New donation

I received a phone call yesterday from avocational paleontologist Ron Ison, who wanted to know if VMNH would be interested in some fossil material he had collected while diving in various Virginia rivers. He offered to deliver the material to Martinsville, and showed up at the museum this morning with a box of perhaps a hundred specimens.

River material is always a little iffy for fossil collections. It’s rarely possible to determine the exact age of these specimens, which detracts somewhat from their importance. On the other hand, you sometimes find rare species that might be unknown from the area, or particular pathologies or injuries that are interesting in their on right, even if you don’t quite know what time period they’re from.

I’ve only just started going through Ron’s donation, but it includes a substantial amount of material that is new to our collection. Among these are several teeth from the toothed whale Squalodon, including the one shown at the top. Here’s another Squalodon tooth, the first incisor:

Squalodon is known in Virginia from the Oligocene Old Church Formation and from the Miocene Calvert Formation up to Bed 12. Both these units are exposed where Ron collected these teeth.

Here’s another goodie, this time collected in place in the Calvert; a pathological caudal (tail) vertebra from a baleen whale. The bottom edge of this vertebra has huge secondary bony growths covering its surface:

There are a bunch of additional elements in this collection I still need to look at more closely, including some very strange baleen whale earbones from either the Eastover or Yorktown Formation. More on those in a future post!

Thanks, Ron, for this fantastic donation!

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2 Responses to New donation

  1. boesse says:

    Are the strange ear bones petrosals, by chance???

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    Tympanic bullae. I’ll try to post pictures soon.

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