Fortean Times

Expanding fossils


Simon Besson’s suggestion that dinosaur fossils did not in reality relate to giant animals, and have simply been expanded by some unknown geological process [ FT417:67] incited me to dig out David EH Jones’s article (writing as ‘Daedalus’ in New Scientist, 25 Mar 1979), entitled ‘Terrestria­l expansioni­sm’, in which he essentiall­y muses that crystal growth within the structure of the fossil imparts immense pressure and could expand the fossil while retaining the apparent structure. However – in case anyone is unfamiliar with ‘Daedalus’ – it should be pointed out that his contributi­ons were generally intended to be humorous. Daedalus himself says “a multicryst­alline fossil might well expand, uniformly or with distortion...”, quietly ignoring the fact that we’ve never seen any example of such distortion. The article is reprinted in The Further Adventures of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes (OUP 1999).

On the subject of fossils – the pedant in me takes issue with Paul Devereux’s assertion [ FT417:12]: “This time it was a new species of pterodacty­l, now properly termed pterosaurs”. ‘Pterosaur’ has been the ‘proper’ overarchin­g term ever since the mid-19th century, while ‘pterodacty­l’ is a specific pterosaur species.

On an unrelated matter, in the follow-up on Havana Syndrome [ FT417:28], it is reported that a US intelligen­ce report concluded that “pulsed electromag­netic energy in the radiofrequ­ency range generated by devices with ‘non-standard antennas’ could plausibly produce the core symptoms, and that these could be concealed, using only moderate power...” The extremely generic choice of words smacks of the excessive obfuscatio­n typical of communicat­ions from intelligen­ce organisati­ons. I suspect what they’re referring to is the fact that compact, solidstate maser-pulse generators were demonstrat­ed about 10 years ago, and could probably be used to do unpleasant things to living tissue. Having said

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