Saturday, June 25, 2016

Alveolites sp. coral from the Martin formation of Arizona

One of the more unusual looking pieces I found in the Martin formation of Arizona was a piece that resembles Alveolites sp. It is a flat topped piece with an epitheca on the underside and what appears to be a vertical growth element so that, in profile, it looks a little like a mushroom. The corallite openings on the dorsal surface are the most telling. They appear to be laying on their side and shaped a little like a fish scale. This is a diagnostic feature of Alveolites which is what leads me to believe my piece is of the same genus. The genera is listed by Teichert in his paper and illustrated in Langland's article.

Dorsal surface
Dorsal surface tilted and a little closer to show the corallite openings.

This specimen is from the Jerome member of the Martin formation (Devonian, Fransian stage) north of Payson, AZ.

Teichert, C., 1965, "Devonian Rocks and Paleogeography of Central Arizona",  USGS Professional Paper 464

Langland, Jeffrey O. and Edith V., 2012, "Fauna of a 400-Million-Year-Old Coral Reef in
Arizona", Rocks and Minerals, 87:1, 40-44

Stumm, Erwin C., 1948, "Upper Devonian Compound Tetracorals from the Martin Limestone", Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 22:1, pp. 40-47


  1. Hey brother, I love your blog. Could you make a list sometime of the references you consult to make IDs? I became interested in paleontology and got my bachelor's in biology from the vertebrate side of things, but I don't even know where to begin to understand invertebrate fossils.

    I've collected a lot of fossils (and recorded where they were picked up, etc.) of invertebrates along Silurian-Devonian road cuts here in WV, but outside of phylum identification (crinozoans, brachiopods, gastropods, and so on), I am not sure how to further ID them. I am planning on putting together a nice photo set of everything and uploading a collection on Flickr or something similar. We also have a Mahantango exposure here but I've never found any fossils in it.

    1. Well, there are quote a few references that I've used over the years. I have tried, in recent blog entries, to list any relevant references that I used in each individual blog post but sometimes I can identify based on my familiarity with the fossils. Your best best for anything Silurian-Devonian would be to consult the Maryland Geological Survey guides that were published in the early 20th Century. Search Google books for "Maryland Devonian plates" and you should find some hits. I find it easier to use the actual books rather than .pdf files but they can be hard to find and expensive. Also look for "Maryland Silurian" as that volume is very helpful. Finally, Search for "Paleontology of New York" as those tomes have been used by everyone including the Maryland Geo. Survey books as references. There are eight volumes over thirteen books (some are part I, part II, etc.). It is hard to find all of them, but they are out there in various quality scans. Other sources which do not have many illustrations but have useful info are "Fossil Collecting in the Mid Atlantic States" by Jasper Burns (Should be able to find it in a bookstore or on Amazon, "Silurian system of West Virginia" (available only as a book and hard to find) and "Devonian Faunas in Pennsylvania" which can be downloaded from the DCNR website:

      I hope that helps you out some. I'd start with Jasper Burn's book and look at his bibliography to see what he references. It takes some work to find the references but it will be worth it in the long run.