Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

My Very Own Diplomystus: A Fish Story

I found a bone in our back yard when I was a boy, about six or seven.

I took it to my father who told me that it was a fossil; he said it might be a dinosaur bone.

Actually, it may have been a chicken bone and Daddy was just provoking my imagination by saying I’d found a dinosaur bone. I discovered later that no dinosaurs lived here in Florida. How was I to know what kind of bone it was?

Anyhow the find excited me to no end. I read everything I could find about dinosaurs and fossils and geology.

Later as a Boy Scout, I tramped through phosphate pits looking for Carcharodon Megalodon’s giant shark teeth; I explored Florida caves finding stone sand dollars and petrified wood in the limestone walls; I dove in Ichetucknee Spring bringing up pieces of mastodon bones. I chiseled crinoids out of rock on a West Virginia mountain top, and I touched fern imprints on chunks of Pennsylvania coal.

One odd place I visited fossil hunting — at low tide I waded along the Calvert Cliffs on Chesapeake Bay where erosion exposes a massive fossil bed. You can find the bones of prehistoric camels and dolphins, cattle and seals, all buried together in one place. What in the world do you suppose could sweep such a diverse collection of mammals into the same giant grave?

At one time, my boyhood pipe dream (literally, I began smoking my pipe when I was 12) was to become a paleontologist. And, in one of my geology books I saw a photo that intrigued me — a fossil fish embedded in stone.


What a find!

Isn’t that neat?

But I never found a fossil fish in rocks accessible here in Florida.

I have coveted a fossil fish of my own for the past 50+ years…

Jack, my father-in-law who died last month, was an avid amateur geologist and co-founder of a geological society in Maryland. He owned an extensive collection of fossils including some cool coprolites which he loved to show off.

Yesterday afternoon my daughter Jennifer came over bringing me a gift from Jack’s rock society meeting:

I’m thrilled!

It’s a Diplomystus, an Eocene Era fish from the Green River Formation in Wyoming. According a fact sheet, “Diplomystus was a midsized predator preying on smaller fish and insects. Its upturned mouth indicates it was primarily a surface feeder”.

According to the fact sheet some scientists believe my fossil fish is 40 million years old while others think it is 60 million years old. Quite a difference.

Not being a paleontologist, I can’t settle the dispute about the age of my Diplomystus; however, Mama said that the only way to tell if fish is old is to smell it.

So I sniffed my fossil.

Smells fine to me.

So I doubt if this fish is all that old.

Anyhow, my daughter thought I was crazy when I stripped off my red tee shirt, draped it over the rock laying on my scanner’s glass table. I wanted a red background to showcase my first ever fish fossil!

Yes, I scanned the actual rock fossil into my computer.

I’m using it as a desktop background right now.

(Right click on any photo, click “Save As” and put the file in “My Pictures” then when you click on desktop properties, chose the photo you want as a wallpaper).

After all these years I finally own a fossil fish!

I’m tickled pink!

I understand that some people believe that frozen water once covered the land creating an Ice Age rather than believe that liquid water covered the same land as in the biblical Flood of Noah. Either way, ice or liquid, the phenomena did not do the creatures living at the time much good.

I wouldn’t bother arguing with anybody about it but, for what its worth, I’m a Flood man myself.

But I’m a Flood man with a fish.

A fossil fish.

And I’m tickled pink.

Yesterday, I also returned to work on those 16th century Puritan diaries (between bouts of soaking my foot) but more about those in some later blog posting.

For right now I’m going to rock in my rocker, smoke my pipe, and admire my wonderful, beautiful, new old fish.

Thanks be to God!

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 2:04 AM


At 2:55 AM, Blogger John Cowart said...

A large section of my book Glog: A Dinosaur Novel… Of Sorts is set in the Calvert Cliffs area of the Chesapeake Bay. In this adventure story, when he finds the baculum of a giant otter, the monster Glog ponders where all these bones came from and he expounds a theory about their origin. This novel can be found in my online book catalog at www.bluefishbooks.info .
The reason I’m including this information as a comment is that it just occurred to me to stick a plug for my book in; I was so excited about my fossil fish that I forgot about my own book. I think it is the best thing I ever wrote.

At 4:43 AM, Blogger jellyhead said...

I like the fish. It's a very funky fish. Amazing to think how old it is, and yet you can still admire it. What a wonderful gift!

At 8:36 AM, Blogger pai said...

I should see if I can borrow my sister's trilobites to show you. They are pretty cool. :)

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Pat said...

If you're so fond of relics, I could scan the back of my hand and you could study the age spots and blue veins..
Once again I see you speak of the aforementioned Ichetuckneleichsl spring...that place is starting to fascinate me!

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Dr.John said...

Never knew old fish could make people so happy. I rejpice with you.


Post a Comment

<< Home