Fossil ID


I was looking through my childhood rock collection and came across a few items I believe to be fossils of some sort. I know my description will be rough, but I’ve seen the dope do great things so I was wondering if someone could help me discover what they are/were.

The fossils were found in West Tennessee. They are segmented cylinders about an inch tall by a quarter inch in diameter. They are ribbed along the width of them and resemble tootsie rolls. I’ll try to post a pic in the next few days if nothing jumps to mind. Thanks

Sounds like fragments of the stems of fossil crinoids.

Crinoids are also known as sea lilies.


I have no clue what a tootsie roll looks like so I cannot second the opinion of Colibri.

However, I am a paleontologist, so if you can provide a picture, perhaps I can give you an opinion and hopefully, back up Colibri with his/her early diagnosis (beating me to the punch!!!).

Tootsie roll or chocolate-flavored crinoid, you decide.:slight_smile:

The Dope is amazing; thanks for the quick response! The fossils look exactly like the picture Colibri posted. So I’m assuming these aren’t incredibly rare or anything? Very cool nevertheless!

Also what’s the minimum age for something like this to fossilize?


I have never before seen a Tootsie roll - but if your fossil looks like this then I bow to Colibri.

Dopers rule again!!

(Is Colibri also a paleontologist with more knowledge of Tennessee than I???)
Age-wise best developed in Mississippian times approximately 350 - 320 mybp

No, Colibri is an ornithologist living in Panama (though I don’t know if that’s where he’s from), but he obviously has enthusiasms outside his field of study. He’s on the SDSAB, after all!

He is of course a student of Central American dinosaurs, as his Dopername would indicate! :wink:

If any one chooses to nit-pick - the age range of “crinoids” is indeed quite wide.

However, I think we were referring to their acme in the Mississippian (as per the fossils cited).

Any other interpretation - have at us.
PS. Colibri, what are you finding down there right now?

Big Bones are not really my cup of tea - I am more interested in the other end of the scale - the microfossils. Got anything interesting happening there??

Anything to interest a microbugger?

I’m originally from New York City, but have been living in Panama for the past 17 years. My main field of research is ornithology, but I’ve always been interested in all aspects of natural history, including paleontology. When I was an undergraduate at Cornell I collected a few fossils of crinoids and trilobites.

Right now I’m curator of exhibitions for a new Museum of Biodiversity under construction in Panama City which will include galleries on geology and paleontology.

The big project going on right now is associated with the Panama Canal expansion excavations. They are finding lots of interesting macrofossils including horses, rhinos, etc. However, a lot of work down here on the Panama Paleontology Project has involved looking at benthic and planktonic forams and other microfossils. On the terrestrial side there’s been quite a bit of palynological work done.

Thanks for the links Colibri.

Seems there is a whole lot of work going on there on that is waaaay outside of my knowledge, although the benthonic forams are always interesting to me,

That said, I am currently active at work on the Indian subcontinent and we also have lots of new things happening here.

I will surely bookmark your links and dip into your results when I have time to see what you all are finding.

Best regards, and thanks for the links,


I was of course making a joke on the “birds are dinosaurs” new taxonomy; Colibri is an ornithologist.