Paleontology

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By J C Wollin R P MacFall

Fossils for Amateurs Paperback - September 1, 1976 by means of J C Wollin R P MacFall (Author)

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T h e result is a piece of w h a t looks like wood on the outside, but inside m a y be banded agate or even a geode with sparkling a m e t h y s t crystals, showing no cellular detail at all. T h i s type of r e p l a c e m e n t is o f t e n called pseudomorph ( " f a l s e f o r m " ) . T h i s also occurs in minerals w h e r e o n e mineral has faithfully replaced another mineral crystal, such as a calcite crystal replaced by quartz that retains the crystal shape of the calcite. All three of these quite different processes are correctly termed petrification or petrifaction.

S a n d s t o n e can also be the hardened relic of a sandy riverbank or lake shore that existed millions of years ago. In C o n n e c t i c u t and T e x a s , dinosaurs ambled across these ancient shores and left behind their ample f o o t p r i n t s . S o m e even left their m i g h t y b o n e s , too, and shifting river c h a n n e l s covered them with sediment. S u c h deposits of dinosaur b o n e s are f o u n d in m a n y w e s t e r n states. Heedless of such c o m p a n y , worms and b o t t o m dwellers crawled on and in the sandy b o t t o m , leaving behind their o w n fossil trails.

Pennsylvanian period; Terre Haute, Indiana. Soft-bodied animals, such as this worm, are rarely preserved except as a carbon film. Parts of this Silurian annelid, Lecthyalus gregarius, found near Chicago, are still attached to the mold in the limestone. THE N A T U R E OF FOSSILS 27 These ants were trapped in resin which hardened into amber over the last 40 million years. They are thin, carbonized films with hollow centers. Poland. Casts and Molds An organism, such as a shell, is buried in sediment, such as the ooze on the b o t t o m of a sea.

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