Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ROM Fossils Make Way For $270 Million Dollar Crystal

From the London Free Press:

Thanks to a $270-million addition to the Royal Ontario Museum, the University of Western Ontario has acquired the Toronto museum's collection of fossils from the Mazon Creek area, located west of Chicago. The site is known for producing well-preserved fossils of jellyfish, fish, marine crustaceans, insects and plants.

ROM with new crystal addition
The fossils were stored in buckets on the ROM's roof to take advantage of the freeze-thaw cycle, which cracks the rocks open and, after time, exposes the fossils. When work on the much-hype Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, moved to the downtown Toronto museum's north side, engineers asked the fossil rocks be moved from the roof.

"We came to a mutually beneficial solution with the folks at the ROM," says Matt Devereux, outreach co-ordinator for Western's science faculty. "We drove to Toronto and picked up three tonnes of these rocks and brought them back to London . . . we'll be treasure hunting for a few years by the looks of it."

Devereux says the pair have only scanned the tops of the buckets and have already discovered fossils of Tullimonstrum gregarium, also known as the Tully Monster, jellyfish, shrimp, polychete worms and various plants.