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537 Views 2 Replies Last post: Oct 1, 2011 12:29 PM by Luanne - former Museum ID team member RSS
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Oct 1, 2011 12:30 PM

Answered: Help ! Is this a fossil?

Hi there , can anyone tell me if the creature on this rock is a fossil ? It,s on my local beach on the mull of kintyre near southend . I may be totally wrong but i think it may be . I,ve been puzzled by it for several years . It looks like a reptile with the tail of a dolphin , and is about 2.5 feet long . Thanks , otterspotter.

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    Oct 1, 2011 12:29 PM (in response to otterspotter)
    Re: Help ! Is this a fossil?

    Hi there,

     

    I can totally see why you though this might be a dolphin-like creature from the shape but I am afraid that it is not a fossil. The shape is entirely coincidental and I think formed from the way the rock has weathered. You have to bare in mind that fossils are (with rare exceptions fossilised in unusual conditions) the remains of the hard parts of organisms such as the bones or shells, as soft parts are fragile and are destroyed before they can become fossils so when looking for fossils that you are looking for fossilised bones etc and not a resemblance to the overall shape of an animal including soft parts when it was alive. Soft parts are only preserved in very rare circumstances and would not look like this.

     

    One name for such coincidental resemblences is pseudofossils and they are very common enquiries. You can find more examples of pseudofossils on my blog: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/community/identification/blog/2011/05/24/im-afraid-its-not-a-fossil-my-favourite-pseudofossil-ids

     

    If this has sparked your interest, then the best way to get a sense of what fossils look like is by looking at lots of them in a museum or online if this is not possible. Better luck next time!

     

    Luanne

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