Answer Monday


A lot of fossils!


If—like Dan Coleman and Dan Phelps—you thought that these tiny fossils were foraminifera, you’re a better paleontologist than I am. When I received the photograph, it was accompanied by a separate identification of the fossils as Spirifer verneuili, a brachiopod now known as Cyrtospirifer verneuili—unless you’re in Cornwall, where it’s apparently known as “Delabole Butterfly.” You can see why from a picture (courtesy of Dwergenpaartje via Wikimedia Commons).

Cyrtospirifer verneuili. Photograph: Dwergenpaartje via Wikimedia Commons


As for the hint, S. (or now C.) verneuili was originally described by Roderick Murchison (1792–1871), whom T. T. Martin inadvertently called “Roredick” in Hell and the High Schools (1923).

But it turns out that there was a mismatch between the photograph and the identification: these weren’t tiny spirifers but, indeed, foraminifera. I take some comfort in the fact that the possibility that these might be brachiopods was at least entertained in the comments. Anyhow, since Dan Coleman was the first to suggest, correctly, that these were foraminifera, and since Dan Phelps was the first to suggest, correctly, that these were fusilinids, a type of foraminifera, I declare them the joint winners. And I will hang my head in hole-bearing shame until Friday, when a new, and I trust properly identified, fossil will grace our humble blog.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.
We can't afford to lose any time when it comes to the future of science education.

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