We are at a point with the excavation where we are making steady progress in collecting the insect bed each week. With a crew of 2 volunteers and 5 VMNH staff, we collected another ~5 cubic feet of insect bed and made good progress on uncovering more.
In previous weeks, we found some evidence of cones and cone-like structures. This past week, Jim found what appears to be 2 cones connected to a stem. Finds such as this help us to piece together the plant ecology at this site and therefore give us a more complete picture of the paleoenvironment of 225 Mya.
In addition to the cones specimen, I found the specimen below within the insect layer.
While helping me in the far end of the pit, Liberty, the Biology Technician at VMNH and first-timer at Solite, found a Tany. and another vertebrate and Ray found the Tany. in the second picture.
As we’ve excavated the insect layer, I’ve noticed that several other living insects like hanging out in our pit area as well. One such fossil-loving insect is the hover fly pictured below. I think it is a yellowjacket hover fly (Milesia virginiensis). It visits us each week and checks out what we’re doing.
Other frequent visitors to the pit are stinkbugs. However, one of the stink bugs had a not-so-great day. Dr. Kal Ivanov, the VMNH Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, captured the below picture of a bumble bee mimic robber fly (Laphria sp.) with its stink-bug prey (likely Halyomorpha halys).