MP9: Chapter 15: Caster’s Plasters: Neoichnological Experiments by Kenneth Caster on Limulids in 1937

From Ichnology: Papers From Ichnia III
by A.K. Rindsberg and A.J. Martin.

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This chapter is from GAC's Miscellaneous Publication 9: "Ichnology: Papers from Ichnia III" editted by Dr. Duncan McIlroy. To purchase the entire book on disc, please see the Miscellaneous Publications section of our bookstore at

In the 1930s, Kenneth E. Caster was one of a small but enthusiastic group of North American paleontologists who applied actualistic experimentation to their research on Paleozoic organisms. While Caster was engaged in deciphering Devonian to Mississippian stratigraphy in Pennsylvania, a friend at the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, Bradford Willard, announced the discovery of the oldest known vertebrate footprints, Paramphibius. Unfortunately, as Caster soon realized, the footprints (now called Kouphichnium) were made by limuloids. In order to correct Willard’s spectacular error, he made a thorough comparison of modern and ancient limuloid trackways that remains one of the classics of ichnological literature.
Caster used plaster-of-Paris casts of modern trackways to document their similarities to Paramphibius and other fossil trackways. These casts, which are now at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, reveal Caster’s confident and methodical approach to a neoichnological problem. Our photographs of limulid trackways from the Georgia coast corroborate and extend Caster’s work. Through this combination of old and new insights on limuloid traces, we hope to convey how modern ichnology can acknowledge and incorporate previous legacies, encouraging a historical appreciation for the state of our science.

Electronic Download - 14 pages (May 2015)
Geological Association of Canada

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