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Well, after months of relentless drought, the summer and fall of 2006 will probably be remembered as enchanted. With the above normal rainfall and cooler temperatures, the scorched desert vegetation has turned from a dull brown to a lovely shade of green, and wildflowers are blooming everywhere you turn.

We decided to take one more trip to the outcrops of Mural Limestone we visited last August to look for Rudist Bivalves. Rudists were a type of clam that had its heyday during the late Mesozoic, morphing into many unusual shapes and symmetries and occupying many niches now filled by other Mollusks and Corals. Some Rudists were straight and conical shaped and look like Paleozoic Rugose Corals, while some were coiled similar to a Gastropod with one the valves serving as a closeable lid. The Rudists all disappeared at the Cretaceous Tertiary boundary as did the Dinosaurs, Ammonites, and many other Mesozoic critters. In the early Cretaceous; however, Rudists were abundant and may have displaced the Cnidarians (Corals) as the major reef builders of the time.

We were not disappointed on this trip as we found several new outcrops that appear to have been reefs of Rudist colonies. Unfortunately the Mural in this area is a very resilient Limestone, and most silicified fossils weather down even with the matrix leaving only an outline of the organism. We did manage to find a couple of nicely preserved three-dimensional fossils however.

On the same trip, we stopped to have a look at some Pennsylvanian Horquilla Limestone outcrops in the Canelo Hills. We found a typical assemblage of Mid Paleozoic fauna including a couple of nice Bryozoans and Brachiopods.

On our Wildlife Pages, we added a nice photo of a few deer we encountered in the Parker Canyon Lake area, as well as a quail and an Orb Web spider having a dragonfly for lunch. We added another Transition as well, this one titled Mount Lemmon Summer to Fall.

You can see all of these images and more on our Updates page.

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Have a great day!
The Southern Arizona Fossils Team.

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