Utah Trip 5-2014

Paleozoic invertebrates of Millard County Utah, May 28th-31st, 2014.  NCFC Vice President, “JB” Bain, led a trip that included Brian and Brigid Kram and three of their young children (Kolbe, Aidan, and Agnes); Pam and Charlie Causey; Shelda, Richard, and Laura Aultman; and Dana Goodnight.  On the first day, we collected diverse brachiopods and other inverts in the rich thanatocoenosis of Pseudozaphrentoides horn corals in the Pennsylvanian portion of the Ely Limestone in the northern portion of the Foote Range (Janus 2007, number 3; JB calls this site “the mythic graveyard, where horn corals went to die!”).  After lunch, we collected crinoids, pelecypods, gastropods, tabulate and horn corals, bryozoans, and fragments of cephalopods and trilobites (“tri-low-bits-and-pieces”, mostly pygidia or “tri-low-butts”) in the Mississippian Chainman Shale at Conger Spring, near Conger Mountain (Janus 2006, number 2, and Janus 2007, number 3).  Spoor of wild ponies was abundant at both sites.  That night, we camped at Crystal Peak Pass (CPP), immediately north of Crystal Peak, in the elfin forest (Pinyon-Juniper woodland).  On day two, we explored the Ordovician Pogonip Group, notably the Kanosh Shale, at CPP, where we found a variety of invertebrate species, many preserved in plates of carbonate hardground (Janus 2010, number 4).  Cowboys and shepherds have camped at CPP since the Nineteenth Century, as evidenced by lavender glass shards and soldered cans left in their trash.  The following two nights, we camped in Wheeler Amphitheater, House Range, and collected in the Middle Cambrian Wheeler Shale on public lands and at the U-Dig pay quarry.  Pioneer geologist, Charles Walcott, camped here at the beginning of the Twentieth Century while doing ground-breaking work on the Cambrian of North America.  On the night of May 29th, as JB was driving into the town of Delta to get cell-phone reception, he encountered a group of eight wild mustangs at the stand-pipe fed by Antelope Spring—this herd included two colts (Equus caballus).  Non-fossil loot included calcite plates and dendrites.  Most trilobites we found were the small- to medium-sized Utah state fossil, Elrathia kingii, and the similar Bolaspidella.  Small, eyeless trilobites, Itagnostus (née Peronopsis) interstricutus, were locally abundant, as were primitive, univalve brachiopods superficially resembling fish scales (Acrothele subsida).  We found a few big-honker trilobites, Asaphiscus wheeleri, a favorite species of the local diggers, including a museum-quality specimen found by one of the Kram children.