1564. Embedded fossil
© Bruce Goodman 16 July 2019

When Vernon nonchalantly picked up a largish rock at the beach he had little idea the ripples it would cause amongst the country’s paleontologists. The rock had a fossil in it. Vernon had always been interested in fossils. In fact his wife was an amateur paleontologist who worked part-time at the local museum. The museum had a fairly large collection of fossils and the collection was regarded as of major importance throughout the land.

Vernon never said much to anyone about his find. In fact, he took very little notice of it himself. The rock sat in a bucket in the cupboard with other bits of rock and bone of seeming unimportance. It wasn’t until his wife complained, that Vernon decided to “clean up the mess in the cupboard.”

Going through the buckets of stuff Vernon noticed that a couple of the rocks had interesting embedded fossils, including the rock he had found at the beach. He put them aside for his wife to take to the museum and have them checked out by Dr Faustin Hvar, the head palaeontologist at the museum. Dr Faustin Hvar was on the verge of a paleontological breakthrough. He led the world in his field and would probably know instantly if Vernon’s precious rocks were of any value.

“Take them yourself,” said Vernon’s wife. “I’ve better things to do than run around taking insignificant relics to Dr Faustin.”

What happened next would change the course of paleontology. Vernon took his bucket to the museum. “What is it you want?” asked Dr Faustin Hvar. Vernon could tell the man wasn’t interested. He was cold and aloof. He may have been the world’s leading expert but as a kindly human being he was the pits. “Hurry up,” said the doctor, “I haven’t got all day.”

Vernon saw red. He reached into his bucket and grabbed the embedded fossil rock he had found on the beach.

“This!” shouted Vernon. “This is for having a two-year affair with my wife!” He threw the rock at the palaeontologist. It hit him in the head and the world was bereft of its leading expert. Who would have guessed that such an insignificant fossil could change the course of paleontology so drastically?

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