Monday, 27 March 2017

Algae or Fossil?

I'm currently basking in the sunshine on the Isle of Skye. I'm actually a bit sunburned. The group of palaeontologists I'm part of, are here not just to appreciate the stunning scenery, but to find and collect the fossils of micro-vertebrates (small vertebrate animals, like mammals and salamanders) from Middle Jurassic rock formations.

Last year around this time, I was on Skye for the same reason. We found a lot of good fossils, but it always takes some time to recognise what you're looking for in the field. One splodge on a rock is a bit of scrappy plant, the next might be a nice bone. It takes time to 'get your eye in', as they say.

I blogged a game of Plant or Bone? last year to illustrate how hard identifying things in the field can be. This year, I'd like to share a new game: Algae or Fossil? Our fossils of interest are incredibly small, and often resemble the black algae that populates the shoreline. Can you tell the difference?

1. Blob of algae, or fossil bone?

2. It's a splat, it's a fossil, it's a bird poo - who can tell?

3. That has to be a bone, right?

4. Yet another scattering of bitties, but should we be collecting it?
5. Oh look, another black thingy.

6. Your last chance to get it right....

Now check your answers below...

Answers: 1. Yup, it's a limb bone of something or other. 2. It might look like a bunch of tiny bones, but it is algae. 3. A blob - of algae again. 4. Yup, these are bones. Teensy weensy little Jurassic bones. 5. Yummy black bone, though not worth collecting. 6. Nope, tis algae.

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