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15 April 2019
In 2009, a thief broke into England’s Tring Museum and stole hundreds of curated bird skins. The thief was a talented American musician attending school in London. He broke apart specimens collected by Alfred Russel Wallace and Lionel Walter Rothschild and sold the feathers to men who tie salmon flies (originally for fishing, but now an art form in its own right). The story of this crime is well documented by an author who became obsessed with solving the case of the missing birds.
13 October 2017
Happy Friday! Here’s a sample from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in DC: As the label says, we have a nice example of ptygmatic (“intestine like”) buckle folding here. It comes from Finland. The coarse equigranular crystals in the vein appear to be mainly potassium feldspar and quartz. The surrounding matrix has a pronounced foliation. Note the cuspate “flames” of matrix between the broad “lobes” of folded …
4 August 2017
It’s Friday and that means “fold time” here at Mountain Beltway. Today, we feature a trio of samples on display in the halls of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico.
11 January 2017
Since I showed off the 3D kimberlite intrusion breccias yesterday, I feel as if I owe you some other photos from that lovely exhibit at the IGC. I apologize for the poor quality of these photos – the gorgeous samples were behind glass and brightly lit, which made photography difficult. But the rocks are sooooooooo pretty, I think you’ll enjoy viewing them just the same. Let’s start with a gargantuan …
28 September 2016
One of the small sub-projects of my 2015-2017 Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship is to create some GIGAmacro images of cool fossil specimens from the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville. Curator of paleontology Alex Hastings was good enough to loan us a few specimens to image, and hopefully there will soon be more where they came from. Here are three examples: a fossil plant, and two fossil vertebrates: Strobilus cone …
8 January 2015
The other fossil I saw at the eclectic and haphazardly-curated Strasburg Museum was this stromatolite. Top view: Side view: Probably this comes from the Cambrian-aged Conococheague Formation, although the Beekmantown Formation (early Ordovician) is another possibility.
7 January 2015
My friend and colleague Lauren Michel, the King Family Fellow at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, sent me this image from her recent trip to Antarctica: (click to enlarge) This is a beautiful example of a mafic igneous sill, probably of the rock known as “dolerite” (or diabase, to us Yanks). Lauren and I think it must be part of the Ferrar Large Igneous Province. …
5 January 2015
My family and I went to the Strasburg Museum in Strasburg, Virginia, last fall, because (1) we’ve lived out here for two and a half years now without stopping in, and we felt “overdue” for checking it out, and (2) a big train is prominently featured out front, and my son is really keen on trains right now due to the “Thomas the Tank Engine” series of books. I don’t …
5 December 2012
Slightly annotated photo of a Permian therapsid skull on display in the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. Another photo of this same skull is here. This reptile needs an orthodontist.
27 November 2012
Good lighting on these fossils at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, eh? You’ve got a batch of brachiopods mixed with crinoid columnals and little cornucopia-shaped rugose corals. Maybe some sponge spicules in there, too… This is a great rock because (a) it’s full of well-preserved fossils in a fine-grained matrix, and (b) it’s been weathered so that the fossils poke out in high relief. But the way the …