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CMNH 13573, Rusophycus
Age: Late Devonian (Famennian) Rock unit: Chagrin Member of the Ohio Shale Formation
Locality: along the Ashtabula River in Plymouth Twp., OH
This is a trace or ichnofossil. Unlike body fossils, ichnofossils are not casts of the original organism. They are preserved evidence of the organism’s activity. Like leaving a footprint, the animal left a burrow. The ridge protruding from the top of this slab may look like the fossilized remains of an organism but it is actually sediment which filled in the semi-circular burrow. Invert the slab to see the proper perspective. Paleontologists are not sure exactly what organism left this trace fossil but they can infer it had a semi-circular shape similar to a horseshoe crab, based on the burrow. Also complicating our understanding is the lack of any imprint of a tail.
The darkened semi-circle on the cross-cut of the slab is evidence of another of these fossils, deposited in the opposite orientation above the main specimen shown here.