Silurian seascape

SILURIAN SEA

Price for original: $600

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    The Silurian age lasted from the end of the Ordovician (approximately 443 million years ago) to the beginning of the Devonian (approx. 416 million years ago).   My original inspiration for this piece was the realization that, despite their abundance in the fossil record, I had seen very few life restorations of graptolites-- an unusual group of colonial animals related to modern-day pterobranchs. Here I've shown three different groups of graptolites-- Monograptus (the long, hot dog-looking things), Spirograptus (the corkscrews) and Cyrtograptus (the spiraling, frisbee-looking yellow thing in the upper left corner). One of the biggest questions about pelagic graptolites is just what exactly kept them afloat. A paper I read while doing research for this piece suggested that the individual animals that made up the graptolite colony may have synchronized the movement of their feathery, food collecting "arms" to create a current of water that allowed them to float and even move to some degree.
I also used this opoortunity to depict conodonts, another tiny animal abundant throughout the fossil record but rarely depicted. In the case of conodonts, this is because their bizarre microscopic mouth apparatuses (not actual teeth, but a complicated, independently-evolved collection of interlocking pieces) are what scientists almost always find. Only a few dozen body fossils have ever been discovered.
Additional, slightly more familiar animals depicted here include a comparatively huge Eurypterid sea scorpion, several jawless Jamoytius fish and a pod of Hexameroceras, an extinct relative of the Chambered Nautilus.

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                       Silurian Sea ©2011 John Meszaros.  All Rights Reserved