about invertebrate paleontology and the amount of effort and time that our scientists dedicate into the research that goes into the different fossils present in our collections. I spent time with Dr. Susan Butts going through the process of evolution of ammonites and nautilus. It was interesting looking at the intricate development these creatures went through, by creating complex chambers within itself. Understanding the science behind the functions of these creatures was awesome because the change of buoyancy within these chambers would allow the invertebrate to change their altitudes. There was a certain fossil that we saw which were called the blobs. We weren't sure what they seemed to be because their shapes were so distinct... like blobs. We initially thought they may be molds or imprints of jellies. However, the shape of it was what caught us off guard. Nonetheless, my curiosity only grew.

Later in the day, we tried to identify fossils of our own. The one I took was tiny in my hand. it was very symmetrical, and had a plethora of spines extruding from its center to the outer edge of it. I named him "Georgie." I started researching what it may be. I thought it may be a sea urchin or a type of coral. So I searched information about different Echinoderms. I found pictures that looked like Georgie. He was a coral, more specifically, a "Cnidarian". This type of coral grew independently unlike the common corals we find. What was special about Georgie was that he was a carnivore that captures it's prey with its tentacles. The fossil I had was about 1 1/2 cm wide, but they can grow up to 50 cm! It was really cool discovering Georgie and classifying him.

-Gayatri Sivalenka

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