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Fossil Folklore

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Cliffs in Denmark from which fossil echinoids can be collected
A local tribesman and Indian palaeontologist Dr Ramesh Badve sitting on an outcrop of Bagh Beds containing fossil echinoids referred to by the tribesman as punchu khada

World folklore

The Danes held a different point of view, suggesting that fossil echinoids originated from the heavens in the form of thunderstones and if placed in the home could act as protection against lightening and also as charms against various forms of witchcraft (Bassett 1982). Oakley (1974) related one of Christian Blinkenberg's stories in which a school teacher recollected his childhood: 'Only when a crashing thunderclap followed the lightening did we think a stone had fallen, and it was precisely its fall and great speed which produced the crashing sound.' Natives of North Slesvig kept fossil echinoids in the home to predict storms, as the fossils were said to sweat before a storm.

Blinkenberg also stated that '...the fossils were laid on shelves in the pantry as they kept the milk fresh and caused plenty of cream.' In parts of southern England, fossil sea-urchins were also believed to prevent milk from turning sour and were placed on dairy shelves (Oakley 1974).

Around the small town of Bagh in the Narmada Valley of central India, many fossils are abundant found in the Cretaceous Bagh Beds, including striking echinoid specimens. Local tribal people refer to these fossil echinoids as punchu khada, meaning 'five stone,' a reflection of the five radiating ambulacral rays on the fossils' surface (Taylor, 2000).

Eurhodia matleyi is found in west-central Jamaica around Stettin where it can be abundant on bedding planes of the Eocene Yellow Limestone Group. This sea urchin is referred to as a lucky stones because of the distinctive star-shaped pattern of the ambulacra (S. K. Donovan, pers. comm, July 2003).