A rare 520-million-year-old fossil shaped like a 'squashed bird's nest' that will help to shed new light on life within Earth's ancient seas has been discovered in China by an international research team. The fossil is of a probable ‘chancelloriid’, a group of bizarre, balloon-shaped animals with an outer skeleton of defensive spines.
Dinosaur 13 is going to be on CNN on Thursday, December 11th, 2015 at 8 and 11 PM EST and an encore presentation on Sunday, December 14th, also at 8 and 11 PM EST. It's gotten good reviews. More information is at this website.
If you haven't seen the Biomechanics Exhibit at the Field Museum, your time is running out. It closes on January 4th 2015. It's a great display, very educational. It shows how we (and the diverse life around us) are biological machines. There are sections on teeth, bones, senses, flight, etc. It compares and contrasts the various methods that evolution has developed over the years. Here's the online link. Don't miss it in person.
While you're there, don't forget to say hello to our friend Sue!
A very well preserved 40,000 year old mammoth went on display in Moscow. The young wooly mammoth's carcass was in excellent condition when it was pulled out of the permafrost. It was discovered in Yakutia in 2010. And, has been named Yuka.
Albert Protopopov, a researcher from Yakutia, said Yuka’s carcass showed signs that humans hunted for mammoths during the Ice Age. The mammoth, between 6 and 9 years old when it died, also had injuries from a fight with another predator, he said.
Yuka was pulled out of permafrost in spectacular condition, its soft tissue and reddish fur well preserved. Even most of its brain is intact, offering scientists a rare opportunity to study it.
Up to 13 feet tall and 10 tons in weight, mammoths once ranged from Russia and northern China to Europe and most of North America. They were driven to extinction by humans and a changing climate around 10,000 years ago. The Asian elephant is the most closely related animal alive today.
ESCONI Mineralogy Meeting 7:30 p.m. College of Dupage, - Tech Ed (TEC) Building, Room 1038B (Map) - Topic: Agates by Jeff Anderson, noted Agate Dealer and photographer
Fri, Nov. 14
ESCONI General Meeting 8:00 p.m. College of Dupage, - Tech Ed (TEC) Building, Room 1038B (Map) Topic: Revelations in the 'Land of Conjecture' - Cemeteries or Villages? Late Prehistoric Discoveries in the Black Desert, Jordan by Yorke Rowan, Oriental Institute.
Sat, Nov. 15
ESCONI Paleontology Meeting 7:30 p.m. College of Dupage, - Tech Ed Building (TEC), Room 1038B (Map) Topic: Fern Glen Formation, Mississippian, Eastern Missouri by ESCONI member, Chris Cozert
Sat. Nov. 22
Archaeology Study Group Meeting. 7:30 p.m. College of Dupage, - Tech Ed Building (TEC), Room 1038B (Map) Topic:Money and currency of the Colonies prior to, during and after the Revolutionary War by ESCONI member, Eric Schmidt
CBC Radio's "Quirks and Quarks" recently did a story on Deinocheirus. Seems there are now multiple specimens and we know what it looked like and what it ate. A very interesting story!
For fifty years, the dinosaur Deinocheirus has only been known from a pair of massive clawed arms, discovered in Mongolia in 1965. Without the rest of the fossil, researchers could only speculate what kind of animal lay behind those arms. But the mystery of Deinocheirus has now been solved. Dr Philip Currie, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Dinosaur Paleobiology at the University of Alberta, and his colleagues, have revealed the discovery of two new specimens, allowing them to understand the whole dinosaur. Initially they'd recovered only the bodies, as the heads, hands and feet had been taken by fossil poachers. But these were recently recovered, allowing the scientists to understand the whole animal. And Dr. Currie says that it's the strangest animal he's encountered in his long career.
CBC Radio's "Quirks and Quarks" is a great science podcast with pretty frequent stories on Dinosaurs and other Earth Science topics. Check it out. It's a weekly show available for free download as a podcast.
This history of money in the United States: Colonial Currency and its evolution from the early 1700's to the Revolutionary War: By Eric Schmidt
Travel back in time to when the British controlled the colonies. The Paper Currency system that was used has changed dramatically over the last 230+ years. Eric will take you on a journey from the dawn of the paper currency system to the independence of the colonies after the Revolutionary War. Some of the currency used was quite beautiful, others quite crude. Most were hand signed. Some are extremely valuable, others are quite common.
Eric will have on hand examples of authentic paper Currency from 1776 and 1783. These are quite historic notes which you can examine first hand.
Empty your pockets and come on out with your old paper money from the 1700s!
On October 25, 2014 the archaeology study group was led by the study group chair Eric Schmidt. Eric discussed events leading up to, during and after the death of King Richard the third. Eric focused on the archaeology site, the dig, the finds, and the cause of death of King Richard the third.
King Richard was the last King to die in battle-in 1485. His remains were lost but thanks to a small funding provided by the King Richard the third society, enough money was raised excavate the site. Unfortunately the amount raised would allow the archaeologist to dig only 1% of the area where Richard was thought to be buried.
With a little bit of luck, and a good amount of skill, the archaeologists found a leg bone the very next day-this turned out to be Richard. Eric discussed the strategy of the dig, the location where he was found and the DNA analysis used to prove his identity.
During his research on this topic, Eric had a conversation with Dr. Turi King, the archaeologist who was responsible for testing the DNA of Richard. Eric explained her involvement and showed a video which explain how the DNA analysis was carried out.
Dr. King was very happy to see such an interest in this topic. She felt fortunate to be one of seven archaeologists involved in the dig and appreciated the efforts that ESCONI had in the topic.
The presentation concluded with Eric giving away two Jetons from the 1560s. Jetons were small brass coins used as counters prior to the Abacus. They were minted in Nuremberg Germany for the use in France. These were historical items, and are widely Collected in the numismatic community.
It is time to celebrate the holiday season with our annual ESCONI get together.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5th, 2014
5:30 to 7:30 pm
311 East Loop Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
PLEASE NOTE: The Holiday party will be at Cozymel's in Wheaton on Butterfield just east of Naperville Rd. For $15.99 per person, they will provide us a buffet with 3 entree choices (fajitas, enchiladas and tamales) along with chips and salsa, hot flour or corn tortillas, rice and refritos or black beans. Drinks are not included.
Be prepared to pay with CASH!
We will continue our tradition of a Secret Santa gift exchange. This grab bag is optional. If you do want to participate, please make sure that your gift is earth science related, has a value of around $15.00 and is labeled “male” or “female” if it is a gender specific gift.
If you would like to attend the Holiday Party, please RSVP by December 4th to
After the party, ESCONI is honored to have as guest speaker, Bill Simpson, Head of Geological Collections at the Field Museum. His presentation is entitled, How Big Was She? Using 3D Scanning Technology to Estimate the Live Weight of SUE.
The lecture will be held at The College of DuPage in Room 1038B of the Tec Building at 8:00 pm.
So even if you can’t attend the Holiday Party, please join us for our General Meeting and an exciting presentation. Happy holidays!
It's nice to see that Palaeontology is getting a little attention. But, this is really just wrong. What is that a Knightia fossil from Fossil Lake next to a pterosaur head? Also, convenient that the pterosaur bones were already prepped out. Dr. Grant from "Jusassic Park" comes to mind...
Seems we have some educating to do. Fossil hunting is so much more satisfying.
Do you have an interest in archaeology or history? Do you have a story to tell about a recent field trip or archaeological dig? Do you like to teach others about an interest you have in archaeology? Do you want to learn more about archaeology in general?
We are always looking for speakers and members to talk about the science of archaeology and learn more as it relates to this fascinating field. Archaeology is a remarkable field in which the subject matter is the essentially endless. Anyone is welcome to present or attend these meetings. Past meetings have included Native American artifacts, shipwrecks, ancient coins, and the shroud of Turin. There are also field trips-so stay tuned!
The Archaeology and history of King Richard III of England - presented by Eric Schmidt
Into 2012, archaeologists unearthed the remains of Richard the Third of England. This find is not only archaeologically significant, it is also historically remarkable. What made King Richard the third so famous? How were Archaeologists able to prove that the bones were actually his? Where was his grave actually found?
Attend this study group meeting and find out the answers to these interesting questions. You will learn a little bit about the king, and why historians are attracted to his legacy.
In addition, there will be a raffle of a few medieval coins minted in the 1400s and 1500s. There is no charge for the raffle. All you need to do is attend this meeting.
Sounds interesting... come out and get your archaeology on!
Brian Switek has a great article on bird evolution on the blog Phenomena at National Geographic.
The spark for this evolutionary explosion isn’t yet known. Flight could be a major factor, allowing birds to be adapted in starkly different ways from their earthbound ancestors. (Although, of course, nonavian dinosaurs like Microraptor found their own way into the air.) Paleontology thrives on such mysteries. For now, though, the new study underscores the fact that the change from dinosaur to bird is one of the most surprising and best-documented evolutionary transformations of all time. There is no sharp dividing line between dinosaur and bird. “Birds”, Brusatte and coauthors conclude, “are a contiuum of millions of years of theropod evolution.”
ESCONI Field Trip: St. Paul Quarry, To sign up, contact John at Fossilnautiloid@aol.com. You may also sign up at the September General and Paleo meetings.
Fri, Oct 10, 2014
ESCONI General Meeting 8:00 p.m. College of Dupage, - Tech Ed (TEC) Building, Room 1038B (Map) Topic: Chris Widga, Assistant Curator of Geology, Illinois State Museum, Last of the American Elephants: The Midwestern Mammoth and Mastodon Project
The Midwest has one of the richest records of Ice Age proboscideans on the continent. The Midwestern Mammoth and Mastodon project (aka, the M-cubed project) is a multi-year effort to 1) inventory proboscidean collections across the region, 2) tighten up the chronology of mammoth and mastodon extinctions, and 3) explore the paleoecology of these animals through high-resolution stable isotope studies (i.e., chemical signatures of diet and mobility). Collectively, these studies suggest a more nuanced story of mammoth and mastodon extinction in the Midwest. This presentation will focus on our evolving understanding of proboscidean ecology and extinction in the region.
Sat., Oct 11, 2014
ESCONI Mineralogy Meeting 7:30 p.m. College of Dupage, - Tech Ed (TEC) Building, Room 1038B (Map) - Topic: Minerals of Pennsylvania
ESCONI Paleontology Meeting 7:30 p.m. College of Dupage, - Tech Ed Building (TEC), Room 1038B (Map) Topic: Celebrating National Fossil Day - Bring your favorite fossil!
Fri, Oct 25, 2014
ESCONI Board Meeting. 7:30 p.m. Telephone Conference Call - contact Karen Norquist or the web site admin to attend - we can give you the phone number to call and conference call number.
Sat. Oct. 25, 2014
Archaeology Study Group Meeting. 7:30 p.m. College of Dupage, - Tech Ed Building (TEC), Room 1038B (Map) Topic: The Archaeology and history of King Richard III of England-presented by Eric Schmidt.
Into 2012, archaeologists unearthed the remains of Richard the Third of England. This find is not only archaeologically significant, it is also historically remarkable. What made King Richard the third so famous? How were Archaeologists able to prove that the bones were actually his? Where was his grave actually found?Attend this study group meeting and find out the answers to these interesting questions. You will learn a little bit about the king, and why historians are attracted to his legacy. In addition, Eric will be raffling off a few medieval coins minted in the 1400s and 1500s. There is no charge for the raffle. All you need to do is attend this meeting.
Mosasaurs have long been determined to be apex predators in the Cretateous oceans. But still, there has been questions as to what they ate. But now, from a mosasaur fossil found in 2008 in Alberta, Canada’s Korite International Ammolite Mine, there are some tantalizing clues. It is summarized nicely by Brian Switek in he Phenomena blog over at National Geographic story. The actual specimen is described in a paper in the Journal of Vertabrate Palaeontology.
The name of the extinct mammal is Jaggermeryx naida, or Jagger’s water nymph. It was sort of a mix between a slender hippo and a long legged pig. It lived about 19 million years ago in Egypt. After scientists studied the bone structure of the skull, it was determined to have a large tongue and lips. They considered naming it after Angelina Jolie, but thought she wouldn't be pleased, so they switched to Mick Jagger. Link
This is the 3rd extinct animal for which Mick Jagger is the namesake.