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What Your Fossils Can Tell You: Vertebrate Morphology, Pathology, and Cultural Modification by Robert W. Sinibaldi

A practical and fun identification manual for amateurs and professionals alike

"Provides the beginning fossil vertebrate enthusiast with some valuable information about the fossils they are collecting."—Guy "Harley" Means, Florida Geological Survey

"Illustrates how the dynamic story of ancient life and death and post-mortem utilization is accessible from the study of bone shapes. It is this very thing that made me want to be a paleontologist in the first place."—Pennilyn Higgins, University of Rochester

Written primarily for the avid amateur and beginning paleontologist, What Your Fossils Can Tell You offers both experienced and novice fossil hunters and collectors the information needed to correctly identify and interpret the significance of their discoveries.

Professionals in the field may also use this book as a pictorial resource to assist them in bridging the fields of pathology and archaeology as they relate to paleontology. Amateur fossil hunters are presented with the tools they need to recognize significant finds and knowledge of how to collect vertebrate fossils responsibly and legally.

Robert Sinibaldi, in informal collaboration with a number of fossil experts, has compiled materials with a wide appeal. He explains many of the complex bumps, grooves, markings, and other anomalies that occur on fossil bones and teeth. A wealth of photographs helps readers visually identify these features and apply related concepts to their personal collections. Along with many common specimens, scores of unique fossil items appear here in print for the first time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813034256
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 04/04/2010
Pages: 369
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Robert W. Sinibaldi is a former president of the Tampa Bay Fossil Club and is currently a member of its board of directors. He is author of Fossil Diving: In Florida's Waters or any other Waters Containing Prehistoric Treasures and The Handbook of Paleontological Terms.

Table of Contents

List of Figures xi

Preface xxiii

1 Introduction 1

What Is a Vertebrate Fossil? 3

What Are Morphology, Pathology, Natural Alterations, and Cultural Modifications? 3

Why Study Morphology, Pathology, Natural Alterations, and Cultural Modifications? 4

Using This Pictorial Guide 5

Figures 5

Geological Time Scales 5

American Archaeological Time Scales 7

General Directional Terminology 7

Endnotes 7

2 The Morphology of Fossil Bones 9

Introduction 9

Types of Joints 11

Sutures 22

Growth Plates and Epiphyseals 23

Tendon and Ligament Attachment Scars and Processes 29

Bone Densities 36

Vision 40

Bones as Armor 44

Skin Attachment Scars 50

Markings Left by Nerves and Blood Vessels 53

Auditory Bones 57

The Braincase 60

3 The Morphology of Fossil Teeth 63

Introduction 63

General Mammalian Tooth Morphology 65

Herbivores 70

Carnivores 80

Omnivores 84

Special Cases of Mammalian Teeth 88

Age Determination/Stages of Development 97

Sexual Dimorphism 109

Shark Tooth Morphology 111

Reptile and Fish Teeth 124

4 Natural Alterations to Fossils 129

Introduction 129

Biological Alterations 130

Geological Alterations 136

Hydrological Alterations 143

Atmospheric Alterations 147

5 Pathologies in Fossil Bones 152

Introduction 152

Ankylosis and Syndactyly 154

Necrosis and Sequestrum 156

Osteitis 159

Bone Discontinuities 161

Arthritis 163

Osteoarthritis 165

Osteophytes, Spondylosis Deformans, Spondyloarthropathy, and Herniated Disks 171

Pathological Fractures 176

Pseudopathologies 182

Congenital Anomalies and Problematic Specimens 194

6 Pathologies in Fossil Teeth 201

Introduction 201

Dental Caries 202

Dental Abscess 208

Dental Hypoplasia 209

Periodontal Disease 210

Impacted Teeth 213

Unusual Wear Patterns, Extra Teeth, and Missing Teeth 216

Pathological Shark Teeth 219

Congenital Anomalies and Problematic Specimens 231

7 Cultural Modification of Bones, Antlers, and Teeth 239

Introduction 239

Unintentional Modifications 242

Intentional Modifications 248

Problematic Specimens 314

Glossary 325

Notes 339

Selected References 353

Acknowledgments 359

Index 363

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