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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Japanese Fossils

You might think this blog is about Japan's politicians - who all seem to be ancient old codgers - but, no... this blog is about things that lived millions of years ago... no, not those type of fossils... I already said that.   

I keep on forgetting to add one particular photo here to the left whenever I talk about fossils in Japan. I would imagine that most of us when we think about fossils tend to only think about Tyrannosaurus Rex or Triceratops or massive creatures of that ilk. Rarely do we think about such critters as mollusks or the tiny dinosaurs... which is what the majority of my own personal collection consists of.

But... if you glance to the above, you can see a fossil of a leaf - what the dinosaurs might have eaten... It's not overly sexy or cool like say a coprolite (dinosaur poop), or a petrified tree, but the damn thing is still 10s of millions years old and is an important way for scientists looking to determine either what dinosaurs ate or how insects survived or simply just what our planet looked liked so very long ago.

Here's a neat story on why the study of fossilized leaves is so important: GOLEAFSGO!

And, for your reading pleasure is the blog I wrote not too long ago on Japan's dinosaurs, with a photo showing off my small collection of fossils. DINOSAURS Of JAPAN.

And, what the heck... here's that photo again to the right and below. Every fossil but one is from Japan, and was purchased by myself or dug by myself while I was there.

The large orange rock contains two trilobite fossils; right of that is a small ball that is a mollusk, then a pair of dinosoaur eggshell fragments (orange colour); the spine and ribs of a small chicken-sized dinosaur from Argentina that a Japanese teacher gave me, and in the shadow box that my wife had done for me, it contains from the left, an ammonite mollusk, a type of small bi-valve mollusk, and a pair of snail-like sea shells.

So - what is my leaf fossil? I have no idea. A small bit of research says it MIGHT be similar to the Ulmus pyramidalis that was growing in the Miocene era - but it's from the current Czech Republic.... so probably not.

It might actually be a Prunus sargenti, a North Japan Hill Cherry leaf... or at least something similar to a cherry tree leaf... as that particular plant does (still) grow in the Tochigi-ken area and can be seen all over the mountainous Nasushiobara - about 10 kilometers from Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan when I lived there in the early 1990s as the junior high school assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

Here's a link to a store that sells plant fossils in Japan. SHOP. I actually dug mine up, however, during a two-hour dig.

Again... if anyone has the resources, I would appreciate a heads up on just what the heck my partial leaf fossil is.

I also have a lot of detritus leaf fossils... but it's just plant life that was on the way to decomposition when fossilization hit it faster.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

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