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Picturing the Past 12: Snaky situation

Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2009, at 9:58 AM

See the rattlesnake in this rock? (Photo submitted by Brenda Burks)
Here's something a little different from the previous Picturing the Past photos: A new picture of something old.

This comes from Brenda Burks, of the Wartrace area, who e-mailed me last week wanting to know exactly what's preserved in this rock.

"We laid these rocks about 15 or 20 years ago," Brenda writes. "They were just field rocks picked up around Wartrace."

This rock now resides beside Brenda's back door, she says.

"To me, this looks like a rattlesnake's tail and head," Brenda says. "Now the forked thing, I don't know, someone said maybe a snake's tongue or maybe a tool used to kill the snake."

Some of us at the T-G office see a tongue, others see a tool.

"Can you guide me in the right direction to find more out about it?" Brenda asks.

So here's where you come in. I've notified Brenda that this is in today's blog.

Showing most recent comments first
[Show in chronological order instead]

lazarus Loved the explaination... sound just like my son.

Don't ever be ashamed of having a High IQ..

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Fri, Jun 12, 2009, at 3:10 PM


orthocone means straight shell. cephalopods are a group of animals, today including octopi, squid, cuttlefish, and the only currently extant shelled cephalopod i know of, the nautilus, which has a coiled shell. orthocone cephalopods came first, developing during the ordovician period (between the cambrian and the silurian). cephalopod means 'head-foot', sort of appropriate since they all have tentacles growing out of their heads. modern cephalopods are highly intelligent, and it is assumed that their primitive forbears were also intelligent, especially compared to their peers in the ancient seas. they are also skilled hunters today. the most advanced competitors the ordovician cephalopods would have faced were the jawless fish, thus it is easy to see them as the terrors of the seas during their heyday. i have seen numerous orthocone cephalopod fossils in eastern bedford county, even have a few particularly good specimens here at the house. the fossils pictured are clearly orthocone cephalopods.

i am not sure how they would stack up against the predators in bedford lake (certainly they couldnt have handled the alligator that used to live there).

ps. before you even think it, i am NOT a geek!

-- Posted by lazarus on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 8:52 PM

these animals were probably the fiercest hunters of the ordovician seas.

Yeah, no doubt more fierce than those in Bedford Lake, or even the Duck Pond.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 12:03 PM


-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 10:51 AM

orthocone cephalopod fossils are common in the strata between the nashville basin and the highland rim plateau. these animals had tubular, segmented shells that tapered to a point, and soft bodies. tentacles grew out of their heads which protruded from the large end of the shell.

mostly only the shells fossilized, and some are as much as 4 feet long. the living animal would have been about 8 feet long. modern desendents include cuttlefish & octopi. these animals were probably the fiercest hunters of the ordovician seas.

-- Posted by lazarus on Tue, Jun 9, 2009, at 10:17 PM

To me they're all rattlesnakes until proven otherwise....

I'm the only person I know who would have run from the rock when I saw it.

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Tue, Jun 9, 2009, at 8:49 PM

Yep, sure looks like a rattlesnake to me. Through the years I have come to believe there are all kinds of rattlesnakes-----black rattlesnakes, green rattlesnakes, multi-colored rattlesnakes, night crawler rattlesnakes, catalpa rattlesnakes, etc.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 9, 2009, at 11:07 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.