"One of the planet's best deposits of prehistoric fossils is getting trashed, and no one seems to care but a small group of fanatical collectors."
By Mike Sula @MikeSula
In the spring of last year Tom Testa made the painful decision to sell off a piece of his legacy--a 300-million-year-old fossilized chiton called Glaphurochiton concinnus, an oblong mollusk whose modern relatives graze on algae that cling to wave-swept rocky shores. Back then, in the middle Pennsylvanian period, Testa's chiton crept along the muddy floor of a shallow inland sea whose long northern coastline arced through what is now Kankakee, Will, and Grundy counties, about 50 miles southwest of the Loop.
Testa has several dozen chitons in his enormous fossil collection, most plucked from piles of discarded shale at a former strip mine near Braidwood. The mine was called Pit 11, and it's the most important of a group of fossil sites in the area, collectively known as Mazon Creek after the tributary of the Illinois River where the fossils were first discovered in the mid-19th century. Mazon Creek fossils are unique. They're well preserved and unusually diverse, and many have few relatives in the world fossil record. There are mollusks, plants, arthropods, fish, amphibians, and lots of weird soft-bodied invertebrates, which are especially important because the fragile creatures had no hard parts and therefore didn't fossilize easily.
More than 300 animal species and 200 plants have been identified from the Mazon Creek area, evidence that in the Pennsylvanian period northeastern Illinois teemed with life. Mazon Creek is known as....Finish reading the article HERE
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