Solite Day 8

There was beautiful weather at the Solite Quarry today, and we spent several hours walking through the 170 meters of sediment exposed along one wall of the quarry. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a range of sedimentary features exposed through the section, including these cross-laminations found today by Cynthia Liutkus from Appalachian State.

There’s so much stuff going on in this rock it’s hard to interpret it at all:

Considering that there is 170 m of sediment exposed in this section, it’s striking to realize that all the fossils we’re currently collecting come from a section less than 30 cm thick (between the red arrows below):

There were two particularly impressive finds today. One was the largely complete tail of a coelacanth, possibly with more of the fish preserved, shown below:

Compare this to the tail of the modern coelacanth, Latimeria (shown from the opposite side):

The other big find (if it’s correctly identified) was a series of ribs from the gliding reptile Mecistotrachelos:

I’m really uncertain about this one. Only two specimens of Mecistotrachelos are known, and both come from approximately the same bed as this specimen. Compare this specimen to a CT scan of one of the other specimens:

The problem is that Mecistotrachelos has eight elongate ribs on each side, while the new specimen seems to include at least 12 ribs (if that’s what they are). It could be that parts of both wings are preserved – or maybe it’s not Mecistotrachelos at all.

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