Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN

Moss Arnold

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).

This People of Action, issued circa 1969, reproduced newspaper clippings about people in Decatur County. Most items probably were written in the mid 1960s. Most, but not all, of the items were written by Lillye Younger herself and most, but not all, appeared in the Jackson Sun. The photographs, which in the book were poorly reproduced from clippings, have not been scanned.

Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make these web pages.

Thanks to www.tnyesterday.com for contributing this transcription.

By Lillye Younger

Strolling Moss Gathers Stones

Maybe a rolling stone gathers no moss, but a strolling Moss gathers stones — some very rare and interesting ones.

Moss Arnold, of Parsons, Tenn., an amateur geologist and fossil collector, has found some specimens he believes are among the finest in the state.

One prize specimen is a straight Ordovician cephalopod so vividly formed that the segments of its body can be counted. Arnold also found a 19-inch specimen of the creature in a flower bed that had been in cultivation for 16 years.

He picked up a third cephalopod, also 16 inches long, behind a little country church. Said to be the grandfather of the octopus, the straight Ordovician cephalopod has a tube on the outside of its throat which engendered the saying that it was the first creature to move itself by jet propulsion.

Other interesting fossils in Arnold's collection are several of the trilobite, a crusty, crab-like, little creature which lived some 480,000,000 years ago. One found by Arnold is on display at the Tennessee State Museum at Nashville.

The body of the trilobite, once the most plentiful animal on earth, according to Arnold, was covered with a shell which did not grow with the body. As the body grew, the shell was shed for a larger one.

He emphasized that his trilobites are not cast-off shells but are perfectly formed examples, with the impish-looking little creatures' facial features clearly defined.

Arnold's favorite "niagarensis" coral is in pieces weighing from a few ounces to 18 pounds. Other types of coral, some of which he collected in Florida, include the horn, polyp, pipe organ honeycomb, wasp nest (hexagonarian), sectional tubular, and chain (holicytiez) coral with coralets three inches long.

Oldest of the specimens is probably the troostacrintus, which dates back 500,000,000 years. There are sponges, including the Silurian sponge, in every stage of formation as well as crinoid heads, which Arnold said are rarely found in the Southeast.

The Tennesseean has three large camoracrinus bulbs, petrified hickory (found 26 feet underground), meteorites, bryozoa, crinods, and gastropods, one of the last formed of a substance so hard that it will cut glass like a diamond.

The flesh of some of the animals has been turned by fossilization into agate, quartz crystal, limestone, or chert. Some of the pieces are as large as goose eggs.

Although he had long had an interest in the polishing of limestone, since his father had been in the monument business, Arnold did not begin collecting until 1961. In that year, he read an article by the editor of Rocks and Minerals magazine and realized he had seen many fossils like the author described.

He took up the hobby, finding some of his prize specimens in the gravel pits of Decatur County, a geologist's paradise.

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