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Fossils:(from Latin fossus, literally "having been dug up") are the preserved remains or traces of animals, plants, and other organisms from the remote past. The totality of fossils, both discovered and undiscovered, and their placement in fossiliferous (fossil-containing) rock formations and sedimentary layers (strata) is known as the fossil record. The study of fossils across geological time, how they were formed, and the evolutionary relationships between taxa (phylogeny) are some of the most important functions of the science of paleontology. Such a preserved specimen is called a "fossil" if it is older than some minimum age, most often the arbitrary date of 10,000 years ago.Hence, fossils range in age from the youngest at the start of the Holocene Epoch to the oldest from the Archaean Eon several billion years old. The observations that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led early geologists to recognize a geological timescale in the 19th century. The development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed geologists to determine the numerical or "absolute" age of the various strata and thereby the included fossils.
Like extant organisms, fossils vary in size from microscopic, such as single bacterial cells only one micrometer in diameter, to gigantic, such as dinosaurs and trees many meters long and weighing many tons. A fossil normally preserves only a portion of the deceased organism, usually that portion that was partially mineralized during life, such as the bones and teeth of vertebrates, or the chitinous exoskeletons of invertebrates. Preservation of soft tissues is rare in the fossil record. Fossils may also consist of the marks left behind by the organism while it was alive, such as the footprint or feces (coprolites) of a reptile. These types of fossil are called trace fossils (or ichnofossils), as opposed to body fossils. Finally, past life leaves some markers that cannot be seen but can be detected in the form of biochemical signals; these are known as chemofossils or biomarkers.
Ammonites are an extinct group of marine animals of the subclass Ammonoidea in the class Cephalopoda, phylum Mollusca. They are excellent index fossils, and it is often possible to link the rock layer in which they are found to specific geological time periods.
Ammonites' closest living relative is probably not the modern Nautilus (which they outwardly resemble), but rather the subclass Coleoidea (octopus, squid, and cuttlefish).
Their fossil shells usually take the form of planispirals, although there were some helically-spiraled and non-spiraled forms (known as "heteromorphs"). Their name came from their spiral shape as their fossilized shells somewhat resemble tightly-coiled rams' horns. Pliny the Elder (d. 79 A.D. near Pompeii) called fossils of these animals ammonis cornua ("horns of Ammon") because the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun) was typically depicted wearing ram's horns.Often the name of an ammonite genus ends in -ceras, which is Greek
Orthoceras :("straight horn") is a genus of extinct nautiloid cephalopod. This genus is sometimes called Orthoceratites. Note it is sometimes misspelled as Orthocera, Orthocerus or Orthoceros.
Orthoceras fossils are common and have a global distribution, occurring in any marine rock, especially limestones.
These are slender, elongate shells with the middle of the body chamber transversely constricted, and a subcentral orthochoanitic siphuncle. The surface is ornamented by a network of fine lirae. Many other very similar species are included under the genus Michelinoceras. Although it has an external, chambered shell like the Nautilus, Orthoceras is probably more closely related to coleoids
Trilobites: ("three-lobes") are a well-known fossil group of extinct marine arthropods that form the class Trilobita. Trilobites first appear in the fossil record during the Early Cambrian period (540 million years ago) and flourished throughout the lower Paleozoic era before beginning a drawn-out decline to extinction when, during the Devonian, all trilobite orders, with the sole exception of Proetida, died out. Trilobites finally disappeared in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 250 million years ago.
When trilobites first appeared they were already highly diverse and geographically dispersed. Because trilobites had wide diversity and an easily fossilized exoskeleton an extensive fossil record was left, with some 17,000 known species spanning Paleozoic time. Trilobites have provided important contributions to biostratigraphy, paleontology, evolutionary biology and plate tectonics. Trilobites are often placed within the arthropod subphylum Schizoramia within the superclass Arachnomorpha (equivalent to the Arachnata), although several alternative taxonomies are found in the literature.
Trilobites had many life styles; some moved over the sea-bed (benthic) as predators, scavengers or filter feeders and some swam (pelagic) feeding on plankton. Most life styles expected of modern marine arthropods are seen in trilobites, except for parasitism.Some trilobites (particularly the family Olenida) are even thought to have evolved a symbiotic relationship with sulfur-eating bacteria from which they derived food
Crinoids:also known as sea lilies or feather-stars, are marine animals that make up the class Crinoidea of the echinoderms (phylum Echinodermata). Crinoidea comes from the Greek word krinon, "a lily", and eidos, "form". They live both in shallow water and in depths as great as 6,000 meters
Crinoids are characterized by a mouth on the top surface that is surrounded by feeding arms. They have a U-shaped gut, and their anus is located next to the mouth. Although the basic echinoderm pattern of fivefold symmetry can be recognized, most crinoids have many more than five arms. Crinoids usually have a stem used to attach themselves to a substrate, but many live attached only as juveniles and become free-swimming as adults.
There are only a few hundred known modern forms, but crinoids were much more numerous both in species and numbers in the past. Some thick limestone beds dating to the mid- to late-Paleozoic are almost entirely made up of disarticulated crinoid fragments.
Selenite: satin spar, desert rose, and gypsum flower are four varieties of gypsum; all four varieties show obvious crystalline structure. The four "crystalline" varieties of gypsum are sometimes grouped together and called selenite.
All varieties of gypsum, including selenite and alabaster, are a very soft mineral (hardness: 2 on Mohs Scale) composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate (meaning has two molecules of water), with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O.
The most important identifying characteristic is how soft gypsum is, as any variety of gypsum can be easily scratched with a fingernail. Also because gypsum has natural insulating properties, all varieties feel warm to the touch