Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Accidental fossil discoveries

Jure Žalohar of Slovenia's University of Ljubljana was jogging through an area where he and fellow researchers had been investigating fossil insects when he crouched down at a stream to wash his hands. He spotted something "completely unexpected" - the oldest seahorse fossils ever to be discovered. One of the specimens is the 2 1/2" 13-million-year-old adult female Hippocampus sarmaticus fossil depicted above.
Stonecutters at a yard in northern Italy were slicing a massive block of Egyptian limestone when they realized it couldn't be used for its intended purpose, high-end kitchen and bathroom countertops, becaused it was riddled with fossils. (Although it should be noted that some people prize counters with embedded fossils, as the photo shows.) "Being masons we were ignorant of the importance of the discovery we had made," said supervisor Ricardo Francione. As it turned out, they had created an almost perfect cross-section of a whale that had lived in Egypt 40 million years ago - and the smaller bones in the matrix are leading to new discoveries about the ancestors of iconic African animals like zebras, rhinocerous, and wildebeest.
Dorothy Sisk and Jim Westgate of Lamar University in Beaumont had gone to the Bolivar Peninsula to see what remained of Sisk's home after Hurricane Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast in 2008. They found what Westgate - who happened to be a paleontologist - recognized as the fossilized tooth of a mammoth that had roamed North America at least 10,000 years ago. The discovery of the 6 lb. tooth made headlines that reunited it with its owner. Roy Davis, whose 1-bedroom house was demolished by the hurricane, had acquired the mammoth's tooth in the mid-1980s when it turned up at a construction site in Texas near a zoo where he worked as head elephant trainer. Westgate happily returned the tooth to Davis, and remarked, "It's kind of neat that he got something back after that total loss."

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.