Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Silent Rocks Do Tell Stories

Rocks...they connect us to the Earth.  On a sunny winter day, there is comfort in their solid warmth.  With their many varied colors, patterns and textures they are truly a visual and tactile delight.  But what do rocks tell us?  Do they have a story? Of course they do!

Some of my favorite rocks are those that include "trace fossils" (or ichnofossils).  In contrast to "body fossils" which are the remains of actual plants or animals within the rock, trace fossils provide a geological record of living animal activity, such as crawling, walking, resting or feeding.  Paleontologists are not always certain as to which organism is responsible the "trace" that we see, but that is what makes these rocks so much more interesting and intriguing....

Dinosaur footprints in Jurassic Sandstone
Salema, Portugal (Algarve Coast) 2011
Dinosaurs roaming the earth!  What could be more exciting?  These exceptionally well-preserved 135 million year old footprints on what appear to be lakeshore deposits are most likely those of a vegetation eating hadrosaur (known as the "duck-billed dinosaur) who walked upright (and in a very straight line...)

Sea Floor Tracks 1
Point Lobos, California 2006
Such a lovely pattern!  Though one can easily imagine that these impressions depict delicate fern-like plants, they are actually tracks of ancient organisms, probably something similar to crabs, that lived on the sea floor and propelled themselves forward with the help of their pincers and legs. Below are more tracks, approximately 60 million years old, of a different sea floor animal.
Sea Floor Tracks 2
Point Lobos, California 2008
Crustacean Burrow Fillings Series 1
Selema, Portugal (Algarve Coast) 2011
In the collapsed Jurassic sandstones along the beach of the sleepy town of Selema, on Portugal's Algarve Coast, are what look like a huge mass of entwined crocodiles!  These are actually large fossilized burrows of primitive crustaceans, probably shrimp-like organisms. The hollowed out negative space of their burrows essentially created a "mold" which was later filled with sediment that hardened and then became exposed over time. Below are additional burrow fillings that create an abstract sedimentary rock "bas-relief" forming quite a pleasing composition of contrasting figure and ground.
Crustacean Burrow Fillings Series 2
Selema, Portugal (Algarve Coast) 2011
Inanimate rocks are full of the evidence of life.  Silent rocks do tell stories....just ask any geologist or paleoecologist, and have some fun exploring!

All of the images posted here are available for purchase as 8x10 and 5x7 fine art prints and A2 size greeting cards (all printed on archival water color paper) at http://DigitalYak.etsy.com/.  Be sure to send me a message if there is something you'd like that you don't see listed, or if you'd like a custom size or item, as I truly enjoy creating one of a kind items that hold special meaning. Thanks!!

No comments:

Post a Comment