27 June 2012
Today, I’m going to show you some monster-sized single-celled organisms: giant fusulinid forams from the western flank of the Franklin Mountains in west Texas, beyond El Paso. I saw these critters in February when I went on a field trip there led by Josh Villalobos of El Paso Community College.
Here’s the scene where we found these fossils (view is west towards New Mexico):
To prepare you to check out these things, examine this sketch I just drew. You will be looking at cross-sections through the architecture of the protist’s body:
Okay, now that your search image is primed, you can examine the photos:
When I’ve shown fusulinids on my blog before, it was to illustrate pressure solution. These Texas fusulinids don’t show any evidence of P-sol, but rather serve as exemplars of undeformed strain markers.
They are HUGE! Remember that each of these is a single-celled organism – one nucleus per critter. Unlike a lot of forams, these fusulinids are interpreted to have been benthic (bottom-dwellers), not planktonic (floaters).
Here’s a nice end-on cross-section:
Same sample, but rotated a bit to better catch the light:
Awesome. Everything’s bigger in Texas – even the extinct single-celled organisms!