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Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify?

  1. Jun 23, 2012 #1
    Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Hi, I found this fossil a few miles down the road in some pits. It has fossils on one side, and when cracked in to it has all what I can presume is wood. It feels like wood, and is very smooth and can break off in flakes. You can see in the pictures I have posted with this. Wondering what it is, how old and what should I do with it. I Know you can get fossilised wood, but this doesn't seem fossilised, even though it was within a case of fossils...
     

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  3. Jun 23, 2012 #2

    davenn

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Hi Ryan
    welcome to PF :)

    for fossilised wood we normally use the term Petrified Wood
    thats a very nice sample ... nice find
    as far as age goes, we would need to know where it came from what layer of rock from that location.
    ie. we would need to know the specific geology of where it was located
    I would suggest you go to a local university and tell them exactly where you found it, they would probably then be easily able to date it. Just as I could for samples from areas around my own home country of New Zealand. ( I say home country, as its not where I live now)

    cheers
    Dave
     
  4. Jun 23, 2012 #3

    davenn

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Ohhh something else I forgot to mention.....

    see in your sample, there's stripes of a milky white rock ?
    thats most likely to be agate... a form of Quartz, and its often found in fossil material, both plant and animal. Sometimes it can totally replace the original material

    cheers
    Dave
     
  5. Jun 23, 2012 #4
    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Thanks Dave
    Is petrified wood meant to be flakey and still act/feel like wood. I thought it'd be like stone? Like fossil.
     
  6. Jun 23, 2012 #5

    davenn

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    if its truely petrified it will be rock, the rock will flake ( cleave) along the original wood grain lines. but there will be no softness etc like you would find with "living" wood

    from what I can see from photos of your sample it looks like its totally rocky. the wood grain is often well preserved
    and so are the rings at times if on a sizeable sample it can be cut across the grain.

    where are you from ... what country and where in that country ? .... dont want your street addy haha
    just region/close town city

    Dave
     
  7. Jun 23, 2012 #6
    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Just confusing for me hah. You can snap a piece off at crumble it like soil.
     
  8. Jun 23, 2012 #7

    davenn

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    well you can snap and crumble rock ... how easy that is, really depends on its composition, moisture content etc. I have some fossils in my collection that are extremely fragile. They have to be handled with lots of care.

    Anyway, IF you live in the USA, you really need to visit the "Petrified Forest" in Arizona, one day .... its an awesome placeand more petrified wood that you will see almost anywhere else. Here's a pic of my wife and I beside some petrified logs in Arizona ....

    attachment.php?attachmentid=48551&stc=1&d=1340457233.jpg

    cheers
    Dave
     

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  9. Jun 23, 2012 #8
    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    That's pretty incredible ha! I'm impressed with that. Wish I could visit that. But alas, I'm in England
     
  10. Jun 23, 2012 #9

    davenn

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    well, you never know, save up some funds ;) on that particular trip to the USA we were there for 5 weeks stormchasing and other activities, some geology related.

    HEY England is closer to the USA than Australia!! you have no excuse haha ;)

    you seen to have a good interest in geology etc .... and if you havent already, start up a good rock, mineral and fossil collection.

    cheers
    Dave
     
  11. Jun 25, 2012 #10

    Bobbywhy

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    I propose re-looking at the OP. The wood-like material "feels like wood" means to me that it is NOT fossilized wood. If it was, it would not feel like wood. I hazard a guess that this is a piece of fulgurite, formed by a lightning strike. The kiloamperes flow through the soil and melt minerals rapidly. I have seen wood trapped in fulgurites in Brasil.
     
  12. Jun 25, 2012 #11

    davenn

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    dunno bobby

    Im taking the comments as from some one without much experience in such things....
    well Ryan hasnt said that he's experienced in geology. I would be really suprised to find
    the obvious agate bands through a fulgurite. But as I said earlier they are very common in petrified wood.
    Without seeing the sample first hand, the only other thing he can do is, as I suggested earlier and take it to a local university geology dept for identification

    Dave
     
  13. Jun 26, 2012 #12
    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Some speculation is presented here just based on what you said about the flakes. More reliable analysis would require more background information. For instance, it would be nice to know what type of pits you are referring to.
    There are many fossils that retain much of the original material and structure of the original organism. Sometimes, minerals get added to the remains of the organism but the original material isn't gone. Furthermore, sometimes the petrification of the remains is so complete that the structure remains even though all the organic material is gone. Ligonization is one way to preserve the form of an organism without replacement of material.
    Maybe it is a plant that was ligonized. Ligonization is when the organic material has been reduced to charcoal-like remains. The organic material is usually reduced to charcoal by heat. The heat could be from a surface fire or geothermal heat from deep within the earth. I prefer the word "ligonized" to "carbonized", since coal and charcoal are much more complicated than pure carbon in any form.
    If the plant was reduced to charcoal by whatever means, it would retain much of the structure though it would be more brittle. Maybe that is why it flakes so easily.
    The plant could be a recent plant that was burned in the pit. On the other hand, it could be a prehistoric plant that could be considered a true fossil.
    The best way to preserve ligonized plants are by immersion in alcohol. One you uncover a plant reduced to charcoal, the air is bound to degrade it.
    Consider the possibility that it isn't a plant. The fossil that you found could be the fossil remains of an animal.
    I have collected paleozoic brachiopod fossils that flake exactly the way you are describing. Brachiopods (example: lamp shells) are animals with shells that superficially resemble the shells of bivalve mollusks (i.e., clams and oysters). However, the structure of brachiopod shells are rather flaky.
    The picture that you showed doesn't look like a brachiopod. However, corals very often look like plants. There are marine animals that may look like that.
    One of the pictures that you showed looks like a bryozoan colony. That is an animal whose colonies resemble coral colonies, but whose form is more like a brachiopod.
    Again, fossils do not always consist of material that has replaced the organic material. Sometimes, the organic material persists in "cooked" form.
     
  14. Jun 26, 2012 #13
    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Couldn't it be ligonized wood?
     
  15. Jun 26, 2012 #14

    Evo

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    I have been wondering about very similar bars in fossils that predate the existence of trees. The rocks they are in were once a seabed. I'll try to get pictures tomorrow and see if anyone can tell me what they are.
     
  16. Jun 27, 2012 #15

    Dotini

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    In the "channeled scab land" of Eastern Washington, USA, I have visited petrified wood exhibits in state parks where part of the wood is petrified, and part of the wood remains woody. These curiosities were evidently created about 18,000 years ago in the Ice Age floods following the collapse of Glacial Lake Missoula.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Steve
     
  17. Jun 27, 2012 #16
    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Interesting, I've not come across publications yet that register, describe the mineralization process in terms of temperature and conditions versus time. I have seen a vertebra of a Narwhal, still totally bone, found in the arctic, that was beyond carbon dating (>50,000 years), but assumed to be from the last interglacial, some 120,000 years ago.

    Also, we have three quaternary fauna's in the North Sea here, the youngest is early Holocene, some 10,000- 7000 years ago, with no mineralisation, then an end Pleistocene fauna, carbon dated some 30-40,000 years ago, with some specimens partially mineralized and then a early to mid pleistocene fauna, estimated between 0.7 and 2 million years ago, all fully mineralized/petrified.
     
  18. Jun 27, 2012 #17
    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    I will bet that what you found is the marine fossil of an animal. I don't think it is wood of any kind. It could still be wood, of course. However, the superficial appearance and feel of the fossil is not definitive.
    Marine fossils are far more common than terrestrial fossils. There are processes that could make an animal fossil "feel" like wood.
    Chiton, the substance that makes up the shells of arthropods, is chemically similar to wood. Bones can have growth rings.
    At present, I have a "Mesozoic fossil" that I can't identify. Sometimes I look at it, and it looks like the neural arch of a vertebrae. Sometimes I look at it, and it is petrified wood. Sometimes I look at it, and it is a piece of hard rubber from a tire.
    I am going to have it looked at by a professional paleontologist in the area. However, I am going to collect all relevant information before I show the "fossil" to him. I will tell him precisely where I found it, when I found it, how I found it, and what other fossils that I have collected in the area. I don't want an uniformed opinion, even from an "expert".
    In paleontology, context is everything.
     
  19. Jun 27, 2012 #18
    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    One of your fossils could be from a prehistoric horsetail stem. A horsetail is a type of vascular plant that lives in marshes. There are some extant horsetail species. However, there are extinct horsetail species that preceded the dinosaurs.
    If those pits of yours are coal mines, then I propose that one of your fossils is from a Carboniferous horsetail. If this is so, then fossil is most probably ligonized. It is not petrified wood, it is carbonized wood.
    Here is an link to an illustration of such a fossil.
    http://www.cpbr.gov.au/PLNTKING/plant002.htm
     
  20. Jun 27, 2012 #19

    Dotini

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    Re: Found a fossil. It's like wood - help identify!?

    Andre, thanks for your remarks. Much appreciated.

    Last summer I climbed up some cliffs above Blue Lake and climbed into a pocket in the rock formed by a baby rhinocerous, no kidding!
    http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=9409 <--This link gives the time at 15 million years ago, but that may be from uniformitarian researches.

    I have to amend my original statement with respect to the 18,000 figure for formation of the petrified wood.

    Formed then? No.
    Exposed then, yes.
    The formation time was more likely with the lava flows which preceded the Lake Missoula flooding.

    My hiking partner tells me many of the flows are sedimentary deposits of various types, from gravels to sandstones to clays. In every type of interlayered deposit are found petrified woods, which must have been in some way water borne to their current site. The combination of that water with the abundant silica from hot lava flowing over providing the necessary concentration or possibly saturation of silica required for the petrifaction process, he says. The petrifaction details my hiking partner collected nearby included cellular structures showing petrifaction that he said must happen quickly when the conditions are right. The Missoula floods exposed petrified woods at many levels as well as unpetrified woods at a level several flows below the one we strolled around. My friend obviously thinks the lava flows could have been much more recent, about which I don't know.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Steve
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  21. Oct 4, 2012 #20

    Evo

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