|There is more to finding a new fossil. You have to give it a name. Fossils can be named after people, places or things. In the case of the fossils discovered at Pittsford in New York, Clifton Sarle named one fossil after a person and one after a geographic locality.
Eurypterus pittfordensis is named after the town where he found the fossils--Pittsford, New York. The genus, Eurypterus, had already been described--indeed it was the first eurypterid genus described.
The most common element of the eurypterid fauna of the Pittsford Black Shale is Hughmilleria socialis Sarle. Sarle created the new genus, Hughmilleria, because no other eurypterid seemed to be similar to those already known. Hugh Miller is a famous Scottish geologist, and while Sarle was studying his eurypterids, he realized that it was the 100th anniversary of this geologist--he named the new eurypterid Hughmilleria after this geologist by combining his name and latinizing it. I can only guess that Sarle named the species , "socialis," because the fossils appeared to be crowed together on certain bedding planes within the black shale. This may have been a mass-killing, but I believe the occurrence here is due to mass-transportation into the area by a great storm. Such a deposit is termed a TEMPESTITE.
|HUGH MILLER (1802-1856)
(Gazetteer for Scotland - Website)
|WHAT'S IN A NAME? The original genus, "Eurypterus," was concocted by DeKay in xxxx. The word is a combo, meaning "broad wings." When the first fossil was discovered, in 1818, it was thought to be the remains of a catfish. Soon, however, DeKay realized the arthropod nature of the fossil and he named the very first eurypterid fossil ever found, Eurypterus remipes DeKay. When Clifton Sarle reported his discovery of the Pittsford fossils, one of them was an Eurypterus, only a little different in size and proportion from the Eurypterus remipes. So Sarle named this new fossil after the Town of Pittsford where he found the fossils: Eurypterus pittsfordensis (he had to latinize 'Pittsford' to follow the rules of nomenclature.|
| Hugh Miller is a famous Scottish geologist. He was, essentially,selftaught, and his experience was quite influenced by his religious upbringing, but he was still in search of the truth as revealed by his extensive field research and what the study of the rock record revealed to him. This led to the publication of several books. Among them were:
The Old Red Sandstone
Footprints of the Creator
The Testimony of the Rocks
Just before the publication of his last work, The Testimony of the Rocks, he
committed suicide--shooting himself in the chest. Apparently, he had had a troubling problem with nightmares and could no longer deal with this condition.
|What's In A Name?|
| Hugh Miller (1802-1856)
Illustratiions from a reliable source
Steve Pavelsky of St. Louis, Missouri
|WHAT IS THE STATE FOSSIL OF NEW YORK?|
|Many states have "state fossils." Do you know what the state fossil of New York is? CLUES: it's not the trilobite and it's not the eurypterid and it's not the Buffalo area's Eurypterus lacustris, though many locals seem to believe this. Because the very first eurypterid ever described was discovered in New York, the legislature, in 1984, said that Eurypterus remipes is our state fossil. While this was first known from the rocks of eastern New York, it is now known to occur across New York State from Deck in the east, westward to Buffalo and into the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario, Canada.|
|The photo at the right, taken by the author, is of a specimen found at Passage Gulf near Spinnerville, New Yorlk. I collected this specimen of Eurypterus remipes, the real State Fossil, over 20 years ago. It is currently in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. The horizon is the Phelps Waterlime Member of the Fiddlers Green Formation, Bertie Group (Late Silurian in age). Waterlimes are characteristic of the Late Silurian evaporite sequences in New York and adjacent areas. They are very fine-grained dolostones usually exhibiting conchoidal fracture (see photo the the right). Note: Eurypterus remipes is much younger (perhaps by 5 million years) than the Eurypterus pittsfordensis described previously from the Pittsford (Black Shale) Member of the Vernon Formation.|
|Eurypterus remipes DeKay
Late Silurian Bertie Group
(Phelps Waterlime, Fiddlers Green Formation near Spinnerville, N. Y.)
|"Prehistoric Pittsford" Please go to our Home Page and start your journey "Prehistoric Pittsford" Eurypterids Eurypterid Structure Pittsford Fossils
Erie Canal 1 Erie Canal 2 Erie Canal 3 Ice Age Pittsford Pittsford Geology
|The Hugh Miller 2002 Web Site
BICENTENARY OF HIS BIRTH
Check out this new website, celebrating a famous Scottish geologiost. Lots of Information.
|News Item (July 7, 2001
"Hugh Miller's Old Fish Story"
by Deborah Painter
Fossil News p. 4-7 Vol. 7 No. 7 2001