Posts Tagged ‘rocks’

Building immunity

October 15, 2012

Fainjin skidded his scooter to a stop near me in the driveway.  His hair needs a cut again, it was sticking up through the ventilation holes in his helmet.

“Mum!” he said with an air of gravitas.  “I was scootering down here and I hit a rock, and it bounced away.  I licked it – ”

“You what?!”

” – and it didn’t stick to my tongue, so it’s probably not a fossil.”

“Ah.  Right.  Checking for fossils.  Well.  I think licking rocks to check for fossils is probably best left for palaentological digs, ok?  Please don’t lick the rocks in the garden.”

“Why not?”

I sighed to myself.  Why not indeed?  What reasoning could possibly make sense to a five-year-old boy who has decided that there might be dinosaur bones just lying around in our driveway?

Bless him.

He got the idea – to lick rocks, not that our driveway might harbour T-Rex remains – from a talk on dinosaurs at Questacon last month.  The speaker said that it can be hard to tell fossils from ordinary rocks, so sometimes palaentologists will touch rocks to their tongues.  Fossils are slightly porous, he said, and will stick to the tongue slightly, whereas rocks don’t.

I wonder how many other kids who were at that talk have been going around licking random rocks?

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Rocking in Queensland

October 27, 2011

During our stay in Central Queensland, we took the kids rock-hunting.  There is lots of good rock-hunting to be done in the area – fossicking for emeralds and sapphires around Emerald and Rubyvale is great fun, although very hot and dusty work.

We weren’t that far west (Queensland is BIG. More than twice the size of Texas and even bigger than Alaska), so we didn’t go to the gemfields.  Instead, we took the kids to Mt Hay to look for thundereggs – or as Fainjin and Babess insisted, thunderstorms.

On the way there, we looked out for kangaroos (we didn’t see any this time, but have in the past)(*) but were surprised and delighted to see some camels – and their babies!  We assume they were being farmed, as it’s not the sort of area where they roam wild.

Finally we found the turn-off and went up a bumpy dusty road to the shop and fossicking area.  The kids loved looking at the beautiful polished gems and crystals in the shop, and we had to warn them that their thundereggs would not look like that!

We were given a brief talk on the history of the area (Fainjin was excited to know we were on a volcano!) and shown what to look for.  Then we armed ourselves with picks, buckets of water and plastic bags for our treasures, and hit the dirt.

All you need to go rock-hunting

A-hunting Pearl shall go...

Babess found the first non-broken thunderegg, she has a good eye as it turns out.  Hers were probably the best examples of all the ones we found.

Babess loved washing the rocks; hers were definitely the cleanest!

Babess' thundereggs - one is a double-yolker!

It didn’t take us too long to amass a worrying quantity of rock, especially Pearl who liked the look of several lumps of rhyolite.  Fainjin was the first to decide he’d had enough digging, but he was happy to scale the heights of the rockheap and slide down on his bottom while waiting for the rest of us.

Fainjin was thrilled to see that "one of them has a dinosaur face!"

Eventually the lure of ice-creams in the shop overwhelmed the temptation to look for “just one more, bigger” thunderegg, and we all went in.

Inside, we presented our treasures for approval, and the best examples were selected for cutting.  The ones I found turned out to be mostly empty, and a more interesting replacement appeared from a bucket behind the counter kept for that purpose.

The thrills weren’t over, though.  We took our ice-creams outside to eat under shade umbrellas, and found we were sharing the picnic spot with this guy:

His gift to us was 15 minutes of quiet, still, fascinated children.

(*) Actually, we did see one, probably, but it had met a truck in the night and was no longer recognisable.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.


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