In a few weeks we’ll be opening our new exhibit at WSC, “Life in the Ancient Seas”, which will include a fair number of specimens from Ordovician rocks in the midwest. In recognition of that event, I’m reposting this post, originally published on my old blog “Updates from the Paleontology Lab” in 2011. Continue reading
At the end of this month WSC is opening a new exhibit, “Life in the Ancient Seas”. A big portion of the staff’s efforts are currently focused on getting this ready, including writing labels for individual specimens; this may be the largest exhibit we’ve ever done in terms of shear specimen count! But sometimes these labels can be difficult to write, as the information is often obscure. Continue reading
Last week Cogstone Resource Management (http://www.cogstone.com) delivered a collection of Pleistocene deposits from Ventura County to the Western Science Center. This included a number of both vertebrate and invertebrate fossils. Continue reading
Life as a suspension feeder is a mixed blessing. Most suspension feeders are sessile, staying in one place for practically their entire life. They feed by extracting food particles from water, using a bewildering variety of suction tubes, mucus nets, feathery appendages, and various other anatomical variations. Almost every phylum of animals and many protists include examples of suspension feeders. It’s a lifestyle that could be regarded almost as idyllic, as you sway back and forth in the current, waiting on food to blunder into your mouth (for those suspension feeders that actually have mouths; not all do). But it can be treacherous, too. Those same currents that bring you your food can also rip you from your anchor point, carrying you off, where you may ironically end up as food for some other suspension feeder. Attaching to a solid, stable substrate is critical to survival for a suspension feeder, and in some environments there is a lot of competition for good spots. Continue reading
The world of the dinosaurs was populated by some of the most gargantuan and charismatic animals ever to roam our planet. It is easy to forget that the Mesozoic Era was just as rich with all sorts of life as our modern world. Continue reading
During last week’s Valley of the Mastodons events, museum supporter Doug Shore donated a collection of invertebrate and plant fossils to Western Science Center. Continue reading
While the Diamond Valley Lake fossil fauna is best known for its mammals, there were also thousands of mollusks recovered. These are mostly minute freshwater species, and even though we have thousands of them the all fit easily in a single specimen case. Continue reading
Inspired by the #GatewayFossil hashtag on Twitter, I’m reposting this piece that I originally published at “Updates from the Paleontology Lab” on June 9, 2009.
My first exposure to fossils in the field (as opposed to in a museum) occurred when I was around 5 years old. Continue reading
Western Science Center has a relatively small collection of invertebrate fossils, but we’ve been working over the last two years to increase our holdings of invertebrate specimens.
To human eyes, the most noticeable parts of every ecosystem are the big, charismatic organisms; there’s a reason the blog is called “Valley of the Mastodon”. But in terms of numbers of individuals and, usually, total biomass, small organisms actually dominate ecosystems. That’s often reflected in the fossil record as well. Continue reading