Platystrophia Brachiopod Fossil From Kentucky

This is a brachiopod (Platystrophia ponderosa) fossil from the Maysville Formation of Kentucky. It's Ordovician in age, or approximately 445 million years old. It was prepared using air abrasives and air scribes to remove the excess rock around it. The base of the rock has been cut flat so it stands up nicely without the need for a display stand.

Brachiopods are members of the phylum Brachiopoda. They are clam-like with wide shells composed of two halves called valves. They are filter feeders that live fixed to rocks or on the seafloor. Brachiopods first appeared in the early Cambrian as simple forms with non-articulating shells. Their diversity peaked during the Devonian, and there are currently 12,000 described fossil species of Brachiopoda from 5,000 genera. Most species of brachiopod died out during the Permian-Triassic Extinction but about 450 species still live today. They live in cold marine environments like polar seas or continental shelves and slopes. The largest fossil Brachiopod found is 7.9 inches (200 mm), but most are 2-4 inches (3-8 cm). Living Brachiopods also fall into this range.

Brachiopods are more closely related to Bryozoans than Mollusks. The easiest differences to identify are in the shells of clams, part of the mollusk family, and Brachiopods. Mollusk shells are divided into left and right while brachiopod shells are divided top (dorsal) and bottom (ventral). Mollusk shells are usually equal on the right and left. In brachiopods, the bottom shell is larger than the top. The other big difference is in how they feed: both are filter feeders, but mollusks extend their filter into the water and pull food into their shells. Brachiopods have internal feeding structures: water is drawn into the shell where the food is filtered out before expelling it out.
Platystrophia ponderosa
Maysville, Kentucky
Mount Auburn Formation
Fossil 1.4" wide
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