02 August 2013

Dust thou art

A powerful microscope it great, but if you don't have anything to look at it doesn't pay off very much. The up to 410x magnification this thing can do is great for checking details in a foram's morphology that might allow for distinction between species, but these features then have to have been preserved. And the critters I look at these days are hundreds of thousands of years old, so it can't be taken for granted that they have. Many of the little shells I see have been rather heavily dissolved and/or recrystallized. Both processes hamper identification, and the former also hampers putting the identification to use. I am now picking forams for dating purposes; I pick from two genera. And as identification to genus is rather easy that tends to be OK with the level of preservation I get, but the problem often is that the tests are so weakened that as soon as I touch them to pick them up and put them in a vial they fall apart. For dust they art, and unto dust shalt they return. Frustrating! 
A recrystallized and partially dissolved foram

A well-preserved foram next to a less fortunate specimen; before dissolution they probably looked pretty much the same

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