Friday, September 14, 2007

Trilobites and Other Big Bites

Trilobites and Fossilized Shark TeethA package came in the mail a few weeks ago. We were eating dinner when the doorbell rang and the postman handed me a very large, very heavy, very floppy manila envelope.

"I want to open it!"

"What is it?"

"Who's it from?"

Questions were flying and when the kids saw that it was from their Uncle Luke that just fueled their curiosity and desire to be the first to open the package.

Uncle Luke has taken them fishing and metal-detecting, sent them giant seashells from Chincoteague Island, made them an authentic squirrel trap (that actually caught one very angry, very Incredible Hulk-like squirrel but that's another story). Yes, when Uncle Luke is involved the fun never stops so anything he sends must be good.

The kids tore open the package and inside were lots of little packages. As they opened each one they found the results of Luke's latest obsession: fossil hunting. He lives in Arlington, Virginia and he and his lovely wife, Becca had sent some of their latest finds.

There was a piece of aeptastrea marylandica (coral), a placopecten clintonius (clam) and devonochonetes cronatus (lampshells) if you're up on your Latin nomenclature. The clam shell was reportedly around five million years old but while resting beautifully in the earth for so many eons failed to survive the United States Postal Service and was in tiny pieces--that's irony for you.

But the best part was yet to come: fossilized shark teeth. Because sharks are cool. Because shark teeth are even cooler and fossilized shark teeth that are 24 million years old, now THAT'S cool. He'd also kindly included some fossilized bone remnants from marine mammals of the same era and then . . . THEN . . . he'd sent five trilobite fossils he'd found in Delta, Utah that were 500 million years old. Yes, my brother is it.

The kids finished unwrapping the fossils until our dinner table was nothing but a dusty, crumbly excavation site, making our pasta very crunchy. After the last package had been unwrapped I looked in the envelope to see if we'd missed anything and there were two folded sheets of paper that were his field notes identifying each item. I turned over the last sheet and found written in large, scrawling letters, "For you, Michelle. Love, Luke"

I smiled as a gasp went up from the table when the kids realized that he'd sent the package to me and that I ultimately owned all the fossils. They glanced at the rocks and teeth in their hands and looked at me with these sad, puppy-dog eyes and I savored the moment before telling them that I'd love to share my wonderful fossils with them. We divided them up and everyone was thrilled. Dinner was forgotten for the moment and we were all paleontologists at a dig.

So what has happened to our collection? Well I've kept a few of the best pieces inside for display (did you know that if you water down Elmer's glue and brush it over the fossil it will help protect the delicate rock and make the fossil more easy to see?) and the rest we've hidden in fun corners of the garden as decorations. We decided that if five million years from now Anchorage is excavated we're going to throw everyone off when they discover these unusual fossil findings that previously had only been thought to exist in Utah. That will confuse them for sure.

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28 comments:

la bellina mammina said...

Really cool! My boys would love something like those too.

Shalee said...

My favorite part of this entire post is that your brother loves you and shows it. That's the true treasure to be cherished for the years to come...

Mary Alice said...

What a fantastic gift to recieve. What a great brother! And how cool to get something that isn't available at Wal Mart!

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

REAL FOSSILS? Whooooooooa.

Heather said...

i always wanted to find a fossil. even an arrow head. living in south eastern pennsylvania makes that difficult. the river was used at a dump in colonial times, so we do sometimes go bottle hunting.

Babystepper said...

Now that is one cool uncle! It's a good thing your kids have so much fun with you guys, or they'd be asking to move to Arlington with Uncle Luke.

Fossils are great. I use to have an egg carton full, but every time we moved there were less and less that I wanted to take with me. Now I have only a few crinoids left. I can't say it's been a huge gulf in my life, but I'm sure I'll wish I'd saved them as my kids grow.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

So very cool!

Maya used to be really into Trilobites...when she was in 2nd grade, I think, she studied them for the science fair at her school. My SIL came for a visit (from Juneau, actually) and they sat together and made a stuffed trilobite. Maya decided it was a girl, and named her 'Elizabeth'. Isn't that a hoot?

A few years later, my brother and SIL went to Scotland on vacation, and they sent Maya a tiny trilobite, which she cherishes.

Thanks for sharing your booty with us as well as your children!

Lisa said...

Cool! And what a great brother!

G's Cottage said...

Cool trilobite. Ohio's state fossil is the trilobite genus Isoletus. One over 14 inches was found in 1919 while building a flood control dam. The local park district has a fossil stream where children can search for small specimens.

Average Jane said...

Awesome! I keep swearing to myself that I'm going to go on a dig vacation while I'm still young enough to grub around on the ground and still be able to straighten up afterward.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

You guys do the coolest things!

soccer mom in denial said...

How wonderful that your brother sent them to you. YOU! And how wonderful you were gracious enough to share them with those adorable children.

Getting fossils in the mail is just too cool.

Trenting said...

Uncle Luke is quite possibly the coolest Uncle ever..

That is great and wonderful for your children to experience..

Anonymous said...

Here's a way to remember the 'lay & lie' correctly. You will LAY the pieces in your garden and then LIE down next to it. Laura B.

Heather said...

If this isn't a HUGE coincidence! Matthew found a trilobite (very much like yours), some shark teeth and some amber this summer and he took the trilobite in to school today. His teacher was discussing trilobites and he offered to show his to the class. His is also about 500 million years old. I printed some pages from the internet for him to take in as well.
I can't wait to show him this post! Thanks for the glue tip. We'll be doing that soon, I'm sure.
Can you give Uncle Luke my address??? PLEASE! :o)

Marie N. said...

Now that's mail! I got bills and catalogs today.

We've made fossils with modeling foam and seashells. The real thing is so much cooler :-)

Daisy said...

Is that a trilobite fossil in the top piece? It sure looks like one in the picture.

Stephanie said...

How fun! And what a good mother you are to share with them. Sounds like leverage to be used later to me! Ha!

chelle said...

Too cool! We were just looking at replicas at a museum gift shop!

my4kids said...

Fossils are cool and I think the picture in my head of finding fossils that were supposed to be in Utah in Anchorage is to funny.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

hi michelle:
totally enjoyed reading your post. i felt like i was right here with your family digging in and opening this find. i love it when you write like this. yes, your brother IS it.

hope your saturday is great,
kathleen :)

Summer said...

I got to participate in a fossil dig in southern Germany a long time ago.
I still have a piece in a rock collection I started 11 years ago.

Queen of Dysfunction said...

I've been to Anchorage, Alaska and loved the place and now (thanks to Blondie) I've been to the happenin' blog too.

I love you. No really. It's love.

Amber said...

Confuse them for sure, eh? Maybe that's what really happened with all those finds in Egypt. :-)

allrileyedup said...

I laughed for a long time over "that's irony for you." Darn post office.

Lei said...

Ah, this really takes me back... to a 5th grade paper on trilobites!

The Not Quite Crunchy Parent said...

Great post- My Ds is very into fossils right now!

JAM said...

When I was a wee lad in science class, the pictures of trilobytes used to freak me out. Too weird for me.

Years later I move to Florida and encounter the horseshoe crab, equally as creepy. Way too bug-like for this ol' boy.

This was a great story. Luke sounds like a fun guy to know. The ones that kids like best are the adults that never quite grew up themselves.