Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fossils and Blog Stats

For what ever reason I never checked or noticed that this blog software allows me to look at the statistics regarding those who visit the blog. I have the blog only because I love taking pictures and doing research -- both of which I can share. Plus the blog is free so it doesn't cost me anything but my time. I have had a lot of comments about the blog so I knew that people were checking it out. Lately the comments have increased, which is why I decided to see if there were statistics. I was also curious about who visits the blog because it allows me to reach out to others from the isolated town of Grand Marais.

I have had the blog since 2009, but the software only has the stats since May of 2010. During the last 321 days, there have been 18,965 people visit the blog. That is an average of 59 a day. However, last month there were 3,637 blog visits for a daily average of 130 visits. Today there have already been 144 visits.

The stats also allow me to see what countries the visitors are from. I was surprised at the number of countries my blog visitors are from including: USA, Canada, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Philippines, South Korea, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Turkey. Over 88% of the visitors have a Windows-based computer, while only 11% have a Mac. The number of posts has increased, which has probably caused the visits to increase. In 2009 I only had 64 posts, in 2010 177 posts, and so far this year I have already had 40 posts. Considering that I was gone on the out-west trip for 25 days, I have only missed ten days while I've been home. Most of the time when I miss posting a blog update, it is because I don't have any new photos.

As I reported yesterday, I went over to the school to teach the elementary kids about fossils. Today I decided to play with the macro lens on my new camera -- something which I have not done much. I was pleased with the results.

As you all know, fossils are remains or imprints of plants or animals that have been preserved by nature. It was not until 1800 that fossils were recognized to be the remains of living things. Fossils help us to understand how the earth and its inhabitants have changed over time. Since life evolved on our planet, 99.9% of all types of animals have become extinct. Fossils are the only way we can research what existed in prehistoric times.

The first picture is of a brachiopod. These are a group of ocean animals that have a hard two-part shell. They evolved 526 million years ago, and still exist today in the form of clams, etc. These well-adapted organisms live between 3 and 30 years and can grow as large as eight inches across.

Trilobites were also ocean dwellers and evolved 526 million years ago. They were not as adaptive as brachiopods so the trilobites became extinct 250 million years ago. For the 276 million years that they existed, they were the most successful animals that have ever existed on earth. They completely dominated their ecosystems and varied in size from .04 inches to almost 30 inches in length. The first picture below is a trilobite found in the bluff along the lakeshore in Grand Marais. The second is an artist's representation of what they must have looked like as they crawled on the ocean floor millions of years ago.

The next fossil is an Orthocerous from Morocco. These ocean-living animals had a straight body. They evolved 488 million years ago, but became extinct 200 million years ago. Modern octopus and squid are related to this extinct group of animals. The second picture below is an artist's representation of what Orthocerous may have looked like.

Closely related to the Orthocerous were Ammonites. These organisms had a coiled shell similar to the modern Nautilus, but they were also cephlapods like the modern octopus. Ammonites evolved 400 million years ago and survived for a long time only to become extinct 65.5 million years ago. Some ammonites were huge -- fossils have been found that are more than six feet in diameter!

The next fossil is Michigan's state stone -- Petoskey stone. This is a type of fossilized coral unique to Michigan. They lived 350 million years ago when much of Michigan was a shallow ocean.

The next fossil is part of a saber tooth cat's tooth. We grew up calling these animals "saber tooth tigers." However, they were not tigers, but were in the cat family. They evolved 42 million years ago and existed until 11,000 years ago. They grew to be five feet long, three feet high, and 440 pounds!

A few years ago this megladon shark tooth was donated to the museum. These sharks evolved 25 million years ago, but became extinct 1.5 million years ago. They grew to over 52 feet in length and had almost 300 flesh-ripping teeth arranged into five rows. In the second photo below, the top two images are male and female megladons, the next is a modern whale shark, and the bottom image is a modern great white shark.

In the Grand Marais area we have had two periods when there were salt water oceans. We can find fossils on our beach as proof. Further proof was supplied by Bruce Erickson who donated the fossil below to the museum several years ago. He found it along the bank of the Sucker River while fishing.

During one of my Arizona trips I was hiking a ridge located half way between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. First I found the coral fossil below.

Around ten feet away I then found this round fossil. I had it for a few years before curiosity got the best of me. I scored the surface and then as carefully as possible cracked it open. I am an agate person, not a fossil expert so I'm not sure exactly what this fossil is. The kids like to think that it is a dinosaur egg. Since it was found with marine fossils, it is probably some type of ocean living organism.

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