4 May 2012

Life in the stone

Of the roughly 4,500 terrestrial minerals known today, two-thirds could not have formed without oxygen. Beautiful turquoise, azurite and green malachite exist on a fundament provided by the early single-celled organisms.
-- notes Birger Schmitz in a review of Robert Hazen's The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, From Stardust to Living Planet.

How far knowledge has come. An attempt in 1565 by Conrad Gesner at systemic categorization of fossils and other stones drew the following distinctions:
Those which take their name from something in the sky; those which bear a resemblance to certain artificial things; those which resemble trees or portions of trees; those which resemble men or four-footed animals; those which derive their names from birds; and those which resemble things which live in the sea.
Both Gessner and Hazen feature in a chapter of The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

Images from Emily Young here and here

1 comment:

Emily said...

Fascinating stuff!

By the way, Gesner seems to have forgotten "those which from a long way off look like flies."