Sunday slide 44

juvenile Eastern newt red eft Notophthalmus viridescens on fossil rock
Today’s slide comes from central New York back in… well, there’s no date stamp on the slide mount, but I want to say 2006 (because I like saying 2006. It just rolls off the tongue; try it. “Two thousand and six.” Doesn’t that just sound smooth? Stop looking at me like that.) Anyway, I was visiting family in the Finger Lakes region and my brother had taken me out to the head of a waterfall in the area, where the exposed rock flats from where the river had been much wider would reveal fossils in certain areas, if you knew what you were looking for. This particular patch was right on the surface, and we introduced a little newt that he had caught into the scene, a juvenile Eastern newt (often known as a red eft in this stage, scientific name Notophthalmus viridescens.) It wasn’t exactly a study in contrasts or anything like that, this tiny amphibian placed among dinosaur fossils, because that region only hosted fossils from waaayyyy before the dinosaurs or even any land animals at all, about 416 million years ago when the only terrestrial life was vegetation, and not much at that. Every fossil that could be found there were sea creatures, the most recognizable being trilobites; we tried, in vain, to extract a complete specimen from the strata unbroken, something that my brother had not yet accomplished by that point (or since, I don’t believe.) The images of that specimen may be along sometime later. However, we won’t be returning to this location, because it has since been closed off to public access, mostly due to the fact that the drop at the falls was ten or so meters and drunken teenagers had too frequently failed to maintain a safe distance from the lip. For that reason, I’m not naming the falls nor their location, since it’s all private property. It’s a shame, but there are plenty of other areas in the region to find fossils.

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