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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stromatolites: Fossil and Living Cyanobacteria Algal Mounds that Resemble a Cross between a Cauliflower and a Rock

     Stromatolites are mounds of cyanobacteria and sediment that have been found in the fossil record since 3.5 billion years ago in the Archean time period. The mounds resemble a cross between a cauliflower and a rock:





      Living stromatolites were not discovered until 1956 in Shark Bay off the west coast of Australia (There's some poetry to accompany this stromatolite tour). These present-day algal mounds are also found in the Bahamas.




      "Stromatolite" is derived from stroma, Latin for layer, and it is easy to see why. The laminae are particularly well-defined, especially in thin section.




       Shark Bay is the site of discovery of 
chlorophyll f, a type form of chlorophyll that absorbs further in the infrared light part of the spectrum (red) than other chlorophylls. (Are you blue-green with envy?)




     Chlorophyll f's discovery was made by scientists at the University of Sydney led by Dr. Min Chen. It is the first discovery of a new form of chlorophyll since about the time stromatolites were discovered in Shark Bay. 

        Pop Quiz:

1) Where are these stromatolites? (They are poetically called "Petrified Sea Gardens.")



2) Based on today's post, what are these organic structures called?



3)  Where are these stromatolites? Hint: maple syrup is big here.



4) Let out your inner POETS for PEOTS: Write your best stromatolite haiku, limerick, or any other poetry form. Help celebrate two years of scientists who like to write and writers who like science. . .

Peeling those (not-always round) onion layers,
Steph



49 comments:

  1. Oh, stromatolites!
    the blue-green cauliflowers
    blooming in Shark's Bay.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very poetic haiku, Steph,
      My haiku, below, it a bit more like an anthem...

      Pop Quiz:
      1. At a wastewater treatment plant?
      2. Fingers
      3.
      Haiku:
      Stromboli’s like lox…
      Strom Thurmond served it in crocks.
      Stromatolite rocks!

      LegoStromba

      Delete
    2. Poetry challenge brings POETS out of the wood work to PEOTS! Hahaha! Thanks, Lego.

      You get a second try on the pop quiz. ;-)

      Delete
  2. Seven syllables-
    Cyanobacteria-
    Haiku middle line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, I am blue-green with envy. Thanks, David.

      Delete
  3. David, jan, and other Utah travelers: check out the stromatolites in the erg.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just checking in briefly between hikes. While the scenery here is certainly magnificent, I'm losing a bit of my respect for the process that created it after discovering just how soft this sandstone is. I mean, if I can break off a piece of canyon wall with my bare hands and crumble it to sand, just how impressed am I supposed to be with the power of the mighty Virgin River trickle? I was really surprised to learn that the erosion of the over 2000-foot deep Zion Canyon began just 3000 years ago.

      But I'll keep an eye out for stromatolites.

      Delete
    2. Glad you are enjoying the hikes in Zion in gorgeous September weather.

      So the Navajo Sandstone strength does not impress you? How about the color and the cross-beds?!

      Hope you do see some stromatolites!

      Delete
  4. When I mentioned today was "Coffee Day" to a friend she said "Coffee needs its own day?"

    She has a point.

    How about today as "Stromatolite Day?" We could put out the welcome algal mat and everything. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My friend who is not a blogger shares this haiku:

      Stromatolite Day,
      Algal mats bloom in Shark Bay,
      Glory sin caffeine.

      Thanks, Lauren, for your haiku and your support of Stromatolite Day!

      Delete
  5. There once was a Woman of Words,
    Who has recently written 'bout Turds.
    And now Stromatolites
    Is about which she writes
    For this group of "Scientist" Nerds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much, David!

      Is there any poetry form you don't do well?!

      I am thinking perhaps we ought to have an annual PEOTS POETS event every year in late September.

      Delete
    2. Steph,

      Hey! I call fowl! ("Here, chickee, chickee")... No. Wait. I call foul! Lauren and David actually submitted solid creative poetic efforts. No fair!

      Pop Quiz Answers (second attempt, make-up test!):
      1. Dead Sea?
      2. Forestromatolites?
      3. On bluffs near Concord, New Hampshire?
      4. Essay Question:
      Limerick:
      After sundown, to see we must add a light
      Called the moon, it’s Earth’s natural satellite.
      Is it made of bleu cheese?
      Perhaps sugar snap peas?
      No, moon’s sod is not pods, it’s stromatolite!

      LegoLimericalLambda

      Delete
  6. Hey Lego, you are most assuredly part of the Live PEOTS POETS Society! I like it and it made me laugh.

    I'll answer 1) for now. More Later. The Petrified Sea Gardens are in Saratoga Springs, NY. I guess "stromatolites" didnt sell in Saratoga.

    From Wikipedia:

    "James Hall (1811–1898), the first State Paleontologist of New York, identified them as being organic and placed stromatolites in a new genus.

    Pioneering female paleontologist Winifred Goldring (1888–1971), "who was the fourth State Paleontologist of New York,...wrote the most exhaustive study on these ancient stromatolites.

    The site was a childhood inspiration for Stephen Jay Gould who went on to become "one of the most famous paleontologists of the twentieth century".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And, I admire your tenacity, Lego, at taking the quiz again.

      Number 2): Indeed, those are tree roots right here in Colorado. They do have a stromatolite look, don't they?

      Delete
    2. As to Number 3): Hint: They are in a park that straddles the U.S. and O! Canada. . .My friends visited there this summer.

      Delete
  7. Onions are red,
    Stromatolites are blue-green,
    Canaries are somewhere
    In-between.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was just a rough draft, based on Roy G. Biv. When I got to thinking about it, if someone asked me for a color between red and blue-green, I'd probably go with some kind of off-purple something rather than yellow or orange. That's when inspiration hit! What about something purple on the outside and yellow-orange on the inside? And, really, if you think of the colors on a wheel, any one is 'between' any two others, so (after a bit of duckduckgoogling):

      Onions are red,
      Stromatolites are blue-green,
      Pluots are anything in between.

      And I thought the dinosaur angle wasfun, too.

      Delete
    2. Space between s and f, obviously.

      Delete
    3. 'Anywhere' ... probably shoulda stuck with anywhere.


      Onions are red; stromatolites are blue-green.
      Pluots are anywhere in between.

      Gee, this poetry stuff is hard work!

      Delete
    4. Economy of words, right? Poetry, for me, means trying on lots of different words for those minimal word spots. I like your final word choices and the color wheel inference.

      I like the pluot change. I have two pluot trees in my yard but no dinosaur eggs.

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. Is there no end to poop fascination?

      Delete
    2. Not in the anals (sic) of history. . .

      Delete
    3. About those "anals (sic)", I hope no one wrecked 'em.

      Delete
  9. How was the Roman Empire cut in half?

    With a pair of Caesars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In The Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar wrote "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres." I sent this quote into Car Talk many years ago, as justification for their use of the phrase "third half of the show", because the translation is "All Gaul is quartered into three halves". My brother claims he heard this used on air (with a reference to me as having sent it in) but I never did hear it. Note that I was not the translator, just a messenger reporting what I heard elsewhere.

      Delete
  10. The more I think about it, the more I believe I should recast my limerick above, as follows:

    There once was a Woman of Words,
    Who wrote for us Science-y nerds.
    But if she were so clever,
    She would never,
    Ever, write about turds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently, I am less clever than you thought ;-).

      Enjoyed the recast lime, Rick, er, David.

      Delete
    2. David,
      Limerick #2 is almost as good as Limerick #1 (which was a commode to #2).
      I believe your original inspired limerical masterpiece merits “repeating.” So:
      There once was a Woman of Words,
      Who has recently written 'bout Turds.
      And now Stromatolites
      Is about which she writes
      For this group of "Scientist" Nerds.
      But:
      I hate being a **itpicker, but I fear you misspelled a word. In light of the last word in your second line, the last word in your turd line ought to be spelled “Stromatoilets"!

      LegoT.S.EliotDidToilestAtHisPoetryAlmostAsDiligentlyAsDavidDo...Do

      Delete
    3. Ah, Lego, no mixing the stromatolite cyanobacteria with the poop bacteria, though.

      And, if you are headed to South Florida you can see 1277 coprolites, dungonnit. It is the largest private collection of coprolites and, of course, it would be shown at the Bradenton Museum (BM).

      Delete
  11. Steph, a friend of mine will be in the Denver area for a conference at the end of the month, and wants to extend his stay to do some hiking. Any recommendations?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Late October can be a little tricky in Colorado. Hell's Hole off rte 103 off I-70 is a great hike if the snow holds off. I also like Herman Gulch (exit 218 off I-70) but again, it is weather dependent.

      Two safer bets for that time frame are Golden Gate State Park, Staunton State Park(our newest state park with some great views and somewhat undiscovered) or lots of hikes off Route 285 heading southward (like Kenosha Pass).

      Today would have been a beautiful day to go!

      Delete
    2. Also, Jones Pass is magnificent (first hairpin turn on rte 40 past Empire off I-70) but might be dicey that late in the season. .

      Delete
    3. My best recommendation for late October would be the Great Sand Dunes NP nestled against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is a four hour drive from Denver south along 285 through horsts and grabens (so spectacular as you approach Fairplay). The dunes, at 750 feet high, are the tallest in North America. I have hiked there in late October and it's chilly but beautiful and not crowded. There is camping on site. Medano Creek which pulses in the spring likely won't be running. . . but it is a gorgeous area to hike. My son did a midnight hike there with the Boy Scouts one May to see a clear beetle species endemic to only the dunes; we camped and frolicked in the creek also. Hmmmm, might have to take a little jaunt there with Maizie this month!

      Delete
    4. And (just looked this up): "according to a recent Soundscape Study conducted by the National Park Service, this park is the quietest national park in the 48 contiguous United States."

      Delete
    5. And, after hiking, there's lots of good soaking and swimming spots like Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and Valley View Hot Springs.

      Delete
    6. Three guesses as to the topic of this week's blog post. . .

      :-)

      Delete
    7. Good guesses, Paul!

      Before I saw where you put your post, I thought perhaps you were answering the stromatolite quiz. I was a bit perplexed.

      Great Sand Dunes it is!

      Delete
  12. New post on "Great Sand Dunes National Park: Kinky Dunes and Funky Surges" is up!

    ReplyDelete