Sunday, February 10, 2008

Downright with Ammonites at the Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show 2008

The weekend affords us the opportunity to once again visit the on-going 2008 Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase. With 44 officially listed shows, each with from 40-100 dealers, it is quite difficult to see all the shows. In any case, our interest revolves around fossils and minerals and even with that, we've only seen a handful of shows the past two weeks.

Ammonites and ammolites are a growing interest for us. The color, diversity, and background make them an interesting focus of collection and study. Briefly, ammonites, now extinct, were marine animals of the subclass Ammonoidea, class Cephalopoda, phylum Mollusca. Present day relatives are most probably the octupus, squid, and cuttlefish, and unlikely the nautilus, which it somehow resembles. Geologists and paleontologists are fascinated with ammonites because they are excellent index fossils, meaning they are used to date the rock layers where they are found. Ammonites appeared 415 million years ago (mya) as Bacrites (small and straight) and became extinct about 67 mya along with the dinosaurs. Ammonites usually had coiled/ spiraled chambers connected by a tube called a siphuncle. they moved by jet propulsion of water. Plinus the Elder called them ammonis cornua ("horns of Ammon"), since the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun) was depicted with ram's horns. Ammonite sizes ranged from one inch to 4.5 feet in diameter.

Some of the most expensive ammonites for sale can be found at the Canada Fossils booth at the Inn Suites. I've seen their exquisite and pricey collection and am only beginning to explore their ecological footprint. Nonetheless, I have to admit their ammolites are indeed of gem-quality.

Check out the photos I took of various ammonites and ammolites from dealers at the Tucson Electric Park, Inn Suites, and Ramada Inn Shows, all in Tucson, Arizona.

Nature art in one of its best.

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