Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trilobites redux mea culpa, ipso facto

As readers -- if there are any -- of this thing know, I am very partial to trilobite fossils.

The first ones I acquired were at the Peabody Museum. An Elrathia Kingii,  I believe, a few Ptychagnostuses, (they're small), and a bunch of Diacalymenes, many of which are found in Morocco. 

 Then I had to have more. A giant Phacops, from I don't remember which store. These shops are around if you look for them.  Many of the fossils were scratched as only Moroccans can scratch them. I bought them anyway.

As I became more serious, I acquired "Trilobites," by Riccardo Levi-Setti, who just found a new species. This book contains photos of some of the best finds, including a few whose soft limbs were preserved in iron pyrite.  These fossils are locked up in the Peabody, along with many other fantastic specimens. 

I collected and collected, and spent and spent, like a lunatic, until I accepted the fact that I could never collect "one of everything" unless I had billions or trillions of dollars, and that my collection would never be as magnificent as Levi-Setti's

Almost all of my little buddies (some call them "bugs") are now resting in the attic. I keep four out for show. One has eye stalks (broken off and glued back on), another has small spines, and the third is curled up so that his cephalic spines, cheek bones, if you will, are sticking up like a "U."

The fourth is a very nice mortality plate of a species I have not identified. Either their molted shells were collected by currents, or a living bunch of them were buried under silt.  This one is a Moroccan fossil, purchased by me at the Peabody, and has scratches all over it,  and fissures where the plate broke and was glued together (not uncommon).  It is a very good piece, and probably could have sold for $500 to $800 on the Web. 

It's wonderfully three-dimensional, with trilobite atop trilobite. All together there are about 15 trilobites. I am slowly grinding away at some of the worst scratches. 

I'm only going into this much detail, because I know from Google analytics that perhaps 7 people read this mish-mosh once in a while.

Anyway, the point is that I belatedly heard that some of the Peabody staff were made uncomfortable by the last entry I wrote about Moroccan trilobites made out of Bondo.

 I feel bad about this. I never meant to imply that they were trying to foist fakes off on the public, or were acting in any but the most honorable way.

My feeling is that this country is trilobite-illiterate, and someone, somewhere, has to make a stand.

I think everyone ought to know about trilobite fossils. The sad truth is that some of them are half Bondo, (the fossils, I mean),  but this is not the museum's doing. It goes on all over the place.  Maybe all  sellers of fossils should post little cautionary signs.

 Nothing bigger than an ElrathiaThat's all.

And besides, the gift shop is one of my favorite places, and, really, when you get down to it,  I don't know anything about anything. 

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