I have had a hiatus from blogging as I was attending the North American Paleontological Convention in Cincinnati last week. I learned many things that would be worth adding to this page, but we were kept so busy at the meeting that there was little time (and even less energy) for writing. I will try to get some of the conference items posted in the next week or two.
While I was in Cincinnati, my friend Bob mentioned that the new book A Sea Without Fish has a piece about this octagonal shed in Madison, Indiana, that has its walls constructed entirely of Ordovician fossil corals. This seemed so intriguing that we took a morning away from the presentations so that we could look at the hut, and at the fabulous Richmondian (Late Ordovician) coral beds along the roadcut leading into Madison.
The shed is in a corner of John Paul Park, which was founded more than 100 years ago. It was built as a tool shed; the panels describe the history of the town and the park (but, interestingly, they don't seem to mention the corals).
The walls are made of coral colonies mortared together. Every one that we could identify seems to belong to the rugose coral genus Cyathophylloides. Even though other corals can be found in the coral beds, the masons must have been selective when choosing stones. This dome-shaped colony is in its growth orientation, but many others have been fitted in every which way.
This colony is turned sideways. The repeated subparallel bands in its skeleton may represent annual growth cycles (similar to tree rings).
Although the shed was the highlight of our trip to Madison, the town has many other interesting sights.