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3 April 2019

Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods, by Danna Staaf

Here’s a cool little book about the paleobiology, ecology, and behavior of cephalopods: Squid Empire. The author, Danna Staaf, has a PhD in marine biology and –more importantly– a lifelong fascination with squid, octopuses, cuttlefish, and nautiloids. This work is a history of the cephalopod clade – going back into deep time, before the Cambrian Explosion, dwelling on ancestral forms and luxuriating in the ammonites (now sadly extinct — or …

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2 April 2019

Spying on Whales, by Nick Pyenson

A book by Nick Pyenson (of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History) details the past, present, and future of whales. Combining paleontology, oceanography, environmental awareness, evolution, and history with personal stories of field work and insight, it’s a compelling tale of modern science on charismatic, mysterious creatures.

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20 March 2019

The Dinosaur Artist, by Paige Williams

A book review of Paige Williams’ “The Dinosaur Artist,” a tale of international trade in dinosaur skeletons.

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18 March 2019

New discoveries in the Martinsburg Formation

A virtual field trip to examine some deepwater clastic sediments shed off the first phase of Appalachian mountain building, and deformed in the third phase. It’s a lovely day for a field trip to the late Ordovician!

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11 February 2019

When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Dinosaurs, by Hannah Bonner

It has been a while since I’ve reviewed any kids’ books here, but this one was so good that I just have to tell you about it. My son is now 6 and a half years old, and he’s interested in all sorts of natural history topics. Given that I’m a geologist, he’s probably more Earth-science-focused than the average kid, but my wife is a biologist, so he’s got plenty …

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19 December 2018

The 50 State Fossils: A Guidebook for Aspiring Paleontologists, by Yinan Wang

Here’s a kid’s book to consider for the holiday season:¬†The 50 State Fossils: A Guidebook for Aspiring Paleontologists, written by Yinan Wang and illustrated by Jane Levy. It has a simple structure: each state gets a page, and that page is divided into four parts: a map of the state w/ areas highlighted showing where the fossil can be found, an illustration of the organism as it looked when it …

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25 April 2018

Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Kentucky

A visit to a natural sandstone arch (or “bridge” as the locals call it) in eastern Kentucky yields unexpected bonuses, like fossil wood, Liesegang banding, and the honeycomb-like weathering pattern called “tafoni.”

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18 April 2018

Visiting St. Francis’s lovely limestone

The Cretaceous-Paleogene limestone called Scaglia Rossa was used to construct a basilica in tribute to St. Francis. Let’s head to Assisi and take a look.

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10 April 2018

An outcrop showcasing a strand of the Kentucky River Fault System

Roadcuts in Kentucky show Ordovician limestones of two distinct types, replete with fossils and primary sedimentary structures, and juxtaposed by a fault, one strand in the Kentucky River Fault System.

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9 April 2018

Orthocone nautiloids of the Lexington Limestone

I took a trip last week to Kentucky. My colleague Kent Ratajeski from the University of Kentucky took me out on a nice all-day field trip to examine some of the local geology. I was particularly impressed with the large straight nautiloid fossils that abounded in the Ordovician-aged Lexington Limestone. Here are a series of photos I took of these orthocones, all on pavement exposures (horizontal bedding planes) with my …

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