A Little Calm

I just needed a little “calm.” It was on Wednesday, two days ago. I had one of those days where anything that could go wrong did. No, not earth-shattering wrong – not famine, pestilence, “Old Testament” wrong. Rather just a pile of small irritations that grew bigger as the day progressed. Certainly the type of day we all have from time to time. I found myself unconsciously humming my favorite angst-ridden song  – “Twentieth Century Man” by The Kinks.

“My mama says she can’t understand
She can’t see my motivation
Ain’t got no security
I’m a twentieth century man
but I don’t wanna be here.
This is the twentieth century
But too much aggravation
This is the edge of insanity
I’m a twentieth century man
but I don’t wanna be here.”

When I heard Ray Davies in the back of my brain I knew I had to change the day’s direction. It was a sunny February day in the 50s – perfect conditions to visit my favorite dry stream bed down the road.

Aah! The anti-frantic antidote to modernity. I sat with an old friend (actually a large sandstone rock that I’ve written about in earlier posts), one that is chock full of Devonian delights. I have photographed its fossils a number of times. But different light and different perspective seems to often yield fresh results.

Thus began the recovery of the day. Here are a handful of images that are the product of my efforts.

Yes, in the above image there are four nice sized cephalopods in a group several feet across.

And finally here is a new image from one of my ongoing series – this one a brachiopod.

Thank you for the visit. More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe to this blog at my homepage  https://artandfossils.wordpress.com

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7 thoughts on “A Little Calm

  1. Hi, Art,

    I’m curious about the fossil that looks like a finger (with a fingernail). Did it shift from the initial groove? If so, how? And how big is the rock?

    Elizabeth

    • Hi Elizabeth and all,

      Chuck Ver Straeten here, geologist and friend of Art’s.

      Cephalopods are a group of animals that include modern squids, octopus and the Nautilus. In the case of these fossils, they are just like a Nautilus, except that where it has a coiled, circular shell, the fossil cephalopods that Art has photographed had straight shells.

      Two things to help visualize what you’re seeing.

      First, look at one of these long shells – and then picture it swimming in the water, with the head and tentacles of a squid sticking out one end.

      Second, take alook at a Nautilus shell that has been cut in half (look on the web).You’ll see a larger open area at the open end of the shell. Behind it, curving with the shell, you’ll see a number of open spaces, separated by thin walls of shell. As a cephalopod grows, it needs a wider shell to live (the “living chamber”). So it adds more shell around the outside, at the open end. At the same time, it walls off the back of the open chamber, which is too small to fit in anymore.

      Those back, empty chambers are useful to the animal. When it wants to rise up higher in the water, it pumps gases back into the chambers – and rises. When it wants to sink lower in the water, it pumps liquids back into the chamber – and sinks.

      What you’re seeing that looks like a fingernail is one of those empty chambers, filled with sediment after the animal died. Then it became fossilized.

      Hopefully clear, and not too long…

      Chuck Ver Straeten, New York State Museum

  2. Thanks for the questions, Elizabeth. The rock is app. 6’x4′ and maybe 2-3′ deep. The fossil in question is a cephalopod and the part showing is about a foot long. As it grows it adds a rib (for lack of a better term – keep in mind I’m not a scientist. I know there’s a better explanation but I don’t have it at the moment.) The space at top shows its starting point and that part of the fossil came apart during the breaking of the rock. I’ll try to get a more accurate description of the process for you.

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