Rare Climactichnites and Protichnites Association

First Footprints on Land

Climactichnites wilsoni and

Protichnites eremita

Trace Fossil (Ichnofossil) Association

Geological Time: Upper Cambrian

Size: 25 by 18 inches by 1 inches thick, 35 pounds

Fossil Site: Blackberry Hill, Krukowski Quarry, Elk Mound Group, near Mosinee, Wisconsin

Code DD311

Price: $1950.00 - sold

Climactichnites and Protichnites AssociationThis ichnofossil association of Climactichnites wilsoni and Protichnites ermita is a rare occurrence at the Blackberry Hill site, with only a handful of specimens ever having been available. The dense sandstone plate is loaded with both ichnogenera being superimposed. These footprints of Climactichnites together with Protichnites may be the first animal footprints on land as the makers ventured out of the water to graze on cyanobacterial mats.

Since first described by Sir William Logan in 1860, Climactichnites has remained an enigmatic ichnofossil.Overlapping Climactichnites The fossil caused considerable controversy among paleontologists, and speculation regarding the track maker's identity abounded. Arthropods with soft bodies were denied by the lack of footprints. The possibility of a snail was denied by the V-shaped ridges, and that no known Cambrian snail or worm (even today) can account for the tracks that can be six or more inches wide.
Resembling tracks made by a motorcycle both is size and character, Climactichnites is limited stratigraphically and geographically to the late Cambrian of North America, before entirely disappearing from the fossil record.

The most extensive research on Climactichnites ichnogenera was more recently conducted by Getty and Hagadorn, to include rigorous sedimentology analysis at the Blackberry Hill site in Wisconsin (Elk Mound Group). They conclude the most likely maker was a Cambrian soft-bodied, mollusc-like animal reaching more than two feet in length, making it one the largest Cambrian animals of the time. Locomotion was by a muscular foot, much like a modern gastropod. A host of sedimentary evidence (especially raindrop impressions) demonstrate that the Climactichnites maker inhabited subaerially exposed environments. Abundant microbial sedimentary Euthycarcinoid producing Protichnitesstructures associated with Climactichnites suggest microbial mat binding, together with postulated low levels of vertical bioturbation would explain trackway preservation.

In association here with Climactichnites are Protichnites ichnogenera trackways, a rare co-occurrence in the quarry. The trackmaker of Protichnites at the site is similarly uncertain, and various authors have proposed eurypterids, horseshoe crabs, euthycarcinoids Aglaspids or fiddler crabs, or some closely related arthropod or stem group among these taxons. More recently, Collette, et. al. (2010 and 2012) have described body fossil casts, with legs and segmentation from Blackberry Hill, and other cladistics and ichnofossil studies that lends weight of evidence to euthycarcinoid origins to the Protichnites from Blackberry Hill.

Recent references:

  • Getty, P. R.; Hagadorn, J. W. (2008). "Reinterpretation of Climactichnites Logan 1860 to Include Subsurface Burrows, and Erection of Musculopodus for Resting Traces of the Trailmaker". Journal of Paleontology 82 (6): 1161–1172.
  • Getty P. R. (2007) (masters thesis). Paleobiology of the Climactichnites Trackmaker: An Enigmatic Late Cambrian Animal Known Only from Trace Fossil
  • Collette, J. H., K. C. Gass & J. W. Hagadorn (2012). "Protichnites eremita unshelled? Experimental model-based neoichnology and new evidence for a euthycarcinoid affinity for this ichnospecies". Journal of Paleontology 86 (3): 442–454.
  • Collette, J. H. & J. W. Hagadorn (2010). "Three-dimensionally preserved arthropods from Cambrian Lagerstatten of Quebec and Wisconsin". Journal of Paleontology 84 (4): 646–667.
  • Hagadorn, J. W., and A. Seilacher (2009). "Hermit arthropods 500 million years ago?". Geology 37 (4): 295–298.
  • More references

Also see: Cambrian Shadows Climactichnites Protichnites World's Best Climactichnites

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