Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Prehistoric Chicken?

We have a small pile of rocks that Saint Tim collected after digging the water line for the back waterer. He needed some fill over the weekend for a sink hole and found this interesting fossil in the pile.

The rock is around 12 inches long and about 6 inches wide, so these are definitely the biggest fossils we've ever found.

Most of our fossils are obviously plants - stems and leaves...

But it's not too much of a stretch to see a prehistoric chicken foot here.

Definitely click to biggify these pictures.

This reminds me of one of my favorite emails of all time. Something I saved and bring out any time I need a good laugh. In case you haven't read it - it's been traveling the intertubes since 1994 apparently and I've saved it since 2001 (doesn't that seem like just yesterday?) - I present, the letter to the Smithsonian:

Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute,
labeled "211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post.
Hominid skull."

We have given this specimen a careful and detailed
examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree
with your theory that it represents "conclusive proof of
the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two
million years ago." Rather, it appears that what you have
found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of
our staff, who has small children, believes to be the
"Malibu Barbie". It is evident that you have given a great
deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you
may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar
with your prior work in the field were loath to come to
contradiction with your findings.

However, we do feel that there are a number of physical
attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you
off to its modern origin:

1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid
remains are typically fossilized bone.

2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approxi-
mately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold
of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.

3. The dentition pattern evident on the "skull" is
more consistent with the common domesticated dog than
it is with the "ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams" you
speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This
latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing
hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this
institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather
heavily against it. Without going into too much detail,
let us say that:

A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll
that a dog has chewed on.

B. Clams don't have teeth.

It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must
deny your request to have the specimen carbon dated. This
is partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in
its normal operation, and partly due to carbon dating's
notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record.
To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were
produced prior to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to
produce wildly inaccurate results. Sadly, we must also
deny your request that we approach the National Science
Foundation's Phylogeny Department with the concept of
assigning your specimen the scientific name
"Australopithecus spiff-arino." Speaking personally, I,
for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your
proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down
because the species name you selected was hyphenated,
and didn't really sound like it might be Latin.

However, we gladly accept your generous donation of
this fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is
undoubtedly not a hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless,
yet another riveting example of the great body of work
you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You
should know that our Director has reserved a special
shelf in his own office for the display of the
specimens you have previously submitted to the
Institution, and the entire staff speculates daily
on what you will happen upon next in your digs at the
site you have discovered in your back yard. We eagerly
anticipate your trip to our nation's capital that you
proposed in your last letter, and several of us are
pressing the Director to pay for it. We are parti-
cularly interested in hearing you expand on your
theories surrounding the "trans-positating
fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix"
that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex
femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive
appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive
crescent wrench.

Yours in Science,

Harvey Rowe
Curator, Antiquities

And I will say, if the Adventure Chickens don't stay out of my gardens and off the porches, they might find themselves extinct as well!


Christine said...

"Clams don't have teeth", bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...

DayPhoto said...

WOW! That is cool. Now what do you do?


Alice said...

The letter you shared is hilarious. I have forwarded it to my sisters. Thanks for the great "find". :-)

Heather said...

Save the chickens! Hilarious post.

Sunny said...

Maybe you have discovered the site of an ancient Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant!
The letter was too funny.
Sunny :)

flowerweaver said...

Looks more like a fossilized wishbone to me...could it be a prehistoric turkey instead? LOL, I remember this letter going around!

Anonymous said...

I"m thinking fossilized coral of some type. Love the letter though!

I need orange said...


Clams don't have teeth......


I have linked to your post, in hopes that even more people will get to enjoy it!

Ed said...

Holy S! That is too funny!!! I did'nt know Indiana Jones worked in Kentucky..:-))

Anonymous said...

There are times when a big belly laugh comes up without warning. It's like a surprise party that will keep me smiling for the rest of the evening (or more). This post will keep me giggling for days :-)


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