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Show And Tell - Double Walliserops Trilobite Plate
Posted: 02/07/14 10:08 AM : By Matt Heaton : Comments

This is a specimen I picked up for my own collection at the Tucson mineral and fossil show last week which I thought I'd share.  It's the most impressive and best prepared plate of the very weird trilobite Walliserops trifurcatus which I've ever seen.  It comes from the Devonian aged rocks near Foum Zguid Morocco and was prepared by one of it not the best preparitors of Moroccan trilobites, Hammi.

New Trilobite Arrivals From Morocco
Posted: 01/19/14 01:39 PM : By Matt Heaton : Comments

I was very excited to have a big box of trilobites arrive from Morocco yesterday.  It taken over a month to reach me, so I had been getting pretty impatient.  There are lots of more common species as well as a few nice spiny ones protected in plastic cases.  The quality of trilobite preparation available from Morocco has come a long way since I first started collecting trilobites 15 years years ago.

There is still plenty of work to do before they get listed on FossilEra.  I'll go through every one of them to verify there is no major restoration work and that I can accurately detail any minor restoration in the descriptions.  Some types of restoration with reveal itself under black light, while much of it will require close examination under high magnification looking for incorrect textures or colors.  

Top 10 Paleontology News Stories Of 2013
Posted: 01/02/14 11:34 AM : By Jenney Niehaus : Comments

Intact Skull of Homo erectus Shakes the Family Tree

In Dmansi, Georgia, a 1.8 million year old skull is found in the same area of collapsed carnivore dens as other H. erectus from the early Pleistocene. This particular skull is strikingly complete, and belonged to an ancient human who was eaten by one of several large carnivores that also shared the local watering hole. 

What makes this discovery so astounding is that the unusual dimensions of the skull, along with those of other local skulls, reveal that there was a wide breadth of normal variation in Homo erectus.  This suggests that several described human ancestors from Africa may not be separate species, but may be variants of H. erectus.  This is a ground breaking idea regarding our ancestors that radiated from Africa, and who may have been the first of our lineage to use fire to cook food.  Critics suggest that while this new discovery is an amazing new reference for species diversity, caution must be used before entire branches of the human family tree are summarily chopped off.  More skulls from Asia are needed to corroborate observations.

Ancestral Spiders of the Cambrian Reveal Their Nervous System

A new fossil relative of spiders and scorpions was discovered in China- and this weird creature of the Cambrian marine is stranger than fiction.  A member of the Alalcomenaeus genus, this megacheiran (“great-appendage”) arthropod  lived 520 mya, among the ancestors of crustaceans.  This new species is believed to have been 1 inch long, possess two pairs of eyes, had an elongated and segmented body with 12 pairs of appendages, and had a pair of scissor-like head claws. 

The organization of its neural anatomy reveals a similarity to the chelicerata (horseshoe crabs and scorpions).  In fact, the brain is like that of modern spiders.  Scientists are currently searching for a shared ancestor between this new creature and the ancient crustaceans.