Any ideas what this is?

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Any ideas what this is?

Postby Dangerjudy » Dec 13, 2007 12:51 pm

Any ideas what this is? Is it a fossil? I think the Pell City guys dubbed it, "The Phlopenator". :-) Check out the pics before and after it for more views.



http://www.spelunkologists.com/ironcity/pages/-%20(44).htm

edit - I can't get the link to work as clickable. Here's a pic:

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Another pic

Postby Dangerjudy » Dec 13, 2007 12:54 pm

Another pic... or two...
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White thing on ceiling

Postby cavedoc » Dec 13, 2007 1:51 pm

Base of a stal that was hacked off? Looks like there are scars from a saw or chisel in the middle of it.
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Postby gillip » Dec 13, 2007 2:26 pm

No one seems to know what this fossil is. There is a post on the U.S. Cavers forum with possibly the same specimen:

http://nssmembersforum.proboards28.com/ ... 1182397426
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Postby Scott Shaw » Dec 13, 2007 3:11 pm

Oh the phlopenator resurfaces!

Shane Stacy, Clem Akins and Sheldon Clutts (if my memory serves0 found this fossil in the ceiling of a central Tennessee stream cave in the early 1990s. They showed it to me, I took it to every paleo kinda folks I knew of and none could positively ID it. Havn't thought of it in a while. I even remember putting it in the NW Alabama Grotto Newsletter at one point.

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Postby Dangerjudy » Dec 13, 2007 4:32 pm

I think it's in the B'ham grotto newsletter this month...
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Postby gillip » Dec 13, 2007 5:11 pm

I think I may have an idea, but first could this be in Devonian aged Limestone? The Tennessee map shoes some Devonian outcropping in Wayne County.
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Postby barcelonacvr » Dec 13, 2007 7:19 pm

One of these critters managed to get fossilized perhaps? ;)




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Postby graveleye » Dec 14, 2007 11:04 am

heheh.. spelunkologists is one of my weekly stops on the net. They always have great pictures. I couldn't help but to notice the extended middle finger of friendship in the above photo. Got to love their subliminal sense of humor!! :grin:
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Postby Scott Shaw » Dec 14, 2007 3:08 pm

gillip wrote:I think I may have an idea, but first could this be in Devonian aged Limestone? The Tennessee map shoes some Devonian outcropping in Wayne County.


It was either Wayne or Lawrence county. So yes it could be. What's your suspect?
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What Is This ???

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Dec 14, 2007 4:52 pm

Well, it could be a fossil crinoid. Just a guess.

But it does have the symmetrical, branching aspect that you would observe in a crinoid calyx.

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Postby Teresa » Dec 15, 2007 6:36 pm

I agree with Larry. Most crinoid calyxes are preserved and seen side on, but if one happened to land head side down, this pattern very much resembles the image seen (and rotated a bit) at http://www.geo.arizona.edu/geo3xx/geo30 ... echin.html
under subphylum Crinoza.

Another thought: it could be a crinoid holdfast, seen from below. Obviously the fossil is worse for wear because of the cave solutioning. The holdfast is the 'foot' of the animal, and what binds the juveniles to the rocks below. Some are simple discs, and some look very much like above ground tree roots spreading in all directions.

Google crinoid holdfasts and use a little imagination to reorient them. Or pretend you are a mole looking up at the pattern of main branching tree roots.

Actually, I'm willing to bet $5 that this is a crinoid holdfast-- not $20 or $2000, but I'd lay about 60% odds that's what you're looking at, assuming the age of the rock is appropriate: Ordovician through Pennsylvanian. Some crinoids still exist, but the end of the Pennsylvanian did many of them in.
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Postby reeffish1073 » Dec 17, 2007 6:44 am

another thought, some sort of coral skelleton? it does'nt account for the symetry, but i suppose its possible. mabe the base of some type of acropora or brain type coral. acropora branch's out and curve upwards like that! some types of wellophelial are symetrical like that. possible an extinct type mabe. just my thoughts on it! awsome pic thought!

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Postby Squirrel Girl » Dec 17, 2007 11:44 am

reeffish1073 wrote:another thought, some sort of coral skelleton? it does'nt account for the symetry, but i suppose its possible. mabe the base of some type of acropora or brain type coral. acropora branch's out and curve upwards like that! some types of wellophelial are symetrical like that. possible an extinct type mabe. just my thoughts on it! awsome pic thought!

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My bet is that it's a coral. I'm not 100% on that, but for now, that's what I think. Not an acropora, but the septa of a rugose. I sent the picture to a friend of mine that I went to school with (he was getting his PhD in geology when I was getting my BS). No answer yet.
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Postby wendy » Dec 17, 2007 3:24 pm

I think it is some sort of art, placed in the cave million sof years ago by aliens from space.
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