[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

RE: unknown animal ?

> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> MKIRKALDY@aol.com
> Please, just delete the message if you receive it.  It is not dinosaur
> science,
> and we need no further on-list discussion of spam.

In case anyone is curious, I have looked at the .zip files.  In some ways it
is more appropriate that paleoartists get it than paleontologists or
microbiologists: it seems the "animal" in question is a bunch of
artistically arranged rocks!

Some of the rocks do look as if they might contain fossil bone, but the
images are not clear.    However, most of the rest of the "body" appears to
be pebbles of various sizes arranged so that it kinda sorta looks like an

>From the text of the posting it appears that no one involved has taken
historical geology (generally the second course any undergraduate geology
major must take, normally second semester freshman year).  For example, they
give the "Stratification depth about 300 meters", as if this datum had some
signficance.  They don't tell us the formation in which it occurs (which
WOULD be useful), or even the lithology of the sediments in which it is

Other researchers (university or museum staff) can certainly tell you
stories of people bringing in interestingly shaped rocks, convinced they are
dinosaur skulls, or dinosaur eggs, or the like.  Once in a blue moon they
are correct (or are wrong but do have something else interesting).  More
often than not it is simply the good old pattern-matching machine in the
brain generating a false positive (the same way we can see shapes with some
meaning in the clouds even if there are not in fact castles or whales or
intercostal clavicles (that was for Larry Dunn... :-) formed of water
droplets floating in the air).

With scanning technology and the internet, it now seems that this old
occupational "hazard" of natural sciences has a digital twist: now EVERYBODY
can get the same interstingly shaped rocks sent to them at once!

Now *some* of that material looked like it might contain fossil bone: I
would hope that the owners take it directly, in person, to the geology
department of a local museum or university, where someone can confirm in
person if it is fossil material or not.

Hope this helps.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-314-7843