The Journey of a Fossil

One hundred million years ago, an ammonoid lived in the sea that then separated India from Asia. It died and fell into limy sediments on the seafloor. These sediments grew deeper and hardened into rock. The shell calcified, becoming part of the rock, though maintaining every detail of its structure. India was on the move, drifting on a slab of the Earth's mobile crust toward Asia. The floor of the intervening sea was forced under the Asian continent, back into the hot interior of the planet. As it descended, some of the limestone sediments were scraped off and piled against the overlying continent. Meanwhile, about sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid smashed into the Earth, possibly near the tip of the present Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The place of impact was far from India and Asia, but the effects of the catastrophe were global. A vast quantity of dust was hurled into the atmosphere. Winds carried the dust worldwide, wrapping the planet in a dark shroud that sunlight could not penetrate. Temperatures fell. Photosynthesis ceased. Food chains collapsed. The calamity caused the dinosaurs to become extinct. But dinosaurs were not the only victims. Huge numbers of other plant and animal species perished, both on land and in the sea. Not least among them were the ammonoids. This wildly successful family of creatures disappeared from the Earth. Only in the rocks did their images survive. About fifty million years ago, the sea separating India and Asia was at last squeezed out of existence, and the continents collided. A double-thickness continent w^as heaved upward, creating the high Himalayan Plateau. Among the crumpled rocks of the plateau were scraped-off sediments from the vanished seafloor Some of these fossiliferous limestones were lifted to the peaks of the highest mountains, miles above sea level. Throughout all of this violence, my ammonoid slept, secure in its stony dreams. The violent hand of crustal motion lifted the rock from out of its limy matrix, held it to its mountainous ear, shook it, and rattled it. Water caressed it, whispering questions. Fish came to knock and listen. The stone was silent, unperturbed.


Chet Raymo describes the epic journey of a fossil from the bottom of the ocean to the top of a mountain.

Folksonomies: wonder fossile

/pets/reptiles (0.522000)
/food and drink/food/fast food (0.447399)
/travel/tourist destinations/africa (0.401147)

Fossil Chet Raymo (0.937993 (negative:-0.349634)), present Yucatan Peninsula (0.846149 (neutral:0.000000)), double-thickness continent w^as (0.830042 (neutral:0.000000)), wildly successful family (0.824977 (neutral:0.000000)), high Himalayan Plateau (0.823331 (neutral:0.000000)), limy sediments (0.770320 (negative:-0.447028)), limestone sediments (0.740050 (negative:-0.332398)), scraped-off sediments (0.699150 (neutral:0.000000)), Asian continent (0.676662 (negative:-0.298121)), epic journey (0.662870 (negative:-0.349634)), fossiliferous limestones (0.658409 (neutral:0.000000)), mobile crust (0.652048 (neutral:0.000000)), hot interior (0.645860 (neutral:0.000000)), dark shroud (0.644768 (negative:-0.598672)), vast quantity (0.643758 (positive:0.419162)), crumpled rocks (0.640367 (neutral:0.000000)), Food chains (0.638638 (negative:-0.380218)), crustal motion (0.629335 (negative:-0.486781)), animal species (0.628322 (negative:-0.205837)), Huge numbers (0.627252 (negative:-0.205837)), mountainous ear (0.621802 (negative:-0.270613)), sea (0.618866 (negative:-0.394177)), stony dreams (0.618388 (positive:0.556548)), sea level (0.618084 (neutral:0.000000)), violent hand (0.617009 (negative:-0.486781)), highest mountains (0.615356 (neutral:0.000000)), limy matrix (0.602146 (negative:-0.486781)), India (0.587681 (negative:-0.490232)), seafloor (0.530073 (negative:-0.447028)), Earth (0.529765 (negative:-0.378574))

Asia:Continent (0.846182 (negative:-0.490232)), India:Country (0.765645 (negative:-0.490232)), Chet Raymo:Person (0.520431 (negative:-0.349634)), Himalayan Plateau:GeographicFeature (0.498516 (neutral:0.000000)), Yucatan Peninsula:GeographicFeature (0.376847 (neutral:0.000000)), Mexico:Country (0.342259 (neutral:0.000000)), One hundred million years:Quantity (0.342259 (neutral:0.000000)), sixty-five million years:Quantity (0.342259 (neutral:0.000000)), fifty million years:Quantity (0.342259 (neutral:0.000000))

Asia (0.970040): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Ocean (0.798619): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Earth (0.783993): dbpedia | freebase
Sedimentary rock (0.710016): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Atmosphere (0.674531): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Geology (0.667336): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Fossil (0.647620): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Paleontology (0.637402): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Natural prayers
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Raymo , Chet (1999-07-15), Natural prayers, Ruminator Books, Retrieved on 2012-04-14
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: nature


    12 JUN 2011

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