(Center) The tail (pygidium) of a tiny trilobite, ditomopyge sp., an extinct type of arthropod, lays amid fossils of various other sea creatures. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of known trilobite species, only one species has been found at this site. Why?
The long tube in the lower center portion of this photo is the stem of a crinoid - a type of sea lily - shown eroding out of the sediment. In life, this would have been part of a very long stem, anchored to the sea floor or a rock. A flower-like appendage was attached to the top of the stem - but this was no flower. It was actually made of long arms that caught tiny prey as it floated by and moved it to the mouth at the flower's center.
There are only a very few brachiopods left in the world today - the half-circle, wavy item in this photo is a 300-million example of the spirifer genus. Many had a foot outside of the shell that anchored them to the sea floor.
Of course, it wasn't all sea flowers and bivalves. Sharks have been stalking the Earth's shores for 400 million years, and the Pennsylvanian is no exception. Above, a very rare Petalodus shark tooth (brown and white), above a trilobite spine (gray), which would have protruded from the trilobite's head.
And though you might think so, scrolling through today's pictures - the dig site is not all gray. Even heading into winter, there are wildflowers around.
If you'd like to see some of these specimens up close, check out Dino BONE-anza, a family fossil festival on Nov. 17 at The Woodlands Xploration Station (an HMNS satellite facility). Lots of similar specimens were gathered today to talk about and give away at this event.
That's it for our foray into the Pennsylvanian. Starting Monday - it's all Permian, all the time.