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Fossils

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Oolon Colluphid
252662.  Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:19 am Reply with quote

If fossils aren't quite interesting (unless perhaps you're a palaeontologist), they're certainly quite useful in examining prehistory. The word comes from the Latin fossus, meaning "having been dug up".

The best way to fossilise yourself, according to Does Anything Eat Wasps?, is to go to a deep part of the sea and lie on the seabed. Or get yourself in some amber (but be careful, future geneticists may try to make a theme park from your DNA).

FOSSIL is also a standard for telecommunications on a DOS system.

 
Sadurian Mike
260779.  Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:53 pm Reply with quote

The vast majority of fossilised dinosaur eggs are from the Cretaceous period.

The smallest fossil of an extinct reptilian species (including dinosaurs), was only 51mm long and possibly an embryo. From where it was found (an area that would have been underwater at the time the fossil was laid down), it is possibly a clue to the species bearing live young.

EDIT: centimetres, milimetres; what's the difference anyway....


Last edited by Sadurian Mike on Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Sadurian Mike
261418.  Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:42 pm Reply with quote

Now here's something genuinely QI about fossils (well, I'm excited, anyway).

Apparently, they may have identified red blood cells in the fossilised bones of T-Rex. Normally, all the organic material is replaced by mineral, but it appears that some of the original bone may have been left in this instance. The scientists claim to have seen red blood cells, which means that it might be possible to extract enough data to finally determine such things as whether dinos were warm or cold-blooded, and even isolate DNA!

Sceptics might note the frequent use of the word "might". Also, it is possible that the "red blood cells" are actually certain iron-based minerals.

Watch this space; Jurassic (well, Cretaceous) Park can only be a decade away!

 
Sergei
261521.  Sat Jan 19, 2008 1:32 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
The smallest fossil of an extinct reptilian species (including dinosaurs), was only 51cm long and possibly an embryo.

Really, nothing smaller than that? Seems vast for an embryo.

 
General_Woundwort
261555.  Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:08 am Reply with quote

The article Sadurian Mike cited is from 1997, but soft tissue and protein structures do indeed appear to have been isolated. It had the misfortune to be published in the popular press on 1 April.

The lead author on these articles, Mary Schweiter, has her own blog.

Growing D.N.A. inside frogs? They're insane!

 
djgordy
261657.  Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:41 am Reply with quote

Oolon Colluphid wrote:
The best way to fossilise yourself, according to Does Anything Eat Wasps?, is to go to a deep part of the sea and lie on the seabed.


I'll get in to it right away. If you're still around in 10 million years I'll let you'll find out how it went.

 
Sadurian Mike
261833.  Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:40 pm Reply with quote

Sergei wrote:
Sadurian Mike wrote:
The smallest fossil of an extinct reptilian species (including dinosaurs), was only 51cm long and possibly an embryo.

Really, nothing smaller than that? Seems vast for an embryo.

You're right, it would be.

51 millimetres long, however, is a bit smaller.

Bangs head on desk.

 
Flash
261861.  Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:08 pm Reply with quote

"What's the best way to fossilise yourself?" is rather a good question. Is it expressed that way in the book?

 
samivel
261974.  Sun Jan 20, 2008 2:32 am Reply with quote

The actual question in the book is:

D.J. Thompson wrote:
After my death I would like to become a fossil. Is there anything I could have done to my remains that would improve my chances, and where would be a good place to have them interred? How quickly could I turn into a fossil?

 
djgordy
262011.  Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:37 am Reply with quote

Strictly speaking, a fossil is something which has been dug up from the ground so someone could become a fossil as soon as they are buried.

I expect that the question really means "how long would it be before the process of permineralisation (petrification) takes place.

 
djgordy
262225.  Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:37 am Reply with quote

djgordy wrote:
Strictly speaking, a fossil is something which has been dug up from the ground so someone could become a fossil as soon as they are buried.


Now, that would make a for some great klaxoning on Q.I.

 
Flash
262235.  Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:05 am Reply with quote

Are we confident that it's right, though? Chambers has this:
Quote:
fossil noun 1 geol the petrified remains, impression or cast of an animal or plant preserved within a rock. 2 a relic of the past. 3 colloq a curiously antiquated person. 4 as adj a like or in the form of a fossil; b formed naturally through the decomposition of organic matter, and dug or otherwise got from the earth fossil fuels.

 
djgordy
262292.  Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:54 pm Reply with quote

I would say so because a fossil is merely the remains of a once living animal or plant which has been dug from the earth.

 
samivel
262298.  Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:25 pm Reply with quote

But then, as djgordy points out himself regularly, if enough people use a word to mean a certain thing, then that is what it means, so if enough people use 'fossil' to mean petrified remains, then that's what the word means.

 
Flash
262301.  Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:36 pm Reply with quote

It's a bit stronger than that, isn't it? The etymology may be from "dug up" but the word is never given that meaning, either in a dictionary or in usage. You wouldn't describe a body exhumed from a graveyard as a 'fossil' under any circumstances.

 

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