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Transition to Secondary structures

Transition to Secondary - large plate
 

Transition to Secondary structures (Uebergangs-und secundaere gebilde) – equivalent to the modern geological time terminology of Late Palaeozoic to Mesozoic eras.

These eras saw dramatic changes in the Earth’s natural history, notably the development of more sophisticated life forms such as fish, amphibians and reptiles, and the appearance flowering plants and conifers. 

Click on an area of plate to see the fossils in more detail.






Fossil footprints
 

Fossil footprints

Top: Ornithichnites Giganteus, a bird-like creature, first described and named by Edward Hitchcock in 1836. The footprints were found in the New Red Sandstone, Connecticut.

Bottom and right: Chirotherium footprints, from sandstone, Hildburghausen, first found in 1834. The five-toed nature of the prints, especially as one of the toes looked like a thumb, caused confusion in regards to what the animal actually was as no other remains apart from footprints have been found.  It is now considered to be an early ancestor of the crocodile. 

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Ichthyosaur  

Plesiosaurus dolichodeiros (Left): Discovered by Thomas Hawkins in the Lias of Street, near Glastonbury. According to William Buckland, the first specimens of this particular species of animal were found in 1823.

Ichthyosaurus (Top right): Remains of Ichthyosaurs had been found since the 17th century, however the first complete specimen was discovered by Joseph Anning and his more famous sister Mary Anning between 1811 and 1812. 

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Coprolite
  Coprolite, or fossil faeces

Found in the Lias at Lyme Regis, William Buckland famously described and named these ‘petrified’ forms in his paper for the Geological Society in 1829, “On the Discovery of Coprolites, or Fossil Fæces, in the Lias at Lyme Regis, and in other Formations”, ‘Transactions of the Geological Society of London’, Series 2, Volume 3 (1829).

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Agassiz fish reconstructions
  Scale details and reconstructions of various genera of fossil fish

Although published in William Buckland's 'Bridgewater Treatise', the illustrations were originally commissioned for inclusion in Louis Agassiz’s ‘Recherches sur les Poissons Fossiles’ (1833-1844).

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Scorpion
 

Fossil scorpion of the genus Cyclophthalmus

Found in the Coal formation of Bohemia, in a quarry of sandy argillaceous Schist. Even the skin, hairs and pores of the tracheae of the animal were preserved.

In the same stone were many carbonized fragments of vegetable remains, including a large fossil nut (on the left hand side).

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Belemnites  

Illustrations of the genus Belemnosepia (a cuttlefish-like cephalopod).

On the left is Belemnites ovalis, from Lyme Regis, which was in the collection of the famous fossil collector Elizabeth Philpot. The two smaller ones to the right are belemnites from the Jura limestone of Solnhofen, figured by George Graf von Münster, Count Münster, and originally published in Ami Boué’s '‘Mémoires géologiques’ (1832).

Elizabeth Philpot's friend Mary Anning suggested that the fossilised contents from the ink bags of belemnites could be ground up to create a drawing ink. Fossil sepia, as it was known, became extremely popular at the time to depict images of fossils. 

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Fossil trees
  Remains of plants from the Coal Formation

Left: branch from Lepidodendron Sternbergii found in the roof of a coal mine at Swina, in Bohemia.

Middle: Stigmaria ficoides from Shale in the roof of the Jarrow colliery near Newcastle.

Right: Base of a large trunk of Sigillaria standing in 1803 in the cliff at Bog Hall, near Newbiggin, on the coast of Northumberland.  The specimen was reported as being around 5ft high and 2ft 3in in diameter.

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Petrified forest
  Section of a cliff east of Lulworth Cove, Dorset 

The image shows the inclined position of the petrified stumps of large conifers, and of the bed of black mould and pebbles in which they grew between the Portland and Purbeck stone.  Originally published in William Buckland’s and Henry Thomas De la Beche’s paper: “On the Geology of the Neighbourhood of Weymouth and the adjacent Parts of the Coast of Dorset”, ‘Transactions of the Geological Society of London’, Series 2, Volume 4 (1835).

Buckland noted that the plants belonged to a species which is now confined to the warmer regions of the earth but were at a former period native to the south coast of England.

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