Posts tagged ‘fossils’


Now THAT’S Embarrassing

All of us have had embarrassing moments – those times when we want to hide away, never to be reminded again of our shameful deed. Maybe you were even so unlucky that someone caught a picture or video of your embarrassing act. But for nearly all of us, we can be pretty sure that our most embarrassing moment won’t be mineralized and preserved for all of geologic time, unlike some of the unfortunate animals above. Just be thankful that your lowest moments – that time you were eaten alive by a bigger fish, the time you got caught having sex with your gnat mate, the time you were seen performing unmentionable acts on another turtle, or the time you were a bird and you got eaten by a giant fish – won’t be unearthed by archaeologists and put on display for all of posterity.

You’re welcome.

Quick Links


Opalised fossils

Australia is the only place in the world where opalised fossils are found. Fossils are usually formed when plant or animal remains are buried after death, and are slowly encased with sediments and infused with minerals, leaving a rock-like replica of the original organic material. Opalised fossils, however, replace an organism’s organic material with shimmering, solid opal. Excellent detail can be preserved both on the surface and internally, depending on how the opal forms: it’s a hydrous silicon oxide, and begins as a solution of silica in water. If an organism completely rots away, the opal will fill the empty space and create a cast of the external features—but if an organism has left organic material behind, the solution might harden to form a replica of the internal structure too. One of the richest sources of opalised fossils is Lightning Ridge in northwestern New South Wales. The fossils paint a vibrant history of animals who lived there in the Early Cretaceous Period, approximately 110 million years ago—dinosaurs, marine reptiles, fish, early mammals, molluscs, plants… Unfortunately, the opalised fossils are often cut up for jewellery or sold overseas for their beauty and value, but as they’re of significant scientific interest, researchers and paleontologists are working to preserve them.

(Image Credit: 1, 2)

Scientists in South Africa have found an unusually complete skeleton of a young hominid, either of an early Homo genus or a very close relative. It seems to be roughly 2 million years old, and contains some of the critical bones for study.

These include a femur, vertebrae, some ribs, a lower jaw, and some limb components that can give important clues as to how the young hominid moved, ate, and thought.

Even more exciting, they plan to establish a special lab near the Cradle of Mankind digsite, allowing anybody to watch palaeontology in action:

The university also announced it would open up the process of exploring and uncovering fossil remains to the public and stream it online in real time.

A special laboratory studio will be built at the Cradle of Humankind.

“The public will be able to participate fully in live science and future discoveries as they occur in real time – an unprecedented moment in palaeoanthropology,” Professor Berger said.

Vandals smash duck-billed dinosaur fossil to pieces in Alberta.

Link: Vandals smash duck-billed dinosaur fossil to pieces in Alberta.

Similarly, a construction crew destroyed nearly 20,000 leatherback sea turtle eggs this week in Trinidad. Both the bones and the eggs, the past and future of our earth, are priceless in their own ways. Lack of care or outright ignorance is bad for everybody.