Solite Day 10

We had a more productive day today and found several insects, including the one shown above. I’d like to have a better picture, but that will have to wait for a microscope photo; this is the best my hand-held camera can do with a 1 mm insect in the field. Below are two waterbug nymphs (the one on the right includes only the posterior portion):

We also found several Tanytrachelos today, including this nice example that Brett found:

Unfortunately, this specimen is missing the head, but the feet are well preserved. The back legs are somewhat oddly preserved, with one leg tucked under the body so that both feet are on the same side of the vertebral column (the arrows are pointing to the back feet):

This tany also has an exquisite front foot, with all five fingers including the terminal claws:

The weather is supposed to turn bad tomorrow, so this may be our last day at Solite this week (Tuesday was supposed to be our last day). In anticipation of the rain, we removed a large amount of the insect bed to bring back to the museum for later examination.

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3 Responses to Solite Day 10

  1. Brian Beatty says:

    The number of specimens of Tanytrachelos is really great. It would be interesting to do a study of intraspecific variation or ontogeny in them. If it were done in concert with studies of modern taxa that form a phylogenetic bracket of it, it may illuminate some interesting polymorphism or ontogenetic shifts, and their evolutionary timing. Would there be a student at the VMNH interested in that sort of thing?

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    Ha! Yes, there would be; there’s a student at VA Tech working on a few of those issues. You hit on a lot of the interesting potential studies that could be done with Tanytrachelos, especially considering that it’s the ONLY protorosaur with a large potential population to study.

    Most of the tanys we’ve collected come from just 2 cycles in the quarry; with further collecting there’s also the potential to look at evolutionary changes over a period of 200,000-500,000 years in a single basin. That’s not something we can often do with stuff as old as the Triassic (at least not with vertebrates).

    We already suspect the tanys are sexually dimorphic; we haven’t even really started to speculate much about ontogenetic variation, but the potential is definitely there.

  3. Alton Dooley says:

    Nick, Andy, and David headed back to Scotland today, so we’ve pretty much wrapped up this Solite excavation. It was pretty productive; we recovered probably 30 Tanytrachelos, and Andy tells me we found about 50 insects (including isolated wings and other bits).

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