The Tastings Site
Pittsford, New York
Samuel J. Ciurca, Jr.
Rochester, New York
|The New Year's 2007 Eurypterid
Continued research with material from the Tastings Site yielded a very nice specimen of the
eurypterid, Eurypterus pittsfordensis (undoubtedly from the upper mudcracked mudstone of
the Pittsford Member). Eurypterus is mostly well-known from the rocks of the Bertie Group,
but makes its first appearance in numbers within the Pittsford Member of the Vernon Fm.
(Salina Group) in upstate New York. Rare remains have been reported from the underlying
uppermost Lockport Group (dolostones). The specimen shown below was collected on
January 1, 2007 (CIURCA 010107-1). Portions of the specimen are covered by matrix.
Exposed portion of specimen above is 7 cm. long.
January 3, 2007 was a great day for looking for eurypterids. It
was a balmy 50 degrees in the Rochester area. During 3 hours
of work (2 people), about 20 specimens were collected - three
are shown below:
ABOVE: Like the teeth of some great shark, these really belong
to a carnivorous eurypterid. This portion of a coxa, with the teeth
preserved, probably survived transport due to its more resistant
nature. CIURCA 010307-2.
RIGHT: The telson of Hughmilleria
socialis preserved essentially un-
crushed. Telsons and coxae, as
isolated structures, are commonly
preserved in the shale/mudstone
of the Vernon Formation wherever
eurypterid horizons are found. Note
the fine needlelike termination of
the telson shown here.
LEFT: A pelecypod (clam) that is
relatively common, especially in
the more dolomitic portion of the
Pittsford Member. Sometimes they
are found in clusters as is the
brachiopod, Lingula sp. Many fine
examples of these types of fossils
are now in the collections of the
Peabody Museum of Natural
LEFT: Two photos of a specimen
(CIURCA 011207-1) showing the
remains of phyllocarid mandibles
next to carapaces of Hughmilleria
socialis and abundant ostracods.
Phyllocarid remains are encoun-
tered only occassionally, but are
an important element in most
eurypterid faunas of the Salina
and Bertie Groups of New York.
Generally, it is the resistant parts
that are preserved, like the
telsons and mandibles. Nicely
preserved carapaces have been
found previously (e.g. Spring
House Commons Site), some
being very large.
Ceratiocaris is one of the best
known of the phyllocarids, an
example from the Bertie Group
can be seen on my other web-
LEFT: Another pterygotid ramus
with nicely preserved teeth. There
may be 3 different pterygotids
present within the Pittsford Fauna,
these are currently the subject of
much research. Every specimen
uncovered tells us a little more
about the significance of these
carnivores of the Late Silurian.
Note large central tooth..
W = F x D or WORK EQUALS FORCE TIMES DISTANCE
I remember the above statement from my high school Physics course at Edison Tech in Rochester, New York. And when you collect
fossils, you quickly learn (feel) what this formula means. In rare cases, you can back up your car and with two people, place the
specimen in your trunk - as shown in the photo below. It was a cold October day and my assistant (Jose Berrios) and I loaded this slab
of black shale with eurypterid specimens (the black blotches in the photo) into the auto. This technique worked for several months until
all of the black shale at the site decomposed into the rubble seen in the foreground. We had been locating and splitting blocks of black
shale for hours and found numerous carapaces and parts of Hughmilleria socialis and Eurypterus pittsfordensis, including the large
slab shown here. (this note added November 25, 2007).
RIGHT: Jose digging out blocks
of shale for splitting. Each time it
rains, any exposed black shale
quickly decomposes. Even sweat
(on the specimen) is not good.
The shale should never be wet
even during cleaning - not once.