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Conulariids and Fossil Bryozoans blog

3 Posts tagged with the palaeontology tag
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During three hectic days from 25 to 27 October 2013 I attended The Munich Show, one of the most important fossil and mineral fairs in the world.

 

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Marienplatz, in the heart of Munich, was home to medieval markets, celebrations, and tournaments in the 12th century.

 

We arrived Munich on 23 October to install the Museum's exhibition at the Mineralientage München (Munich Show), which this year was devoted to gold in celebration of its 50th anniversary. In the case of fossils this translated as golden discoveries in Palaeontology.

 

The Museum contributed by exhibiting some of our most valuable fossils, including the iconic first finding of Tyrannosaurus rex, an incomplete lower jaw with teeth, which is the holotype of Dynamosaurus imperiosus.

 

2013-10-24 11.58.02.jpgVenue for the Museum specimens at the Messegelände, the New Munich Trade Fair Centre.

 

 

Another important fossil from the Museum was Proceratosaurus, a small-sized carnivorous theropod.

 

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Proceratosaurus, theropod from the Middle Jurassic of England.


As well as fossil vertebrates the show included invertebrates, like this slab of Balanocrinus and Palaeocoma from the David Harvey Collection.

 

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Crinoids and brittle star of the David Harvey Collection at the Museum exhibit.

 

The Museum displayed specimens from 'golden palaeontological sites' like the Burgess Shale and Lyme Regis.

 

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Palaeocoma milleri, brittle star, collected by Mary Anning.

 

During the three days I visited all the stands concerning fossils in detail and I saw very striking specimens. Some of them were really uncommon and important scientifically. It was possible to see Edicarian fossils from Russia, really nice slabs of a whole colony of crinoids from Holzmaden or medusae from Solnhofen.

 

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Ediacarian fossils from White Sea, Russia.

 

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Well-preserved medusa Rhizostomites from Solnhofen.

 

On the other hand, this fossil fair has also been a very good place to see fossil fakes or “reconstructed” fossils.

 

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Ammonite that has been half carved.

 

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Eurypterid that has been 90% reconstructed - painted on.

 

The show also included activities for children, such as interactive workshops like fossil splitting and soapstone carving.

 

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A 'caveman' working on cutting and polishing stones.

 

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Little raiders of the lost fossil.

 

We enjoyed not only the fossils but also a big party to celebrate the Golden Jubilee on 25 October, the first day of the show, with a Bavarian orchestra that was playing while we had our dinner with typical dishes and drink from Munich, like my favourites ones: Spaetzle with cheese and German beer.

 

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Bavarian orchestra to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Mineral and Fossil Show.

 

Congratulations to Christoph Keilmann for organising the Munich show!

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September in Paris

Posted by Consuelo Sendino Oct 13, 2013

Paris is nice at any time of the year! This September has been very warm everywhere and especially in Paris. I have had a Leonardo da Vinci mobility grant to visit the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (MNHN) to study how they cope with their digitisation plan.

 

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The Grande Galerie de l'Evolution of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) in the Jardin des Plantes of Paris.


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Georges-Louis Leclerc (1707-1788), Comte de Buffon, intendant (director) at the Jardin du Roi (1739-1788), now called the Jardin des Plantes.

 

I was based in the Département Histoire de la Terre, Laboratoire de Paléontologie, and my host has been Dr Didier Merle, curator of fossil molluscs and editor-in-chief of the palaeontological journal Geodiversitas.

 

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Main entrance of the Laboratoire de Paléontologie.

 

 

My main interest in this visit was to see how they manage the 'Typothèque', a place where type and figured fossils are housed, and how the MNHN publishes its database of these specimens online.

 

conulariids-post.jpgLeft: Dr Didier Merle showing us some types at the Typothèque. Right: Some of the facilities at the Typothèque used to study the specimens inside.

 

The Typothèque was created by M. Jean Claude Fischer in 1985 in order to keep all the type and figured specimens of fossil invertebrates together in the same room, making them more accessible to the visitors. This is a big advantage compared to other collections in the same department (fossil plants, fossil vertebrates and micropalaeontology) or other departments at the MNHN. It contains important specimens such as those of the d’Orbigny, d’Archiac and Cossman collections.

 

Currently there is a technician, M. Jean-Michel Pacaud, working full time at this Typothèque, maintaining it and recording any new type or figured specimen. More than 90% of the fossil invertebrates have been databased.

 

The database application used at the MNHN is the demonstrator program JACIM, linked to a paleo database supplying data to the website of the MNHN automatically. An xsp (eXtensible Server Pages Processor) is used to make their collection visible on the website.


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The JACIM website.

 

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Specimen labels produced and immediately visualised by the user interface of JACIM.

 

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Information visible about the specimen through the MNHN website.

 

Curation at the Typothèque involves using different colour labels depending on whether specimens are types (yellow labels) or figured specimens (white ones), making them visible immediately. Specimens are ordered:

 

      • principally by the main invertebrate groups as gastropods, echinoderms, corals, bryozoans, etc
      • secondly by stratigraphy
      • thirdly by geography
      • finally by alphabetical order of the species name

 

typotheque.jpgLeft: Fossil coral label at the Typothèque. Right: Drawer with Palaeozoic corals from Europe.

 

This organisation is really useful as you can find any specimen kept there immediately. Another advantage  is that the MNHN policy does not allow loans of type specimens. Consequently they are always available for visitors.

 

Congratulations to the MNHN for their well thought out and planned in advance Typothèque!

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As this is the first blog, I would like to introduce you these marine animals and their collections at the Museum and why I am creating this blog.

 

Conulariids have a distinctive shape that resembles an inverted pyramid or ice cream cone with square cross section, with a length from about 2cm to 30cm, but most measure 3cm to 10cm from the closed pointed end to the aperture at the wider open end.

 

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Ctenoconularia hispida (Slater, 1907)

 

 

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Reconstruction of a group of conulariids

 

The Conulariid Collection at the Museum consists of more than 1,100 specimens whose distribution goes from the Upper Cambrian (501 million years ago) to the Upper Triassic (199.6 million years ago), and it covers the whole stratigraphical distribution of this group. This collection has been key in systematic and taxonomical studies of conulariids at the beginning of the 20th century and it is a crucial source for reference today.

 

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Distribution of Museum conulariids by period


These amazing animals are incredibly abundant and lend their name to particular geological units as the Conularia-Sandstone in the Upper Ordovician of Jordan. There are more than 400 species of conulariid described.

 

Bryozoans are colonial animals whose individuals are called zooids. Their dimensions are microscopic.

 

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Archimedes Owen, 1838

 

 

The Bryozoa Collection, with more than 1,500,000 specimens, is one of the richest and most important in the world, containing hand specimens, samples, slides and thin sections. They spread from the Early Ordovician (485 million years ago), to the Holocene-Present.

 

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  Distribution of the Museum bryozoans by periods

 

 

I am focusing in these collections because the conulariid one has been the aim of my PhD and part of my research, and the Bryozoan Collection is the one I am curating in addition to being part of my research.

 

In the next blogs I will show how I curate them, new technologies in collection management, part of my research, fieldwork and visitors of these collections.