the Alabama Paleontological Society, Inc.

 
 

Next APS Meeting: Monday August 1, 2016


TITLE:  The Story Behind “Footprints in Stone”:  The Coming to Fruition of a Pipe Dream


SPEAKERS:  Drs. Ron Buta and David Kopaska-Merkel


ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:

  Ron received a BS in astronomy at Case Western Reserve, a Masters in Physics at Michigan State University and finished his PhD in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984.  His thesis title was “The Structure and Dynamics of Ringed Galaxies.” Galaxy morphology and dynamics are the main focus of his astronomical research. His interest in astronomy goes back to 1965, but his interest in paleontology dates back to the early 1970s when he lived near the Cleveland Museum of Natural History while an undergraduate student at Case Western Reserve University. As much as he enjoyed natural history at that time, his interest in paleontology was not allowed to "surface" until about 1997, thanks to the Birmingham Paleontological Society and then later the Alabama Paleontological Society.

  David has a BS in biology and geology from the College of William and Mary and a geology PhD from the University of Kansas. His dissertation described sedimentology and paleontology of a carbonate formation in Utah. David is Chief of the Petroleum Systems and Technology group at the Geological Survey of Alabama. Current research includes studies of fossil reefs and mounds, and trace fossils.


ABSTRACT:

The now published book, "Footprints in Stone: Fossil Traces of Coal-Age Tetrapods," represents the culmination of seven years of work on a signature interest of the Alabama Paleontological Society. The authors, Ron Buta and David Kopaska-Merkel, will describe their views of the project, how they got involved, how the project got started, the ups and downs of writing a book of this nature, and what they learned from the experience. They will also introduce some of the people mentioned in the book, and will highlight how there is still much to be learned from the existing photographic trackway databases that came out of the project.


PRESENTATION TIME: 7:00 pm. 


LOCATION: Birmingham Zoo -- Auditorium
For directions to the Zoo, see the Zoo’s Website at
http://www.birminghamzoo.com 
Prior to the meeting everyone is invited to the optional supper at Taziki's Greek Fare in Mountain Brook next to the Hampton Inn, 2737 Highway 280 S, Mountain Brook, AL. (*NOT* the location farther out Highway 280). We gather there about 5:30/5:45pm.


PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENT:  Footprints in Stone by Ron Buta and David Kopaska-Merkel.  The long-awaited publication of the story of the preservation of the the Union Chapel Mine as the Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site occurred in June 2016.  Following a long and suspense-filled campaign by the APS during which it seemed that this priceless Carboniferous track site might be obliterated under the requirements of federal legislation, the site was taken into the State Lands of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 2004 and has since been available for field trips by schools, university classes, and other natural history-related organizations.   Footprints in Stone tells the story of the world’s most prolific Carboniferous trackway site and the people who helped preserve it.















APS Field Trip to the Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site:  APS visited the Minkin Track Site on April 9, 2016 and hosted the Fresh Air Family with about 60 visitors.  The day was perfect, with comfortable temperatures and sharp low-angle sunlight, perfect for hunting tracks.  A number of excellent finds were made.  The site has abundant Pennsylvanian fossils from the Pottsville formation (~310 million years old.















             


          

                  View of the Site                                  APS Members Bruce Relihan and Missy Turner



















          A fish swimming trace (Undichna)            Small amphibian trackway found by Missy Turner














       





Large amphibian track and invertebrate trackway         Arthropod resting trace (Arborichnus)             

















       

Multiple trilobite burrowing traces (Rusophycus)              Small arthropod trackway


















  Two large amphibian tracks (Attenosaurus)                 Medium-sized Attenosaurus trackway



















               Lycopod cone                                             Limulid (horseshoe crab) deep undertracks



FIELD TRIPS: APS conducts monthly field trips to fossil localities in Alabama and surrounding states strictly with permission of landowners (please refer to our Ethical Statement for further details).  In accordance with our Statement of Purpose, we frequently make educational presentations to schools and public gatherings on subjects related to paleontology.   Field trip participation is generally limited to members but individuals interested in coming on a field trip as a guest with an eye towards membership should contact APS President Ashley Allen (alabamapaleo@gmail.com), Vice President Prescott Atkinson (patkinson@peds.uab.edu) or Field Trip Coordinator Milo Washington (themilum@yahoo.com).  We have also hosted classes ranging from upper elementary school grades to college geology groups and other groups with an interest in geology and paleontology on select field trips.


LINKS:

Interactive Photographic Index to the Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site (maintained by Dr. Ron Buta): a newly updated collection of photos from the Minkin site that are much easier to view:  bama.ua.edu/~rbuta/scm/scm.pl

Trace Fossils of the Crescent Valley Mine - a large collection of vertebrate tracks amassed by Dr. Ron Buta in his visits to this surface coal mine located very close to the underground coal mine which was the source of the vertebrate tracks described in the 1930 Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History by Aldrich and Jones:  http://kudzu.astr.ua.edu/cvm2/cvm-database2.htmlRECENTLY PUBLISHED!  Here is a link to a new paper by Dr Buta and collaborators on the CVM site with many beautiful photographs: http://kudzu.astr.ua.edu/cvmpaper/10-Buta-etal-Crescent-Valley-Mine.pdf.  The reference is:  Buta, R. J., Pashin, J. C., Minter, N. J., and Kopaska-Merkel, D. C. 2013, "Ichnology and Stratigraphy of the Crescent Valley Mine: Evidence for a Carboniferous Megatracksite in Walker County, Alabama," in The Carboniferous-Permian Transition, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, S. G. Lucas et al., eds., Vol. 60, pp. 42-56.

Downloadable Guide to the Minkin Footprint Site by Drs Ron Buta and David Kopaska-Merkel:  Minkin Guide - optimized Apr 6 2012.pdf

Minkin Track Site Monograph link:  This link contains PDF files for the multiauthor monograph on the tracks and plants from the Minkin Track Site including an extensive photographic atlas: http://bama.ua.edu/~rbuta/monograph/monofiles/monofiles.html

Alabama Museum of Natural History:  The AMNH sponsors a great program of family friendly weekend field trips throughout the year to various sites focusing on geology, paleontology, ecology and other areas.  The AMNH has an immense paleo research collection accumulated over the past 100 years (including what may be the largest mosasaur collection in the world) and is always looking for volunteers to help with cleaning and cataloguing specimens.  In addition, for the past 30 years the AMNH has conducted a several week-long summer Expedition, usually focused on archaeology or paleontology in which participants  camp in the field and work with experts to uncover the remote history of human activities in Alabama or the much more ancient fossil inhabitants of the State:        http://amnh.ua.edu/ .   This is the link for Dana Ehret’s collection of images from the collection:  http://djehret.wix.com/collections .  The site is under construction but will be adding images over the coming months.

McWane Science Center: In addition to its world class interactive exhibits on the other sciences and its eye-popping IMAX Theatre, the McWane Center has a spectacular fossil exhibit, with lifesize replicas of dinosaurs including several whose remains have been found in Alabama, as well as the actual fossil remains of other fossil creatures that once inhabited the State such as a virtually complete mosasaur (a giant marine Cretaceous lizard related to the Komodo dragon) and a giant ground sloth:  http://mcwane.org .  This is the link to McWane’s extensive new collection section with images of specimens in their collection:  http://www.mcwane.org/learn/the-mcwane-science-center-collection/.

Oceans of Kansas:  Mike Everhart’s spectacular website on the Cretaceous world, focusing on the western interior sea previously occupying present day Kansas, USA:  www.oceansofkansas.com

Winds of Kansas:   Roy Beckemeyer’s encyclopedic website on  recent and fossil insects, with particular emphasis on the Permian insect fauna of the Wellington Formation in Kansas and Oklahoma and numerous interesting links:  www.windsofkansas.com

In Memoriam:  Frank David Lueth November 5, 1940-July 7, 2007. For those of you who knew him, this youtube photographic tribute to David created by his daughter is a wonderful memory of one of our departed friends:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6euSPzoVLk

A society of amateur and professional paleontologists interested in the collection, interpretation, and dissemination of knowledge of fossils and the rich natural history of the State of Alabama.  


Membership is open to anyone who shares the interests of the Society.