This is a fossil EarthCache where you'll get to see what are possibly some of the smallest fossils you're ever likely to because they are single-celled organisms.
You don't need any magnifying tools to complete the EarthCache but you'll be able to see the amazing structural detail in the fossils much, much better if you can bring along a decent magnifying glass or, ideally, a hand lens or you could make use of a magnifying app on your smartphone if it has a decent camera (which mine sadly lacks ).
You should also take along a measuring tape or ruler capable of measuring in milimetres as you'll need to take some measurements. (An alternative method of measuring would be to make marks on paper either side of the object to record its size and then measure the distance between those marks when you get home). Photographic evidence will not be accepted and may be considered a spoiler and thus deleted - sorry .
At the given coordinates you will find a retail store clad in limestone of a slightly unusual sandy yellow shade. The fossils you are looking for are in that limestone cladding.
IGNORE the long, thin fossils that a previous finder described as long thin worms - they are actually sections of shell from much larger marine organisms - probably bivalves. Look CLOSELY for the foraminifera and take note of the example shape range on the cache page to get a good idea of the sort of thing you're looking for.
IN ORDER TO COMPLETE THESE LOGGING TASKS PLEASE SEND US YOUR ANSWERS USING THE Message this owner LINK AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE OR USING THE MESSAGE CENTRE OR EMAIL VIA OUR GEOCACHING PROFILE BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR LOG. PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE ANSWERS OR SPOILERS IN YOUR ONLINE LOG. YOU CAN GO AHEAD AND LOG YOUR FIND AS SOON AS YOU HAVE SENT YOUR ANSWERS IN ACCORDANCE WITH GROUNDSPEAK GUIDELINES. LOGS WITHOUT ADEQUATE LOGGING TASK EVIDENCE MAY SUBSEQUENTLY BE DELETED.
Based on your study of the limestone and the foram fossils within it and using the information on the cache page please tell me:
- Forams can range in size from 0.5mm to as much as 20cm across - please provide measurements of the smallest and the largest that you can see in this particular limestone
- Consider how many individual foram fossils are in this limestone. Would you say they are scarce or abundant?
- Are the forams in this stone all the same shape or is there a mixture of shapes? Describe what shapes you see.
- Optional task: feel free to add any photographs of your visit that do not show the specific features from the logging tasks - no spoilers please. In the interests of allowing everyone to experience the EarthCache fully for themselves obvious spoiler photographs will be deleted.
Foraminifera - or forams for short are members of a phylum or class of amoeboid protists characterized by streaming granular ectoplasm for catching food and other uses; and commonly an external shell (called a "test") of diverse forms and materials.
That is to say....
Foraminifera, or forams for short, are single-celled organisms that live in the open ocean, along the coasts and in estuaries. Most have shells for protection and either float in the water column (planktonic) or live on the sea floor (benthic). Of the approximately 8,000 species living today, only about 40 species are planktonic, thus the vast majority of foraminifera live on the sea floor.
The name foraminifera is latin for hole bearers. The shells have hundreds of tiny holes called foramen, the Latin word for window. The organism pushes extensions of its cytoplasm called pseudopodia (or false feet) through these holes to gather food.
Forams are unusual among single-celled organisms because they build shells made of calcium carbonate (calcareous) or from tiny grains of sand stuck together (agglutinate). Beyond a depth of about 5000 metres calcium carbonate dissolves in sea water but those forams which build their shells from agglutinate can survive at the most extreme depths including, for example, the Mariana Trench which is as deep as 200,000 metres in parts. Despite their small size and relatively simple biology, forams build complex shells, consisting at their simplest of one chamber (like a vase or tube) to many chambers that coil in elaborate ways.
Foraminifera are generally less than 500 microns (½ mm) in size, though some tropical species can grow to 20 cm.
Even from a small amount of research it's very clear that foraminifera are fascinating and complex organisms - despite being just single celled. This, however, is not a biology lesson but there's loads of information available online and I do encourage you to read further on the subject matter .
If you've carefully read and digested the information from this cache page your tasks at the cache location should prove relatively straight forward, although you may wish to take a printed copy of the page with you so that you can check your answers while there .
Please submit your logging task responses before posting your log.