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Late Paleozoic Pelecypods: Mytilacea

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Late Paleozoic Pelecypods: Mytilacea

by Norman D. Newell

Cover of the book; dark blue cloth with gold imprinting of title on binding.

Originally published in 1942 as University Geological Survey of Kansas Volume 10, Part 2. This is, in general, the original text as published. The information has not been updated. An Acrobat PDF version (38 MB) is also available, which includes the plates.


by Raymond C. Moore

Recently issued publications of the State Geological Survey of Kansas describing the mineral resources of the state and discussing their utilization by war industries are widely recognized by citizens as valuable and timely contributions that embody accumulated results of field studies and laboratory research. Just as everyone knows that petroleum, natural gas, coal, zinc, lead, salt, clay deposits, and many other similar materials occurring in the earth are essentials of modern industry and their presence in large quantities in Kansas is an all-important source of the state's prosperity, so does everyone—or almost every one—realize the importance of applied geologic seience and of engineering work that is needed for the exploration and development of these resources. A considerable sum is expended annually by Kansas in geological investigations and correlated chemical, physical, and engineering work of various sorts that promote the discovery and utilization of rocks and minerals useful to industry. These sums are investments of the state in itself. They have helped Kansas to advance to a position in the first ten mineral-producing states of the nation and to maintain that high rank. Actually, only seven other states now exceed Kansas in the annual total of new wealth produced from beneath the soiL The State Geological Survey is called on daily in one way or another to aid in developing and in properly conserving, also, the natural resources of Kansas. All of this is a matter of more or less common knowledge.

An essential function of the Geological Survey that is not widely known or appreciated is the investigation of somewhat general and basic problems that bear on understanding of geologic conditions in Kansas. Such studies may include very detailed examination of a clay, applying spectroscopie, X-ray, petrographic, chemical, and several other special techniques, with the object of determining all its properties, factors responsible for these properties, and means of utilizing or modifying them for requirements of industry. Research on the conditions of deposition of the clay may be very important. Many scientific investigations that may seem at first to have only academic interest, actually are fundamental, and accordingly they have high practical value. The application of some studies on rock and mineral deposits may not be known at the time of making the examination, as in the ease of the first finding of helium in natural gas, which was a result of work by Dr. H. P. Cady, of the University of Kansas, on the chemical nature of Kansas natural gases. Helium is now extracted commercially from natural gas. The economic usefulness of some very specialized studies, on the other hand, is thoroughly understood by geologists even before these researches are undertaken. Paleontologic investigations belong in the last mentioned category, because the structural sequence and chronologic order of stratified rocks are indicated by the nature of their contained fossilized organic remains. Correlation of sedimentary formations in different regions and interpretation of conditions of deposition of the rocks depend either wholly or largely on paleontologic data. It is worthy of notice that the relation of studies on the nature and distribution of fossils in the rock strata of Kansas to practical work in developing mineral resources is like the X-ray photograph of a human interior to the needs of a surgeon or physician who is called to diagnose and treat some part of the body. In both eases, the specially trained technician is indispensable,

The following paper constitutes the second of a projected series of reports on an important but neglected group of fossils that is represented by innumerable specimens in many of the Late Paleozoic rocks of Kansas. The group indicated is that of the pelecypods or clams, which are common invertebrates of modern seas and fresh-water bodies, as well as of ancient marine and nonmarine waters. The author of these papers is a native of Kansas, trained as geologist and paleontologist at the University of Kansas and Yale University, experienced in field and laboratory research as a member of the State Geological Survey of Kansas, and teacher in the Department of Geology at the University of Kansas, and now Associate Professor of Geology at the University of Wisconsin. He has gained national and international recognition as an investigator of the older fossil pelecypods and is widely known also as Editor of the Journal of Paleontology, the largest scientific periodical devoted to research on fossils. The first of Doctor Newell's Kansas Geological Survey reports on Pennsylvanian and Permian pelecypods (voL 10, 1937) dealt with the Pectinacea, or scallops. It incorporated descriptions and illustrations of numerous specimens in the collections of the University of Kansas, but the research work itself was not financed by the State Geological Survey. Similarly, this second report, which treats the stratigraphically important group Mytilacea, called mytilids and myalinids, is largely based on Kansas fossil collections; but it is a contribution of Doctor Newell's time and labor, aided by a research grant from the University of Wisconsin. The State Geological Survey of Kansas is indebted to Doctor Newell and to the University of Wisconsin for the opportunity to incorporate this report in its publications on the geology and paleontology of Kansas. Few parts of the world offer as fine a record of alternating marine and nonmarine sedimentary deposits of Late Paleozoic age, containing abundant well preserved fossils, as Kansas. This imposes both an opportunity and a responsibility on investigators of Kansas geology to obtain and to disseminate information that serves general advancement of geologic science. Papers of the type represented by this report on fossil clams have much more than local and temporary value. They have bearing on geologic studies in distant corners of the world and possess lasting value in scientific literature.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web Dec. 18, 2017; originally published 1942.
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