Saturday, January 3, 2009


Paleontology is an avocation to me, with a particular focus on Elasmobranchii, the subclass of cartilaginous fishes that includes sharks and rays. At this stage, it’s a fairly consuming one. Having just emerged from this holiday season, I recognize that an avocation is a gift to those who searching for presents. What better connection to the gift receiver.

I have spread out before me, a t-shirt awash with images of vicious sharks, a package of wild cherry Gummy Sharks (delicious? . . . you first), a Shark Jacks game (the jacks in the shape of circling sharks), and a packet labeled “Grow Your Own Dinosaurs” (just drop the little rubbery creatures into water and they expand to 6 times their initial size – the packet goes for the more impressive “600%” increase in size). All fun things prompting lots of smiles and laughter. Missing is the wide-brimmed hat intended to protect fair skin from sun. This great gift had to be returned – curse of a big head.

Then there is the packet of small animal fossils. Mostly from Millard County, Utah, none is Elasmobranchii, so they aren’t what I have spent much time collecting, not that the giver of the gift should have known that. Still, the new paths these fossils offer me are what make them a special gift.

Among them is this small piece of Wheeler Shale from Millard County, Utah, dotted with very small Peronopsis interstrictus trilobites, well, mostly pieces or impressions. Still a piece of the middle Cambrian given as a gift. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

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