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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 07:15 AM
Original message
Hinges of History



A while back, I had posted a thread that included information on some fossils that my friends and I were finding on a site in rural, upstate New York. These are fossils know as a type of cladoxylopsid tree, the Eospermatopteris textillis, to the scientists who studied them. They are from what is known as the middle to late Devonian period of the Paleozoic era.

Being an uneducated by-product of the rural, upstate culture, I find it easier to call them "tree-ferns" (or "fern-trees"), and marvel at the very thought that they are the fossil record of the earliest known forests on earth, dating some 380 million years old. It is believed that these early plants helped bring about changes that allowed for animals life to flourish in land later. Dinosaurs, for example, began to walk this earth 170 million years later.

In 2003, Dr. Linda VanAller Hernick of the NYS Museum published a wonderful book, "The Gilboa Fossils." On the back cover, it reads, "The Devonian Period was an interval of dramatic change in the history of life on Earth. Much of the evidence for what is known about terrestrial life during the period on North America has come from some extraordinary fossil discoveries made in Gilboa, New York, over the past 150 years. The abundance and often superb preservation of fossils from Gilboa made the area one of the most important Devoian localities in the world!"

In April, 2007, Linda and Dr. William Stein (SUNY-Binghamton) and friends published an outstanding article in the prestigious English scientific journal "Nature" (Volume 446; pages 904-907). It is titled "Giant cladoxylopsid trees resolve the enigma of the earths earliest forest stumps at Gilboa."

I had first become aware of the local tree-fern fossils in the early 1980s, when I was working on a near-by archaeological site from the Revolutionary War era. One "layer" of history there involved a group of escaped slaves who were connected with Mohawk leader Joseph Brant. After the war, the first of three mills was built on the creek where the fossils are found; the above photograph is of the third mill, though the stonework you see was done in 1820, for the second mill.

After the Civil War, a railroad crossed the creek below the mill. The photo below shows the trestle. This photo was taken in 1907, and shows the reinforced trestle that spans the creek. Two years later, Winifred Goldring graduated from Wellesley College; a decade later, she came to this area to look for fossils of the tree-ferns that fascinated her.

Dr. Goldring, of the NYS Museum, was one of the great scientists of her era. It was before women were recognized as being equals in the field. You can bet that my young daughters know all about her. They have found some of the most interesting fossils at the falls.

In 2006, there was a severe flood in our area. It changed the landscape. One of the results was that we were able to find other fossils. This summer, we took photos, and made a map of where we had found more than 50 fossils and pieces of fossils uncovered by the flood. We sent the information to Dr. Hernick and Dr. Stein, and invited them to visit the site.

A few DUers had expressed some interest in this topic when I first posted the information this summer. I am going to put together a few posts on this thread, to tell about the up-dated information that I have. I think it is of interest not only because of fossils, but the way it connects with human history in this isolated corner of the world. I also think it fits with the idea that as we continue to be involved in the political and social issues around us, we can benefit from taking time for ourselves, to engage in activities that are fun.

I hope that some of you enjoy this thread.


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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 07:25 AM
Response to Original message
1. Becoming Unhinged ....


On Tuesday, June 27, 2006, it started to rain. And it continued for several days. There had already been 11 inches of rain in June, and the water table couldn't hold the additional water. The floods caused severa damage to the communities from Oneonta to Binghamton, NY, and the outlying areas.

The Oneonta newspaper (The Daily Star) has produced a book and a DVD, "Flood 2006: Disaster in the Heartland of New York," that tell about the death and destruction related to the flood.

My sons and I took some pictures. We couldn't travel far, because roads were closed, and the bridge on the highway below the creek had washed out.

The above photo shows the water at the falls, with the old stone wall from the mill to the right. Below is a photo from the same spot a year later.

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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 07:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. The Railroad abutment:


In the top photo, you can see two concrete railroad abutments. If you note the size of the people next to the one in the middle, you get a feel for their size.

Note that the one on the left has a top tier, missing from the abutment in the middle. The flood washed the one off, and it was deposited near the boulder above the man in the red jacket. See next photo:

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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 07:38 AM
Response to Original message
3. Thursday, June 13, 2007


This week, we had the pleasure of having Dr. Stein visit the site, and we walked a section of the creek that was about a third of a mile. He noted that this is the furthest west that he is aware of the fossil tree-ferns being found. While all of the now more than 100 fossils/pieces of fossil that we have mapped are of interest, a couple are potentially very important.



The second photo here is of another waterfalls, about 1/4 mile above the first, where we found more fossils. The elevation of the site is significant. I think it is also an interesting example of how common folk at a local level can coordinate with the people recognized as the top in their field.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 07:42 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Two more photos:
I posted these before, but they show the tree-fern fossils ...




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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. Great pix
We won't see these in the creationists' museum :D
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. In that general tone,
I can say that it has led to numerous, "but-but-but the earth is only 6000 years old" jokes, which I'm sure my friends are tiring of.
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 10:13 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. It is tiring
when ignorance and the denial of facts are given airplay.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 02:26 PM
Response to Reply #4
19. I Have To Say Given Their Age, They've Held Up Pretty Well
Imagine if they could speak, in words.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. Most have been
well covered, hidden between layers of rock, until very recently. Once exposed, they can wear away relatively fast. The current can carry them downstream, causing damage. Others are subjected to the effects of water getting in cracks, and freezing during the winter months.
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Annces Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
5. This looks good
Will read it later.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 09:28 AM
Response to Original message
6. It Knocks Me Out Every Time You Say
"the earliest known forests on earth" and makes everything going on today seem rather small
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #6
23. Yep.
The earth was very different then. What we think of as "North America" was not what we have today.
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Annces Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 09:53 AM
Response to Original message
7. Mother Nature will always take over
That is an interesting area to live in.

I remember in an art class I had, I ended up painting a tree that had fallen over onto some boulders, and the teacher said it looked depressing. Another student painted a footpath being overgrown by nature. I thought we were both keying into the same theme.
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shadowknows69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
9. H20 Man
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AwakeAtLast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 10:10 AM
Response to Original message
11. Great post H2O Man!
I am fortunate that the area in which I grew up is still virtually untouched. We have a great creek with a big shale bluff that is hidden away and absoulutely gorgeous. Your pics remind be of that place.

There are so many places tucked away like these - let's hope they remain that way!

:hi:
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warren pease Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
13. Beautiful pix, thank you.
And thanks also for the captions and narrative. I've never been to upstate New York but I'm hoping to make it to the Hall at Cooperstown soon and these creeks and old mill towns look well worth a side trip.

Plus, a couple of minutes on google maps and I learn Broome and Otsego counties are just about next door. Sounds like a great way to spend a week.

Btw, how's the fall weather, say around early November?


wp
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. There weather
in November can be beautiful. Of course, I am subjective, because I think upstate NY is the greatest place on earth.

Cooperstown is a nice community. The BHoF is fantastic (years ago I boxed at Doubleday Field, with Dave Zyglewicz as referee; he fought Joe Frazier for the title on 4-22-69, to give an idea how long ago that was). I also love the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown. The Clarke family used to run the Woodland Museum just outside Cooperstown, though I think it closed about 35 years ago.
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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
14. beautiful photos H2O Man-thanks for sharing. rec'd
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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 12:08 PM
Response to Original message
16. Thank you
for this most refreshing thread. Balm for the soul on a Saturday morning.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
17. Some links you may enjoy
I went to find a map so readers would have an idea where Gilboa is.



And in the process came across some neat images and links.


Fossilised tree mystery solved



http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/articles/fossilised-tree-...


Newfound Fossils Reveal Secrets of World's Oldest Forest



http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/04/070418-...

also
http://www.livescience.com/environment/070418_first_tre...

and
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/evolution/mg19...


There are some Gilboa fossil images linked from this page...

http://geology.cwru.edu/~huwig/catalog/historical.html


Thanks WaterMan

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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 02:39 PM
Response to Reply #17
20. Thank you
for posting those links.
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
18. Again with the Awesome, K & R Bleever is right, balm for the soul. Thank you! nt
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spuddonna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-15-07 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
21. Absolutely fascinating!
Awesome photos, and really wonderful info! That's just so amazing that Dr. Stein was there with you to look at the fossils...

And I'd forgotten how beautiful the area is - I miss New York! :(
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DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-16-07 09:11 AM
Response to Original message
24. Very interesting
I love loooking at old photos
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