PDA

View Full Version : Any paleontologist buffs out there?


Earthling
04-04-2005, 01:11 PM
Here is an article about my next door neighbor and friend. An interesting read, if you are in to this stuff. Fruita is a small town about 6 miles from where I live.



Fruitafossor windscheffeli is born

By Gary Harmon The Daily Sentinel

Thursday, March 31, 2005

For years, Wally Windscheffel knew only one person who had a fossil named for him.

Now he knows two, the second of whom looks him in the mirror.

Back in 1998, Windscheffel made a spectacular find, though the significance of his discovery was to elude him for several years.

In an article to be published Friday in Science, a team of Carnegie Museum of Natural History scientists describe a 150-million-year-old fossilized skeleton of Fruitafossor windscheffeli, the most complete mammal known from the Jurassic Period of North America.

That means that Windscheffel’s wonder was scuttling through the brushes and ferns at the same time allosaurus was big-footing it around the territory. While allosaurus was chomping on the likes of apatosaurus, Fruitafossor windscheffeli was crunching down Jurassic-era insects, scientists suspect.

The fact that fruitafossor was underfoot during the Jurassic period is one thing. That it seems there is literally nothing else like it, is stunning.

“This thing appears to be a completely different order of mammals,” Armstrong said.

For Windscheffel, it’s a culmination of 20 years of work at the Fruita Paleontological Area in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

“As I worked both ends of the rock, it eventually occurred to me that it was possible there was a fossil all the way through this rock.

“That’s a rarity beyond imagination. You would win four or five lotteries before you find one of these.”

Windscheffel, 78, didn’t start life as fossil hunter. He worked 30 years in the Navy from World War II through the Cold War, then 12 years in San Diego as an electrical contractor.

He and his new wife, Beverly, moved to the Grand Valley in 1991, on his second visit to the area with Earth Watch.

Fascinated as he is with the rock and its treasures, Windscheffel is no collector, just a finder who passes on his discoveries to scientists who can make the most of them.

“Everything I find goes to institutions of higher learning” for study, he said. “I’m always pleased to increase man’s body of knowledge just a little here and there.”

Which is as it should be, said Steven Hall of the Bureau of Land Management.

Carnegie operates at the Fruita Paleo Area under agreement with the agency, and Windscheffel passed along his find to Carnegie.

That way, he said, discoveries made under scientific control can be preserved “so we can make sure we don’t lose artifacts that are priceless to everyone.”


Gary Harmon can be reached via e-mail at gharmon@gjds.com.


Pretty cool find. Certain features of this mammal were thought to have evolved some 50 million years ago. This predates that by another 100 million years.
Whats funny is that Wallys' toilet backed up the next day at his house and I helped him and his wife clean up the mess..(It ran about an hour before they discovered it) I told him his 15 minutes were now officially over and it was back to the shitty world for him.

Mark M
04-04-2005, 01:14 PM
Very, very kewl!!

The Mrs. is a big paleological fan, and she enjoys stuff like this.

BTW, any way your friend can make a cast of the fossil and send it my way? It'd be a nice addition to our collection.

MM
~~:)

penguinz
04-04-2005, 01:15 PM
Nothing funnier that cleaning up someone elses skat.

htismaqe
04-04-2005, 01:15 PM
A Jurassic mammal?

That's pretty cool...

Earthling
04-04-2005, 01:22 PM
Very, very kewl!!

The Mrs. is a big paleological fan, and she enjoys stuff like this.

BTW, any way your friend can make a cast of the fossil and send it my way? It'd be a nice addition to our collection.

MM
~~:)
The fossil is not in his possession any more. It now resides at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. You can view a picture of it at Carnegie Museum of Natural History news..
(http://www.carnegiemnh.org/news/05-jan-mar/032405popeye.htm)

Earthling
04-04-2005, 01:27 PM
Nothing funnier that cleaning up someone elses skat.

Yep. Wally has a really hard time getting around now. He has some fused vertibrae and he can't bend over very easy. I know he had been trying, he was really huffing and puffing when my wife and I got there. Thankfully the logs were gone but there was a huge amount of water. But hey, what are neighbors for??