As you may recall, a week or two ago there was a heated scene in our kitchen between my daughter and her parents regarding the future of a rather extraordinary (in my daughter’s opinion) wishbone extracted from a rather ordinary (in my opinion) rotisserie chicken. On learning that scientists believe that the wishbone may be evidence of a link between dinosaurs and modern birds, my daughter very naturally wanted to add the wishbone to her collection.
My husband objected. “Bones have no place in this house. Unless they are fossils.”
After which my daughter very naturally wanted to know how long she had to wait. “Daddyo, how long will it take for my wishbone to fossilize?”
When he read about the spat, an old friend from San Antonio pointed me to a 2001 article by Kenneth Carpenter of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science entitled “How to Make a Fossil: Part 1 – Fossilizing Bone.” In his article Carpenter defines fossils as “the remains or traces of an organism older than 10,000 years.” Anything younger than that is apparently merely a sub-fossil.
My daughter was extremely disconcerted to hear this. “That’s even older than Mommyo!”
But she is nothing if not an agile negotiator. Quickly grasping that turning her wishbone into a fossil would never do, my little Caterpickle immediately switched tactics to begin lobbying for us to make a plaster cast of her wishbone before throwing it out.
Sadly, at the time I was not in the habit of keeping a supply of plaster of Paris in the house. So we had to settle for a Caterpickles’ agreement to make a proper plaster cast of the next wishbone that made its way into our house. Sounds like a perfect post-Thanksgiving turkey project to me.
- The Hypothetical Wishbone: A Caterpickles Fable (caterpickles.com)
- Archaeopteryx Knocked From Roost as Original Bird (wired.com)
- How to Make a Fossil: Part 1 – Fossilizing Bone (The Journal of Paleontological Sciences)