Fossils

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To see Global Grade 3's original post click on this title Rock Museum.

Hello Grade 3,

Well, you have been studying something of great interest to me, although previous classes know many things interest me. Rocks, minerals and fossils can be fascinating. I thought I might share some photos of a few of my collection.

Hardness

Did you know geologists grade rocks for hardness on a scale known as the Moh Scale? It's a scale running from the softest at 1 to the hardest at 10. Here are photos of the hardness levels from my collection.

Moh 1 - Talc

Talc is a very soft rock. You can easily scratch with your fingernail. It's the stone used to make talcum powder. This is a very small sample from my collection and is only about 1cm across.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 2 - Gypsum

A little harder than talc but it can still be scratch using your fingernail. I have plainer samples of gypsum but like this rose gypsum.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 3 - Calcite

Calcite can be scratched using a copper coin. I liked this closeup photo of calcite crystals.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 4 - Fluorite

These fluorite crystals can be easily scratched using a knife.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 5 - Apatite

Apatite can be scratched using a knife.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 6 - Orthoclase

Can be scratched by a steel knife.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 7 - Quartz

Scratches glass.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 8 - Topaz

Like the diamond, this topaz is lower quality and, by its shape and look, was found in a river or stream. Topaz can scratch quartz. Good quality topaz is used in jewellery.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 9 - Corundum

Corundum scratches topaz. While I shared a rough topaz, I thought I would show you a small cut corundum gemstone.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Moh 10 - Diamond

This is a real diamond from my collection but it isn't worth very much because it is not gem quality. It is industrial quality because of its impurities. Diamond can scratch all samples in a lower moh scale.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 ABOUT FOSSILS

Back in 2012, I shared some of my fossils with an earlier Global Grade 3. If you want to see what I shared, here is the link below.

My Fossils for Global Grade 3

To see Global Grade 3's post, click the link blow...

Investigating Fossils

Life can be full of wonder and discovery if we only keep our minds and senses open to the world around us.

Some Fossils In My Collection

Hi there!

I didn't think I would be preparing another extended comment for you so soon but you wrote a post about one of my favourite topics, fossils. I thought I would write a post so I could share photos of some fossils in my collection and links to other posts written on this blog.

At the end of this post, I have added links to some other posts I have written about fossils and dinosaurs.

Some of my favourite fossils I collected.

Being able to find your own fossils makes a specimen more special because you could be the first person to have seen it.

The sample below was collected from a dolomite quarry. You can still see the remains of the original shell but the soft parts of the animal have been replaced by dolomite. This shell belonged to an animal living perhaps 30,000 years ago.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The next dolomite stone was found when I was walking along a beach. You can see it has been rounded by wave action and rubbing against other rocks. In it are the remains of small shellfish. I can stlll find small shells similar to these on beaches today.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Below is part of a fossilised tree trunk I found when looking over a rockfall. I only have this section but I always wondered if the entire tree was somewhere in the tonnes of rock in the rockfall. According to my geological map, this fossil may have been a living tree perhaps 200 million years ago.

I don't know when the rockfall happened but I had also been to the same place before part of the cliff above gave way.

WARNING: unstable areas can be very dangerous. I only examined the edges of the rockfall and kept well away from the cliff area.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

In the next fossil we see a leaf in the middle and a piece of a branch below it. As it was found in the same rockfall as the fossilised tree trunk above, it may have come from the same tree.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

And some favourites I purchased...

Fossiled ammonite shell. Ammonites lived in the ocean from about 400 million to 65 million years ago.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This ammonite fossil shell has been cut in half and polished to show the chambers inside the shell.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Dinosaur coprolite from U.S.A. Did you know it can be possible for scientists to find what animals had eaten from coprolite samples? This was from a herbivore dinosaur. It may only be a coprolite but it is my only real dinosaur fossil.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Trilobite - Species of trilobites roamed the oceans from about 500 to 250 million years ago.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I've included the photo below but it isn't a fossil. It is a piece of wood from a New Zealand kauri tree found in a swamp. Because of the quality of the timber and the lack of oxygen in the swamp, it had been preserved but you can see the writing printed on the timber telling us it has been carbon dated to 44500 years. Imagine, it's over 40000 years old but looks as though it has been cut from a modern tree. Kauri trees are still found in New Zealand forests today.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Below is a photo of a kauri tree I had taken in 1986. It is known as Tane Mahuta. It's thought to be between 1250 and 2500 years old but is still alive. It's the largest kauri tree known to be standing in New Zealand. In the Maori language, Tane Mahuta means "Lord of the Forest".

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Some of the most interesting dinosaur fossils found are those of dinosaur eggs. Look at the photo below. It shows dinosaur eggs in a nest so we know at least some dinosaurs had nesting grounds for their eggs. Can you imagine seeing a heard of nesting dinosaurs caring for their eggs?

This image was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain. It was taken in China's Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology.

This image was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain. It was taken in China's Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology.

And now for something a little different.

Below is a photo of a toy dinosaur egg.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

When placed in water and left, the egg starts to open and the toy dinosaur can be seen hatching. It grows (swells) in the water.  It can take up to one week so I might have to top up the water. According to the information sheet, the dinosaur in this egg is named Matilda and is a Diamantinasaurus matildae. The diamantinasaurus is an Australian dinosaur. Fossils were found in the Australian state of Queensland.

I don't know whether to try it or not because I like the secret inside being a secret.

Would you hatch it if you had one?

It's only through fossils and other remains we can start to discover animals and plants from the past. As examples, some are simply washed out of the ground in storms, some uncovered in mining, and some are seen after rockfalls. Back in 1984, I visited Naracoorte's Victoria Fossil Cave in South Australia. Animals had wandered into the cave, become lost and died. Paleontologists had been digging and found, amongst other animals, the remains of an extinct kangaroo species as well as diprotodon (a little like a huge wombat). Here is a photo of the dig site back in 1984..

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I checked Wikipedia to see what they have since discovered and found Wikimedia Commons has a wonderful public domain photo taken in the cave in 2006. It shows thylacoleo skeleton. This was an extinct carnivorous marsupial. Being a marsupial, the females would have had pouches for their young.

his image was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain. It was taken in China's Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology.

his image was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain. It was taken in China's Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology.

And now for a little gift I posted to you today...

I have just finished collecting cards from a new series named "Ancient Animals". I thought you might like one of the sets for your class. It has 81 cards on different types of animals from the past. It does come with a special magnifying glass with a UV light to show secret information on some of the cards. I had to put the UV magnifying glass in a small box to keep it safer. Both were posted on October 16. If all goes well and both parcels reach you, I wonder how long they will take and whether the book or magnifying glass arrives first?

Ancient Animals

 

AND NOW FOR THE LINKS TO EARLIER POSTS ON THIS BLOG I PROMISED

It was back in 2012 I wrote a post about fossils for the Global Grade 3. They would probably be Grade 6 now. Here is a link...

My Fossils for Global Grade 3

I've included links to posts I wrote after a visit the the National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra, Australia's capital city.

What the Dino Saw

What the Dino Saw Next

 All of the knowledge in the world is of no use unless it's used to help, and is shared with, others.

Click to go back to "What the Dino Saw"

The displays shown on this blog post were photographed/filmed in April, 2014. Displays may change over time.

Things to remember:

We don't really know what colours dinosaurs were. Fossils don't show colour. The colours you see are guesses.

We don't know what sounds the dinosaurs made. Like colour, the sounds are also guesses.

Scientists can make guesses about how dinosaurs looked by looking at fossils.

You have survived going through the dinosaur's mouth so let's see what's next in the Canberra's National Dinosaur Museum. Have you heard the song "Never Smile at a Crocodile". The smiling skull you see when you enter is a deinosuchus. Below it you can see a crocodile skull. Deinosuchus is related to an alligator and is not a dinosaur but it was very big.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Deinosuchus

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Now meet your first inside dinosaur. It is a raptor like the velociraptor but bigger.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Utahraptor

Some of the dinosaurs in the museum can move. Click on the video below to see the moving utahraptor...

 

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As we walk inside, there is a discovery area for hands on investigation at the left and a shop on the right but our journey is up the stairs to see the dinosaurs. Look up as you climb the stairs and you will see flying reptiles. They are not dinosaurs but soared through the sky when dinosaurs were around.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Click on the video below to see one of the flying reptiles move.

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Now you're on the top floor, there are many dinosaurs and other creatures to see. Here are a few...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Stegosaurus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Carnotaurus 

Click on the video below to see the carnotaurus move...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Spinosaurus 

Click on the video below to see the spinosaurus move...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Iguanodon

Click on the video below to see the iguanodon move...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Click on the video below to see the tyrannosaurus rex move...

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Now, a question for you. Look at the picture of a spinosaurus below. Underneath the spinosaurus are photos of four replica dinosaur teeth. Can you guess which replica tooth belongs to the spinosaurus?

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Once you have decided which tooth belongs to a spinosaur, click the link to show the answer...

I've made my guess.

The photos and videos were taken in April, 2014. The displays may have had changes if you visit Canberra's National Dinosaur Museum.

Hello everyone,

I know you are interested in dinosaurs and wanted to learn something about them. Let's start with a visit to Canberra's National Dinosaur Museum. When you arrive, you can see dinosaurs waiting to greet you.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Let's meet some of the dinosaurs waiting outside the museum. If you want to learn more about one of them, you can click on their names under the photo and it will take you to an information page about the dinosaur.

Let's start with an old favourite...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

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You may know the tyrannosaurus rex was a carnivore. It ate meat but do you know the meat eating dinosaur below?

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Spinosaurus

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Not all meat eating dinosaurs were as big as these. Did you know there were smaller dinosaurs who would hunt together? Velociraptors might only be 60cm high and 1.6m long but the Utahraptor was bigger. Let's meet a Utahraptor.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Utahraptor

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Not all dinosaurs were meat eaters.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Brachiosaurus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Parasaurolophus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Stegosaurus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Triceratops

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There were also reptiles that could fly. While not dinosaurs, they soared through the skies...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Pteranodon

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Now let me show you around the inside of the National Dinosaur Museum. Click on the photo below to go to the next post and see inside the museum...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Things to remember:

We don't really know what colours dinosaurs were. Fossils don't show colour. The colours you see are guesses.

We don't know what sounds the dinosaurs made. Like colour, the sounds are also guesses.

Scientists can make guesses about how dinosaurs looked by looking at fossils.

 

 

To see the 2013 post where Keira left her comment and questions...

What Stone Is That?- A Follow Up Post for Keira

This photo was supplied by Mrs. Yollis and class.

This photo was supplied by Mrs. Yollis and class.

Hello Keira,

In one of your comments you mentioned you had a plethora of questions. A superabundance of questions is the sign of an inquiring mind. It seems as though your questions have turned from astronomy to geology. As before, your words will appear in bold blue text.

Since the day I found the rock that you mentioned in the post at a camping site, I have treasured it. Recently, I went camping at the same exact site, and I found many more rocks that seem to have some kind of beautiful mineral inside of it. In fact, I collected a rock that is made out of all gem. I am a little disappointed that in comments, you cannot post pictures with the text. If I could, I would take a picture of all the rocks I collected so you could see them for yourself.

You have discovered the reason this blog was formed. I also found comments on blogs generally couldn’t include photos, videos or sound and were limited to only one link. A blog allows it all providing we know about being safe online.

When I stumble upon an interesting rock, I tend to have the instinct to pick it up. I know that you probably have that same instinct too, because you are like a walking encyclopedia, always gathering up new information. I said this because I wanted to know if you have either found or bought any new rocks yet. I also want to know which one you most likely do to collect rocks: Do you buy them from rock sellers more often, or do you collect them on your own outside more?

While I have collected rocks in the field, I am unable to travel as much as I once had so these days I am more often to buy samples if I find them interesting. I have recently added some interesting stones. See if you find these samples interesting…

The first photo shows flourite (calcium flourine) crystals. The green mat they're on have 1cm squares so you can see their size. Each crystal has 8 facets (faces), i.e. they are octahedral crystals. They have not been cut. A collector was selling some of his samples at a local country show.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

In my area, different towns have markets on weekends. When visiting one, I found a man was selling geodes from Queensland. While I already had some, I was fascinated by this sample because it looks as though two fused together when they were formed perhaps 200 million years ago.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Here is one from my collection that has been broken open. They aren't as impressive as my Brazilian geodes but I like the Australian samples because they are from home.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I have yet a few more questions to ask you. Have you ever found a rock from a volcano? I think it would be most likely that you have because, in one of your posts, you said that you had seen a few volcanoes erupt. If, a couple months later, you had gone down to examine the area near the volcano, and you found a interesting rock, I think you would have kept it and put it in your collection. I know that if I found one, I would definitely keep it.

When collecting any stones, we must be aware whether or not we are in national parks where we are not permitted to collect stones and rocks. There are places where you can collect stones, including igneous (volcanic) rocks. When I can, I have collected stones but I have also bought many.

My favourite item from a volcanic area in New Zealand was collected by me (with permission). It was collected near a fumarole where the sulphur (U.S. spelling: sulfur) crystals were forming. Because sulphur crystals break down and lose their shine if exposed to water or moist air, the below sample has been kept in a perspex box since I found it over 30 years ago. The crystals still shine as you can see.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I have already written a number of posts on volcanoes. Below are links to some of the first posts written for this blog back in 2012...

Volcanoes Post 1

Scree and Obsidian

Aa and Pahoehoe from Hawaii

Pumice and New Zealand Iron Sands

Geological Hot Spots

New Zealand

Final Volcano Post

Another question is have you ever been in a cave where jewels were growing naturally? I asked that question because I heard on a science show that people can explore caves with jewels in them. I doubt that you have ever been in one, but I can not know for sure until you tell me the answer. If you have been in one, what kind of minerals did you see?

A cave of jewels… what a wonderful thought reminding me of the first time I saw the 7 dwarfs working in the jewel mine in Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” when I was about your age. I dreamed of finding such a mine back then but I know finding a mine with gem quality stones is hard enough without expecting more than one type of gem. A diamond mine would be nice. 🙂

Below is an item in my collection measuring 5cm diameter across the top. Unfortunately, it is only a glass replica.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I have been in gold mines, coal mines and a couple other mines but the closest to a jewel mine would have been an opal mine. There are mines all over the world where jewels are found, some very unsafe for the miners. I only enter mines welcoming visitors on guided tours.

Perhaps Australia’s most famous jewel mine is the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia. It is an open cut mine where they dig down making valleys not dig tunnels.  Here is a link to their website.

Argyle Diamond Mine

You might know diamonds can be different colours other than clear. Argyle’s most famous colour is pink. Click on the link below to see some of the colours in Argyle diamonds…

Argyle Pink Diamonds

This is the last question I have before the last question I want to ask you. I want to ask you if you have ever mined any type of mineral. If so, what did you mine?

When out hunting for stones, I often have my geologists hammer with me. The pointy end is use to chip into rocks and the flat end to break rocks. You could say I have used this in mining in a small way. The picture is below…

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I have also panned for gold in old gold fields and hunted for rocks, crystals and fossils in many locations.

Gold

Some of this sample has been panned by me. Much was bought.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I bought this sample of gold in quartz from a place called Hill End where there was an active gold mine. I have been in a mine in the area but not the active mine.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A gold nugget from New Zealand, it is about 1.5cm across.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Fossils

The two fossils below were found by me at a rock fall site many years ago. The first shows a fossilised leaf and the second is part of a fossilised tree trunk.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 In this sample I picked up, you can see shells in the stone. Rather than fossils, they are still real shells embedded in stone.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I picked up the following shell embedded in rock from an open cut mine.

Shell 30,000 years old

Finally, I want to ask you if you have ever cut a rock open and discovered gems inside?

A gem is a stone used in jewellery so it can be anything from quartz to diamonds, emeralds and rubies. I have found quartz and amethyst in rocks as well as in rivers where they have been washed. Some of my stones are of gem quality but I have never found anything really valuable.

This quartz crystal sample might be of gem quality in part if it was cut but I like it as it is.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

As you said in your post, you do not have a diamond cutter, but have you ever used one? If so, was it hard to cut the stone open?

I have seen them used but I haven’t used one. It’s a skill to be able to cut a stone well. I have stones I collected so I could use them if I had access to a diamond saw. They are known as chert and are reasonably easy to cut and polish but aren’t worth much. My samples have colour bands through them so they might look good cut, shaped and polished into cabachons.

Diamonds are not made into cabachons nor are other gems such as emerald and rubies. They are faceted. This means they are cut and polished to have faces. Turquoise, agate and opal are examples of stone often made into cabachons. Look at the images of assorted cabachons below.

CABACHON SAMPLES

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A diamond saw is used on most stones, diamond being the hardest stone we can find. It uses a special saw blade embedded with diamonds. Before you think this is a waste of diamonds, most diamonds found are not of gem quality. They are industrial quality. I have seen websites selling these low quality diamonds for as little as $120 to $180 per kilogram.

If you have never cut a stone open, would you ever like to cut one of your stones open?

While I would like to be able to cut my own stones, time to do so and the money to buy the equipment means this isn’t possible. I have broken open some samples to look inside but mostly I keep them as I found them. One of the problems with being interested in so many things is finding the time to do them all but it is fun doing what I can.

Keira also had questions on a geology post. Here are some possible answers...

Curious Keira Asked About Geology

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Daniel had some wonders about emus. A simple answer wouldn't have allowed me to share the information I had…

Hi Ross! I liked how you wrote each of us a comment. Thank you for sending us the animal cards because we got more wonders. What did the emus evolve from and what is the tallest bird? I wonder how the real name of the emu is pronounced. How can you tell the difference between a male emu and a female emu? If you didn’t send us the cards, I wouldn’t know that emus swim! Which continent is Polynesia on? We are so lucky that we blog with you, Ross!

Daniel, what wonderful wonders!

As can sometimes happen, a comment can lead to a post so let's see if I can answer your questions. I like challenges. 🙂

Let's work backwards through your questions.

1. Which continent is Polynesia on?

Polynesia isn't a continent. It is a collection of over 1000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. It includes Hawaii in the north, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the east, Tonga in the west and New Zealand in the south-west. The traditional people of the islands are known as Polynesian. Having heard the Maoris of New Zealand speaking their language, I have also visited Hawaii. Despite the two sets of islands being so far apart, I was able to recognise words similar to each area.  Polynesians share similarities in culture and language.

As well as Polynesia, there are two other major Pacific island groups, Micronesia and Melanesia. Melanesia includes New Guinea to  the north of Australia. Australia isn't part of these groups as it is both the world's largest island and smallest continent. The many cultures of the traditional people of Australia are very different to Micronesians, Melanesians and Polynesians.

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A Maori in traditional clothing.

2. What is the tallest bird?

The heaviest and tallest living birds are ostriches, native to Africa. They can weigh over 156kg and the males can be as tall as 2.8m. Next on the list are southern cassowaries found in northern Australia. Emus come along in 3rd place. The northern cassowary found in New Guinea comes in fourth. I have seen emus in the wild. I have only seen cassowaries and ostriches in zoos. Here is a Wikipedia link…

List of Largest Birds

When the Maoris first arrived in New Zealand (aka Aotearoa), they found a very large flightless native bird known as the moa. Look at the photo below of a reconstruction of the moa based on evidence from bones and fossils...

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I photographed this moa in New Zealand's Auckland Museum. There were nine species of moas, this being one of the largest two. They could reach about 3.6m in height and weigh about 230kg.With the emus reaching up to only about 2m, the largest moas would have towered over them.

But these weren’t the largest known birds to have ever lived. Does a bird thought to be more than 3m tall and weighing around 400kg sound big? Here a link to an extinct giant bird…     Elephant Bird

3.How can you tell the difference between male and female emus?

emu (eem-you)

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

The most important answer to this question is the birds can but let's see what I can find to help us. By looking at the photo above, I can't tell the difference between the male and female emus. They look very alike but it seems they can sound different. Males can grunt a little like a pig and, if they're caring for chicks, can whistle to their chicks whereas females make a more booming sound.

When I look at emus, I try to imagine them featherless with teeth in their beaks. When I do this, I imagine something like a dinosaur. Look at the photo of a dinosaur skeleton I photographed when at a museum in London. It has a long tail and clawed upper arms whereas  emus have a short tail and stumpy wings we don't notice because of their feathers but there are similarities such as in their feet and the way they moved. I suspect the dinosaur was a fast runner and I know emus can run at up to 50 kilometres per hour as I have been driving a car and slowed to see how fast nearby emus were running.

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 Of course, looking something alike doesn't mean they are alike. There can be similarities between very different animals simply because they need to do similar things so let's look at some ideas on the evolution of birds.

4. Where did emus evolve from?

The Evolution of Birds

For a long time people thought all of the dinosaurs died out with the great extinction caused by a large meteorite hitting Earth but we now believe this wasn’t completely so. We know the large dinosaurs couldn't survive the changes in the Earth but early mammals survived because they were small and fur covered. Fossils have shown this but what about the small dinosaurs?

I have seen information on two main types of dinosaurs...

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No, I didn't take the dinosaur photo when I was young. In 1989, I visited a dinosaur display. 🙂

the sauropods (lizard-footed) including the largest dinosaurs (one is pictured above)…   Sauropods

and the ornithopods (bird-footed)...    Ornithopods

By their names, you might think we would be looking at ornithopods but it’s the sauropods I find most interesting, as it seems these dinosaurs include the ancestors of birds.

A type of sauropod dinosaur are the therapods (beast-footed)...     Therapods

Could some dinosaurs fly?

 Look at the photos I had taken when a "DInosaurs of China" collection visited Sydney in 1983...

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This high quality fossil from China shows a winged reptile and the photo below shows a reconstruction of how they may have looked. These fliers weren't dinosaurs although many think of them as being dinosaurs. They were not the ancestors of birds.

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We had no evidence dinosaurs had feathers until a very fine fossil was found in 1861, an archaeopteryx (are-key-op-ter-ix). Look closely at the photo below and you will see the fossil below is so fine you can see feathers yet it appears to have claws on its wings. This was not the fossil of a flying reptile. If the feathers hadn't been present, it would most likely to have been thought to be a small sauropod dinosaur. After the fossil was discovered, we could see a link between the dinosaurs and birds.

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In  the photo below, you will see how the archaeopteryx might have looked. Fossils don't preserve colour so the colours are only guesses but sometimes ancient feathers have been discovered in amber and can show colour. Because feathers trapped in amber are rare, scientists can't test them without destroying them to find out more but they have been found to be very old feathers.

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Since the discovery of the archaeopteryx, more examples of fossils appearing to have feathers have been found...

Feathered dinosaurs

Scroll down the link and you will see a diagram known as a cladogram. The diagram shows a clade. Clades show an ancestor and all of its descendants sort of like a family tree humans use to show their family. Notice the ancient ancestor starts with therapods and leads to birds?

All dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, some evolved into the birds we see today.

Do any modern birds have claws?

I once wondered if any modern birds had clawed wings and the answer was no until I read about the hoatzin of South America. The hoatzin is also known as the "stinkbird" which gives us the idea it is a little smelly.

What interested me was its chicks. The chicks have two claws on each wing to help them climb around the trees where they live but they are true birds and not left over from the dinosaur days. The young lose the claws as they become adults. Below is a photo of a hoatzin chick I found on Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

This photo was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

This photo was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

The Evolution of the Emu

Science tends to classify birds into orders and into further groups within orders. For the emu, it is grouped with other ratites, or flightless birds including the ostrich, cassowary and New Zealand's moa and kiwi. In the link below, you will see another cladogram, this time of birds. The ratites come off very early on and are separate from all other birds so you could say they are closer to the first birds to have evolved.

Classification of Modern Bird Orders 

One last photo, this time a close up look at the emu's legs...

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Emus are modern birds and not dinosaurs but, when I watch them walk, I can imagine them being dinosaurs striding or running across the land perhaps being chased by a carnivorous dinosaur. What do you think?

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Hello Heather and Keira,

Firstly, let me apologise for taking two weeks to reply to your question. It has been a very busy time working on a project for a choir but I now have two weeks before the next project starts so it's time to catch up.

I now have another post for you but it may be challenging to understand some of its content. I have found the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know. Checking ideas and information for you and others when I write a post can often challenge my understanding but its by challenging ourselves to understand we can learn.

 

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Back on the "How did Earth begin?" post I tried to answer your challenge. Like all good enquiring minds, one idea can lead to another so, in the comments section, you added...

 In one of the paragraphs, we noticed that you talked about possible life on Mars. Keira thinks that over time, the sun will come too close to Earth, and Earth might shatter. That might be a possibility. There is one problem though. Martians could have died, but Mars didn’t shatter. Do you think that WE are Martians CHANGED into human?

Our minds can be a very powerful weapon against ignorance when we have curiosity and a will to find answers. This is particularly important for science as it tries to find the answers to questions. As lovers of science, your curiosity can lead you in all sorts of directions. I know mine does as I try to find answers. Let's look at a simple answer...

Do you think that WE are Martians CHANGED into human?

It's possible.

Too quick an answer?

Let's put it this way, I'm not comfortable completely ruling out many ideas. It is possible first life on Earth came from Mars but I don't think it's likely.

Here's some mind blowing maths for you. Just say you shuffled a deck of playing cards and put four down on the table...

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When you put down the first card, the chances of it being a 7 of Diamonds is 1 in 52 because there is only one 7 of Diamonds in a deck of 52 cards. To then put down a 3 of Clubs, the chances are 1 in 51 because there were 51 cards left.  For the King of Spades, it's one in 50 and, for the 10 of hearts, 1 in 49. So what is the chance of dealing just those four cards in that order from any normal deck of cards...

The chance of dealing those exact cards in that order is only 1 in 6,497,400 ... (52 x 51 x 50 x 49 = 6,497,400). It's not very likely we would get those exact four cards in that order if we shuffled and dealt four cards again but it is possible. Of course, a magician or a card trickster could cheat to get the results over and over but then the cards aren't random.

This type of maths looks at probability, i.e. chances of something happening. If we only have one card and it's the King of Clubs, the chances of dealing a King of Clubs is one in one or 100%. The chances of dealing a 7 of Diamonds is zero in one or 0% because we don't have that card. Can't maths be amazing?

For really mind blowing maths, go to the end of this post where I work out the chances of dealing out all 52 cards in an exact order, at least if I have the maths correct.

Where Did Life On Earth Come From?

I know of two main ideas for the origin of life according to science.

1. The Primordial Soup

This idea suggests billions of years ago, chemicals became concentrated (thicker) in pools of water (the primordial soup). By chance, these chemicals were able to form amino acids (the basis of life including us). In time, they combined to make more complex compounds and eventually life. This process is known as abiogenesis.

The chances of life in this way would be seen as very unlikely but, if this process is correct, it did happen. Look again at the card example in "The REALLY Mind Blowing Maths" at the end of this post. The order of cards I dealt was very unlikely but it did happen.

2. Panspermia

Some theorists suggest life might have evolved elsewhere and was brought to Earth on meteorites (Panspermia). This might be better suited to the idea life on Earth started on Mars. If life had started on Mars, a meteor strike might have thrown Mars rock into space and it may have made it to Earth but, then again, life on Earth and Mars might have come from anywhere in space. Remember, if it was life, it would have been very simple, possibly single cells, not animals like us.

No, if you watch the video clip to the end, I don't believe aliens are experimenting with us. It is possible but very unlikely. 🙂

What does Ross think?

The first idea can explain how life itself could have started, whether here or somewhere else in the universe. The second suggests how life might have made it to many places in the universe. Think of it, life might have started in many places in the universe and been spread to the stars, or at least their planets.

Did Mars Once Have Oceans and Rivers?

One of the important resources for life as we know it is liquid water. There is evidence rivers, lakes and oceans once flowed on Mars but liquid water hasn't been seen on Mars. Much of the water was probably lost to space long ago. There is plenty of evidence water as ice is found at the Martian poles and growing evidence it is to be found in the rocks and soils so life may well exist there waiting to be discovered but don't expect anything like animals running around. It's very unlikely intelligent life ever existed on Mars but is likely life did and/or does exist.

You have questioning minds so I suspect you're wondering, what happened to the Martian oceans and rivers?

Here is a video looking at the way Mars may have lost much of its atmosphere...

You may have understood the idea energy from the sun (the solar wind) caused Mars to lose most of its atmosphere so you might wonder why this didn't happen here on Earth.

Why did Earth keep its thick atmosphere while Mars lost much of its atmosphere?

Let's first look at the photo I prepared for you. It's made by placing a magnet under a piece of paper then sprinkling iron sand over the paper.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The lines you can see in the sand help us see the magnetic field of the magnet. You can see the lines run from one end to the other of the magnet. The Earth also has a magnetic field because of its rotating iron core in its centre. The iron core helps create a much stronger magnetic field than on Mars. It protects us from much of the solar wind. Think it of a little like an umbrella in the rain.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Earth's umbrella (magnetic field) is stronger than that of Mars so we get better protection. Below is a NASA diagram showing the magnetic field of Earth. If Earth's centre cooled and slowed reducing our magnetic field or solar wind became stronger, Earth would also eventually lose much of its atmosphere.

This NASA graphic was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public daomain.

This NASA graphic was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

 Keira thinks that over time, the sun will come too close to Earth, and Earth might shatter. That might be a possibility. There is one problem though. Martians could have died, but Mars didn’t shatter.

 Watch this video clip...

In this model of Earth's future, the Earth would eventually be pulled towards the sun and, in a sense, "shatter". Its matter would turn to plasma, a major part of the sun. I have shown Mars didn't lose much of its atmosphere because it shattered, it was lost because it didn't have a strong enough magnetic field to protect it in the way Earth is protected.

I found another video but it is harder for you to understand. It was made by a college student as an assignment looking at the life of the sun. At the stage where our sun becomes a red giant life would no longer be possible on Earth but we are looking billions of years into the future. In this model, it's not so much that the sun comes closer, it grows larger.

What will really happen in the Earth's future? Trying to find answers to what, how and why is the reason science is so interesting. We can observe, gather data, carry out experiments, discuss our ideas with others... When we have enough evidence, we can make an hypothesis (the next step up from an idea). If others find evidence supporting our hypothesis, it can take the next step and become a theory. Theories are the strongest ideas because they have much evidence to support them.

What's my idea about Earth's future? Perhaps when the sun starts threatening life on Earth, someone will press the reset button and the sun will return to a safer stage but that's even less likely than dealing the cards in the exact order below five times in a row. 🙂

The REALLY Mind Blowing Maths

Okay, the card maths at the beginning of this post seems mind blowing but it gave me an idea. If I was to deal out all 52 cards from a shuffled deck...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

then shuffled the cards and asked you to deal them out in that same exact order, what would the chances be of dealing all 52 cards out one at a time in exact order without cheating or using magician tricks? Here would be the calculation...

Chance of dealing all 52 cards in an exact order = 52 x 51 x 50 x 49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 45 x 44 x 43 x 42 x 41 x 40 x 39 x 38 x 37 x 36 x 35 x 34 x 33 x 32 x 31 x 30 x 29 x 28 x 27 x 26 x 25 x 24 x 23 x 22 x 21 x 20 x 19 x 18 x 17 x 16 x 15 x 14 x 13 x 12 x 11 x 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1

and what answer did I get?

The chances are one in ~80,658,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

In maths, the tilda (~) is used to mean approximately (about).

The chances of dealing all 52 cards in an exact order is so small most would think it's impossible but I had done it the first time and, by chance, you might be able to do it but it isn't very likely.   🙂

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For the students who sent me a kind gift. Here is a link to their blog...

Battalion Hawk Bloggers

Hello Battalion Hawk Bloggers,

Well, it did take some time for the parcel to arrive but, as you already know, it finally appeared. Here is what I found inside...

A clapper board to help me align video clips.

A packet of chalk so I can write on the board.

Three rock samples bearing fossils.

Just by chance, later the same day your parcel arrived I had a phone call. I was asked if I was willing to video the opening performance of the Candelo Village Festival. I agreed and realised I had the chance to use the clapper board very soon after receiving it.

This also presented me with another idea, I had a blog where little had been posted as I didn't have a strong use for it. I cleared away some old posts, some of which ended up on this blog because they were my earliest extended comments. After reorganising the layout and content,  I renamed it...

Exploring Ideas: How to and why… A look at blogging, graphics and activities

The idea is to use this blog when I explain how or why I do things the way I do. I left two posts from March, 2012 because they looked at how to write a googol (special number where 1 is followed by 100 zeroes) and how I approach writing a story, particularly long ones.

Your gift gave me an idea for the first post made especially for the blog. It tells how I used the clapper board. I have included a video clip I made for you showing me use the clapper board to mark the film position. I also included 15 seconds of a performance so you can hear a little of my experience on the evening of Friday (April 12).

The people have been deliberately blurred for privacy reasons. You will not have heard the song before as the music festival opening included original works by local composer/musicians. Here is the link to the first real "How to and Why" post...

Aligning Video Clips

Now, let's look at the rocks you sent. There were the three stones and something sounding fossil-like. I'll explain shortly...

 Crinoid or Corallite Fossils?

 

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Both suggestions people made through Twitter seem reasonable and both types of creatures still exit in our oceans today. Of the two choices, I would favour crinoid-like fossils but, remember, I am not an expert so this is only my opinion. There is a third option I might add soon. Let's look at the two choices...

Corallite

(Wikipedia reference: Scleractinia )

This is a Wikimedia Commons image of one type of hard coral taken by Nhobgood

Corallite, if I have my information correct, is the fossilised remains of stony corals. When you look at photos, you can see they are well formed, rock-like structures so I would expect fossils of them to include a more regular pattern than in the samples you sent (see the photo below). Of course, it is also possible what you see in the rocks are broken bits of coral cemented together in the way sedimentary rocks can form.

 

Below is a photo of a piece of coral I found washed up on the shore in Queensland. It came from the Great Barrier Reef. Can you see the pattern of openings where coral polyps once lived?

 

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Crinoid

(Wikipedia reference: Crinoid )

This is a Wikimedia Commons image of one type of crinoid taken by Alexander Vesanin

Crinoids tend to have small tube-like structures that could be what we see in the stones. There have been some beautiful, almost complete crinoid fossils found. What you see could also be the remains of small shellfish, i.e. their shells (see the photo below). I don't know what rocks are native to your area but, whatever, the stones you sent will now take their place in my rocks and minerals collection. They are my first from Canada. 🙂

Below is a rock I picked up on a beach. You can see, like the samples you sent, it has been rounded by water action. Can you see the shell fossils embedded in it? In these cases, you can see the shell was from spiral shell type similar to ones I sometimes find washed up on our beaches.

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Did I say "something sounding fossil-like" back there? I'll explain.

You know my mind tends to wander in many directions and this is what happened when I saw the packet of chalk. The question came to mind, "What is chalk?" I thought I would share my answer with you.

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Location: Dover, England

I took the above photo when I was in Dover in England. It shows the famous White Cliffs of Dover. The cliffs are chalk but what exactly is chalk?

 

Here is a quote from Wikipedia...

"Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates (coccoliths) shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores."

(Wikipedia Reference: Chalk )

What this means is chalk has formed under the ocean from the remains of algae so tiny you would need a microscope to examine them properly. Can you imagine the cliffs of chalk in the above photo would have involved many billions of these tiny organisms over a very long time?

Is this the same chalk you sent? While it could be, much of the blackboard chalk manufactured today is made from a stone called gypsum. Below is a photo of gypsum from my collection. This particular piece is known as rose gypsum because of its appearance. (It is shown glued onto a shell for display.)

 

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What was the third option for the stones you sent?

I can be a very curious person when seeing something interesting. This is what happened when I was looking at the rocks.

I suspected I might not be looking at fossils in rock at all so I broke open the smallest piece of stone so I could examine its centre. I found the stone was made of small crystals. Below is a graphic showing four photos I took of one of the pieces of the small stone. Can you see the shine of the small crystals?

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Now I was really curious because I suspected the stone wasn't fossil bearing sedimentary rock. I thought it might actually be igneous rock, i.e. volcanic rock. I spent more time searching my rocks and minerals books and the internet. I think I might have found what the stones could be. I think they might be diabase (aka dolerite).

Below is a reference for diabase. Visit the site and look at their photo of diabase. Tell me what you think.

Diabase

Of course, I could be completely wrong but it is fun to try to find answers even if they're sometimes wrong. We can learn from both right and wrong answers if we keep our minds open.

* * * * * * * * * *

I just had an afterthought on rereading this post and thought I'd share. When I broke open the small rock and looked inside, I realised I was the first person to have ever seen what's inside that particular stone and now I'm able to share what I found. In your lives, you will have many first person experiences. Will you recognise them when you do? I wonder if that makes us all curiosity explorers a little like early explorers seeing somewhere for the first time?

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To view Global Grade 3′s original post, click below…

Global Grade 3

The following photos were taken because if a promise in a comment I left.

Hello Global Grade 3,

I promised to photograph and share fossils in my rock collection so here they are. There is nothing too spectacular, not even a single dinosaur although I have something connected to them. You'll find some links on the names of the samples if you want to find out more.

Ammonite

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Ammonite this time it has been cut to show the inside,

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DInosaur coprolite from U.S.A.. Coprolites are fossilised animal droppings.

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Fossilised leaf. I gathered this at a rock fall. I found it when out hiking.

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Petrified wood.

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More petrified wood.

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 Trilobite

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 Trilobite

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Kauri wood. This is not a fossil. A kauri log was found in a swamp in New Zealand. It was tested and found to be around 44,500 years old but looks as though it was freshly cut. The quality of the wood and the lack of oxygen in the swampy waters probably protected it.

 

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Shell. This is also not a fossil. The shell was found in a quarry in South Australia. The rocks are thought to be about 30,000 years old.

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Another shell from the same rock deposit.

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Tree fossil. It seems to have come from rock about 220 million years old. If you can see the blacker colour on the front of this fossil, that's coal formed from the original tree. I suspect the tree was covered perhaps because of flood. In time the wood was replaced by minerals. You can see it's reasonably large.

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