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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fossilized Swedish Ferns: Don't Step on My Toe, Sis!


       The beauty of this 180 million-year-old fossilized fern from southern Sweden shows cells in various stages of mitosis. It combines both rocks and plant organelles frozen in a volcanic flow.





      The study was published last week in by Benjamin Bomfleur, Vivi Vajda, et al:


             FOSSIL FERN CHROMOSOMES


      The fossil had been languishing in a Swedish Museum drawer since the 1960's. The amazing thing about the specimen is the degree of cell detail shown with nuclei intact, distinct cytoplasm, and cells dividing, preserved as a hot brine of minerals replaced the cell structures. What a mitosis show!



     The fossilized fern in the family Osmundaceae is essentially identical to the modern day Royal Fern, with little change in genome or DNA content. Like the classic horsetail fern, this Royal Fern is the same today as during the Jurassic Era. It is quite comparable to the cinnamon fern of the eastern U.S. and Canada.

     This living fossil cinnamon fern reminds me, on a different scale, of mudcracks and other features seen on aerial images and segues to this amazing view of Moab, Utah, just published this week by the U. S. Geological Survey:

     
    The wind deposited and eroded features includes numerous fins and arches show in the southwest and northeast portions of the image around the central city of Moab. These features on the ground in the Jurassic Entrada Sandstone look amazing and represent such change:





   So, on one hand, here's a Jurassic fossil fern that hasn't changed in 180 million years, and a Jurassic-deposited landscape that is being eroded and changed every day. Recent collapses of arches in nearby Arches National Park allude to this change.

    Isn't geology grand in all the contrasts and similarities? Have you been to these places? Were you in awe, wonder, happy and rich in fossils?


A fossil and Utah fan,


Word Woman (Scientific Steph)

25 comments:

  1. Do you have a favorite Utah place? Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef, Deadhorse Point, Goblin Valley, Fisher Tower, the Colorado River~~hard to pick just one!

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  2. I've never been to Utah, though we plan to visit Bryce &/or Zion this year or next.

    And, don't step on my blue Swede shoes, either...

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  3. Ha ha! Blue Swede shoes--wish I'd said that. Curious--did you read about the fossil fern elsewhere? The images were too good to pass up. . .

    You and your wife will have a great time in Bryce and Zion. Both are relatively close to each other. Favorite trails: Peek-a-boo in Bryce and Angel's Landing in Zion. Escalante is also a new, beautiful NP and pretty close by Utah standards.

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  4. Nope, hadn't heard of the fossil ferns before. With fronds like those, who needs ammonites?

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    1. I was trying for something more fossil-y.

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    2. Yeah, I knew that but there are some fossil sea anemones...
      "Most Actiniaria do not form hard parts that can be recognized as fossils, but a few do exist; Mackenzia, from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of Canada, is the oldest fossil identified as a sea anemone."

      Your fossil-y efforts are lauded though.

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    3. Ah, the Burgess Shale! Wasn't Wonderful Life, uh, wonderful? I believe I've previously mentioned Charlie Walcott's pigeons (while discussing a rubber chicken that didn't cross the road) -- he was a scion of the discoverer of those fossils.

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  5. Coincidentally, the reason we may postpone Utah hiking until next year is that our niece just landed a summer internship with the State department in Sweden, and we're thinking of visiting her there.

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    1. Oh, Sweden sounds great. Is this the Stanford niece?

      Utah is sooooo worth a rambling though. If I had only one place to pick it would be the Primitive Trail in Arches NP...

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    2. Stanford's the son. This is the Chicago niece, Berkeley's sister. Speaking of Chicago, in case you were wondering how Chicago Els get up there, turns out they just take the escalator.

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    3. Oops, I meant Berkeley. All those CA colleges look alike ;-).

      Speaking of colleges, today Smith is celebrating Gloria Steinem ('56) and her four-score birthday.

      Crazy story from Chicago!

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    4. Thanks for sharing that piece on GS. HERE is Kathleen McCartney's (Smith's President) piece. The college has sent out half a dozen news releases so far ;-)

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  6. Apropos of nothing, my wife claims the background wallpaper on this blog looks like dead babies. My niece sees pigs. I've previously said that I don't have the imagination to be a radiologist; they just look like rocks to me.

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    1. I've been thinking about a simpler look for the background. See what y'all think.

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  7. Looks OK to me, except I'm curious about the part I can't see that's hidden behind the text. For that matter, I'm curious about what I can see. What is it? But I was OK with the rocks/pigs/dead babies.

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    1. It's Ganymede. Blogger does a weird tiling thing where the image can be tiled everywhere (but that interferes with title and sidebars) or tiled vertically or horizontally. Or be just smack dab in the middle of the title. I grew weary of fiddling with it.

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  8. Data analytics, especially around baseball, looks like an interesting topic:

    http://www.smith.edu/news/new-book-analyzes-baseball-analytics/

    (Back to some crossed-nicols rock sections around the blog edges).

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  9. BTW, after I saw "Don't Step on My Toe" followed by references to fallen arches, I was sure I was walking into a podiatry joke, but none seems to be, uh, afoot.

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    1. Hey, why didn't I think of that?! Foot/shoe humor seems to be your thing this week. ;-) Toetally unexpected.

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  10. Climate change in CA--live public lecture from USGS/Menlo Park in about an hour:

    http://online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/live.html

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  11. SS,

    Love the Moab Sandstone photo (glimpse of sands of present time through the hourglass of a camera lens) and your tie-in with the timeless fossil fern. I’m still struggling to peer through a glass darkly when it comes to science (other than abstract mathematics), but I am gathering, from PEOTS, that the seeming twains of geology and chemistry oftentimes meet, more than meets the naked eye, anyway.

    Fossils are life forms (mitosis, chemical building blocks) preserved, embedded over the ages and under the “shifting sands” that constantly shuffle the earth’s surface like a deck shuffled, dealt out and spread around in a game of 52-Card Pick-Up. And, over time, even the seemingly permanent “rocks of Gibralter” eventually fall (metaphor shift ahead!) like dominoes stacked on end (tectonic plate shifts, earthquakes, garden-variety erosion).

    Never been to Utah (the Beehive State, see Randy Newman). Will put it on my bucket list. The Utah Tourism Bureau should put you on their payroll (and deny AbqGuerrilla parole).

    Data analytics (and baseball sabermetrics?). Count me in. Love baseball. (Wanted to be a major leaguer till about age 20. What changed my mind? No talent.) Lots of hidden science in sport (as Mitt would put it). Hmmm, Mitt, good name for a catcher or, in the olden days, first-baseman.

    jan,

    What the el? Times reports the train operator “dozed off”… and bulldozed on up. I don’t blame the operator, though; I blame the train. It was confused, had an identity crisis. Elevated trains ought be restricted to Elevators. Only Escalated trains belong on Escalators. (A Trains belong in the grooves of records by Duke Essington…, er, Ellington.)

    Speaking of A’s, L’s and S’s, Years ago, a Norwegian named Gunnar wed a Greek named Odessa, who bore a baby boy. She wanted to name it after a Greek letter, something ending in “a,” like Alpha, Lambda (Nice choice!) or Sigma. Gunnar preferred a more traditional Scandinavian name like Alf, Lothar or Sigurd. So they compromised and named the boy Uffda. This pleased the Norse gods but rankled the Greek gods. “Too much Uff, not enough da!” they griped.

    But the gods were soon appeased when Clio mused that the Greeks could appropriate the name Uffda and incorporate it into their alphabet. “We’re already two letters short of those insufferable Romans with their hoity-toity 26-letter Latin alphabet,” she said. “And we could use an F. It’s difficult pronouncing words lile ‘insufferable’ without one… make that two.”

    And that’s the tale of how the Greeks added a twenty-fifth letter to their alfabet.

    Finally, jan, regarding your March 25, 1:05 PM post, What’s all this about “Stanford and Son?” Did Redd Foxx come back to life after suffering “the big one and joining (his late wife) Weezy in heaven?” Wait, wasn’t Weezy in “The Jeffersons?” Suddenly I’m feeling very presidential.

    Serendipity-doo-dah of the week: Sanford and Son was based on the BBC’s Steptoe and son. See LegoLink. (Still practicing HTML)

    Seriously, jan, I learn a lot from you as well as from SS. Thanks.

    LegoUffda

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    1. Thanks for your comments, lego. I like to tie in different threads of news in a unique way so I am glad it worked for you. Your analogies make me smile.

      We are expecting 70 degree F weather here today so will be out enjoying it!

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