100 Years – 100 Objects: Sponge encrusting a Cephalopod


October 7, 2009
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The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from David Temple, the museum’s curator of paleontology. He’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the most fascinating fossils in the Museum’s collections, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org/ – throughout the year.

Sponge, Protospongia rhenana encrusting a cephalopod, Orthoceras
(Devonian, Hunsruck, Slate, Bunden bach, Germany)
HMNS 498

CHI_7601L resizeThis sponge, Protospongia rheana is an example of a delicate animal preserved after being drowned in oxygen-poor silt 390 million years ago. A sessile animal, this sponge attached to a hard spot on the sea floor. On this example, it attached itself to the hard remains of the cephalopod, orthoceras. This sponge may have been buried in place in, or broken free of, the seabed and swept by currents along the bottom before settling in a low area, its final resting place.

Wander among prehistoric beasts in the Paleontology Hall, a permanent exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org.

David
Authored By David Temple

David is the Museum’s associate curator of paleontology. In addition to running the Museum’s dig program in Seymour, TX and curating exhibits, he’s also unofficial head of The Department of Mysteries, a shadow wing of HMNS that deals with strange goo, unusual fossils, mysterious substances or any other unknown object you'd like to know what to do with.

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