• Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

Mysterious Cases of Living Fossils, Suspended Animation, and Hibernation


Sep 20, 2022

Everyone knows that fossils, by their very nature, are lifeless. In fact, nothing can survive the circumstances of stress, depth and time required to petrify wooden, see saplings mature into huge timber, transmogrify vegetation into coal or metamorphose mud into strong rock. Nonetheless, residing creatures seemingly from remotest antiquity hold turning up encased in stone from far beneath Earth’s floor, embedded inside strong tree trunks and in different conditions defying each purpose and the gospel of the Nice God Science.

Dwelling Fossils Story #1: Historical Wormhole Mine

One such case occurred April 22, 1881, when miner Joe Molino was working deep within the Vast West Mine outdoors Ruby Hill, Nevada. When he wedged unfastened a protruding hunk of stone from the tunnel wall it landed on his foot. Enraged, he grabbed a sledgehammer and smashed it to bits. Molino was shocked to see his hammer blow had uncovered a baseball-sized cavity within the rock. It was half stuffed with immobile white  worms.

As a crowd of quizzical miners gathered to view the bizarre artifacts the worms started to maneuver. Inside an hour they have been crawling round on the ground of the  tunnel.

Mine operators despatched the worms (whose species apparently was by no means decided) and their strong stone sarcophagus to the U.S. Bureau of Mines. A number of weeks later the bureau despatched the mine operators a letter declaring they will need to have been mistaken. Because it clearly is not possible for creatures to have survived underneath the circumstances described, so far as the bureau was involved there was no method the incident may have occurred.

In 1892 an ore nugget present in an Arizona mine was discovered to include a lifeless beetle from which emerged a reside beetle: is {that a} residing fossil or what? ( wectorcolor / Adobe Inventory)

Dwelling Fossils Story #2: Beetle Awe

But extra scientific thriller was brewing within the American West when, someday in 1892, a big beetle was discovered encased in a piece of iron ore within the Longfellow Mine outdoors Clifton, Arizona. The ore nugget and its lifeless inhabitant have been turned over to El Paso geologist Z. T. White, who positioned the insect in a specimen case. A number of days later he was shocked to see the creature transfer. Watching by a magnifying glass White noticed a small  beetle emerge from the physique of the bigger, lifeless one. He positioned the small beetle in a jar the place it lived for a number of months. When it died, he introduced it, the bigger beetle and the lump of ore to the  Smithsonian Institution , the place they might stay to this present day.

Dwelling Fossils Story #3: A Load of Bullfrog

Because the overwhelming majority of  fossils are buried, it’s predictable that mines are the principle supply of mysterious zoological artifacts. In 1873, miners on the Black Diamond Coal Mine outdoors San Francisco discovered a big frog encased in  limestone.

This frequent (however venerable) bullfrog was apparently blind, and capable of slowly transfer only one leg. After a number of hours on the floor, it died. The frog and its entombing stone got to the San Francisco Academy of Sciences, the place its survival of what would appear an not possible stretch of time continues to defy understanding.

But not all residing fossils are present in stone or ore.

Once in 1893 in Ontario, Canada a live toad emerged from deep inside a tree trunk! (Volodymyr Shevchuk / Adobe Stock)

As soon as in 1893 in Ontario, Canada a reside toad emerged from deep inside a tree trunk! ( Volodymyr Shevchuk  / Adobe Inventory)

Dwelling Fossils Story #4: Would you consider it?

In October 1893 workmen on the Brown and Corridor Sawmill in Ontario, Canada have been utilizing a round noticed to chop a big  tree trunk  into planks when the blade sliced by a cavity containing (and virtually lower in two) a reside toad imprisoned squarely in the course of the tree trunk. The tree was about 200 years previous, and the spherical, completely clean gap wherein the amphibian was entombed was about 60 ft (18 meters) above the bottom. The  toad tumbled from its picket jail and hopped away, seemingly none the more severe for its lengthy confinement.

One other report of a reside toad in a gap comes from England. In 1829 large  granite blocks  that had shaped a submerged footing underneath the docks of Liverpool’s George’s Basin have been being lower into small chunks to be made into steps. Throughout one of many cuts, the stone noticed revealed a bit gap in the course of a block, and a toad inside it.

Staff gently enlarged the outlet to free its occupant, and the  amphibian made a number of futile makes an attempt to get to its ft. A number of hours later, after attempting one final time to imagine its regular crouching place, the toad sank to the pavement and died. A number of scientists who later examined the small corpse confessed they have been at a loss to elucidate how the animal may have been discovered alive underneath such airless, foodless and waterless circumstances. One among these realized males took the lifeless animal residence with him, and it was by no means seen once more. It was not the primary or final not possible fossil yielded by Britain.

Dwelling Fossils Story #5: Newt Information

In 1818 skilled geologist Dr. E.D. Clark, who taught at Caius School in Cambridge, Scotland, was current on the digging of a pit on a good friend’s property when the workmen hit a layer of animated fossils. As one of many staff was breaking apart a big chunk of chalk stone into smaller items so that they may very well be faraway from the outlet he discovered three newts embedded within the rock. Clarke positioned them within the brilliant  sunlight and was stupefied once they started to maneuver. Two of them died later within the day, and for years he exhibited them to his college students throughout his lectures on prehistory. He positioned the third newt in a close-by brook, and it “skipped and twisted about as if it had by no means been lethargic,” and escaped, he later stated. Clarke was by no means capable of establish the species to which the newts belonged.

Upon Clarke’s retirement he donated the preserved newts to the college’s biology division, the place, for many years, different professors displayed them throughout lectures. Throughout the chaos of the 1940 Nazi bombing blitz these pickled specimens turned up lacking. Except they have been blown to atoms by a Luftwaffe bomb, they might stay someplace inside Cambridge College, forgotten and nonetheless unexplained.

This is a fossil of a flying dinosaur, a Pterodactylus antiquus, and a close cousin of this species was apparently still alive in France in the 1850s according to newspaper reports at the time. (Daderot / Public domain)

It is a fossil of a flying dinosaur, a Pterodactylus antiquus, and an in depth cousin of this species was apparently nonetheless alive in France within the 1850s in keeping with newspaper stories on the time. (Daderot /  Public domain )

Dwelling Fossils Story #6: Shades of the Jurassic

Probably the most unbelievable discover of a residing fossil is that reported by the  Illustrated London Occasions  of February 9, 1856. The incident occurred in France throughout the development of a railway tunnel between the cities of Nancy and St. Dizier. In response to the article, staff have been breaking apart an enormous boulder when a goose-sized monster staggered from a freshly uncovered cavity and screeched hoarsely earlier than falling lifeless. It had a protracted beak, sharp enamel, 4 legs joined by membranes, and ft with lengthy hooked talons. Its flesh was oily and shiny black.

The mysterious carcass was taken to a paleontologist who immediately acknowledged the animal as a  Pterodactylus anas,  a denizen of the  Jurassic Period , which ended 135 million years in the past. There isn’t a file of whether or not the physique was preserved and nonetheless exists.


Sure animals’ capacity to reside lengthy stretches with out sustenance is feasible through hibernation to flee the lean, hostile circumstances of winter. As a result of their metabolisms are conditioned to arouse them upon the appearance of the heat and renewed meals provides of springtime, they’re seldom in suspended animation for greater than 4 or 5 months. What would possibly occur if spring by no means arrived? What if their hibernation dens have been to be buried by glaciers and/or metamorphose into rock?

Southern Methodist College professor of biology Dr. John Ubelaker, Ph.D. factors out that many organisms possess the power to decrease their metabolisms, and that this operate is commonly triggered by environmental circumstances. This allows survival by tough instances.

“It is a frequent phenomenon amongst many free-living  nematodes which have the power to kind a resting stage–dauer larvae–in order to outlive a aggravating scenario,” he says. “In these nematodes the power to regulate water and water loss is vital, and a number of other metabolic-biochemical processes function.”

Nematodes that have come to life are perhaps the most incredible living fossils. A colorized electron micrograph of a soybean cyst nematode and egg. (Agricultural Research Service / Public domain)

Nematodes which have come to life are maybe essentially the most unbelievable residing fossils. A colorized electron micrograph of a soybean cyst nematode and egg. (Agricultural Analysis Service /  Public domain )

In his 1863 ebook  Historical past of the Supernatural  famous British writer and scientist William Hewitt recounted a midsummer incident he had personally witnessed a number of years earlier wherein workmen in Nottinghamshire, England have been digging a ditch and unearthed what he referred to as “an everyday stratum of frogs.” The creatures weren’t solely alive, however so animated all of them hopped away.

He described the layer of mud that had held the frogs as “stiff as butter,” and primarily based on the time of 12 months and his examination of the bottom the place they have been buried, he estimated they’d been there not less than six months. As he requested his readers, “If these frogs may reside six months on this practically strong casing of viscous mud, why not six or any variety of years?”

Ubelaker expands upon this premise:

“An attention-grabbing truth of life is that an organism’s construction and composition can stay just about the identical although it constantly takes in vitamins and produces wastes. Typically outlined as a dynamic equilibrium, life permits concentrations of the combination of the supplies in an organism to stay fixed although particular person molecules are continually shifting again and forth, growing or reducing in a short while scale,” he says. “Do not forget that an organism at equilibrium is lifeless. A standard classroom comparability is commonly made with a river and the regular state situation of organisms–the river maintains the identical degree and form although water is continually flowing by it. Rivers rise and alter course, drop to low ranges relying on the accessible water, however at anyone level it (and its focus of supplies) stays fairly fixed. In organisms the construction, proteins, nucleic acid, lipids keep comparatively fixed although nobody molecule stays in any pool for lengthy.”

The erratic and odd sides of the pure world remind us of how a lot we nonetheless should study Mom Earth and the processes that govern her and her multitude of kids. There are likely many extra residing relics of the primordial previous awaiting exhumation. Once they do come to mild, they need to be studied meticulously to be able to confirm how they survived such extremes of time, temperature and deprivation. The potential for harmlessly subjecting human beings to suspended animation may clear up issues of surviving prolonged house journey, awaiting the return of family members from the celebrities, outlasting terminal sicknesses till cures are found, or just staying alive lengthy sufficient to fulfill one’s great-great-great-grandchildren. Earlier than we are able to even begin on such grand aspirations, nevertheless, we should admit this probably priceless course of exists.

Prime picture: Frog brooch of amber and bronze on a rock, consultant of residing fossils.    Supply:  ISliM / Adobe Inventory

By Kelly Bell


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