2" Strange Fossil (Escumasia) Nodule - Mazon Creek

This is a "problematic" specimen of the species Escumasia roryi, preserved inside an ironstone nodule that has been split open. It comes from the famous Mazon Creek Lagerstätte. These ironstone nodules have been collected for decades from the spoil heaps of abandoned coil mines near Coal City, Illinois. Both halves of the nodule are provided.

This is considered to be a strange and problematic fossil, for it doesn't quite match/resemble anything else that's extant or extinct. It's a Y-shaped, soft bodied creature that attached itself to a solid surface by a single stalk with a rounded base. The closest potential relation is believed to be cnidarians based on structures of the specimen, however its taxonomic classification is the only species of its genus. Based on the lack of similar specimens anywhere else in the world, it's believed to be a "failed evolutionary experiment".

The Mazon Creek fossil beds are a conservation lagerstätte (deposit with exceptional fossil preservation), located in Illinois. This location of late Paleozoic (~307 million years ago) biota, ranks among many of the other great fossil sites around the world. The large variety of fossils collected here, vary between plants and animals, including soft bodied and insect preservation. The fossils from this site are often quite detailed and are preserved within siderite (iron carbonate) nodules.

Over 500 animal and 200 flora species have been described from Mazon Creek. The event that caused this die off and preservation is believed to have started with a catastrophic flood event that buried the biota of the modern day Mazon Creek area. The deposition of river-borne silt and clay, brought on by upland erosion and delta progradation, contributed to the incredible preservation of one of the most complete records of Paleozoic biota.

This site has been collected for more than 100 years, and likely will continue to be collected by both professionals and amateurs for many years to come.

Escumasia roryi
Essex, Illinois
Carbondale Formation
2" long fossil in 2.3" wide nodule
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