2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


DONOVAN, Stephen K., Department of Palaeontology, National Natuurhistorisch Museum, Darwinweg 2, Postbus 9517, Leiden, NL-2300 RA and HENSLEY, Caroline, Department of Palaeontology, The Nat History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, donovan@naturalis.nnm.nl

Trace fossils are arguably the most difficult palaeontological objects that may be under the care of a curator in a geology museum. They are not fossils per se, but biogenic sedimentary structures, requiring curation with relevant sedimentological data such as details of original orientation and substrate if they are to be of continuing value. Conflicts may also arise when evidence for their purported producing organism(s) enables their biological origin to be postulated, giving them an enhanced paleontological value.

The Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum recently subsumed the research collections of the University of Amsterdam, including the paleontological and lithological objects of de Buisonjé (1974, Natuurwetenschappelijke Studiekring voor Suriname en de Nederlandse Antillen, v. 78, 293 p.) from the ABC Islands. De Buisonjé gave casts of Pliocene bivalve borings from Curaçao (that is, trace fossils classified as Gastrochaenolites ispp.; three ichnospecies) the Linnean names of bivalves sensu stricto (five species), whether a mollusk was preserved in the boring or not. Nevertheless, sufficient mollusks are preserved to link producing organisms to their trace fossils. Many of these specimens also preserve molds of part of the bored substrates, colonial scleractinian corals. The principal research interest of these specimens is ichnologic, but adequate cross-referencing between all groups will enable them to be utilized in association with three systematic collections (trace fossils, mollusks and corals). We conclude that they should be included in the trace fossil collection, but analogous cases need to be judged on individual merit.