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Home > Archives > Strange & Weird > Living Fossils

Living Fossils
by Davy Russell
POSTED: 20 September 99

Although it is not exactly paranormal in nature, the phenomenon of entombed animals is completely unexplainable by modern science. Frequently reported throughout history, people have been startled to find living animals trapped in stones, tree trunks, or concrete, sometimes hundreds of feet below the earthís surface. In every report, the animal (usually a frog or toad) is found as a rock was split open or a tree trunk was being sawed, with no possible way evident for the creature to end up inside the cavity of the stone or tree. The cavity is usually slightly larger than the animal, and often it is the same shape as the animal found inside. Animals that are suddenly freed from their stony prisons are often reported as turning darker in color, having difficulty breathing at first, and becoming full of life.

A toad estimated to be over 6000 years old was freed from itís stony prison in 1865, by excavators in Durham, England. The live toad was found in a block of magnesian limestone 25 feet underground. Its eyes were reported to be especially bright, its hind claws were particularly long and the claws of its forefeet were turned in. It grew darker in colour, from a pale colour matching the stone it was found in to a darker olive brown. It appeared to have difficulty breathing as it made a barking sound from its nostrils.

There is no scientific explanation as to how a frog or toad could survive in a seemingly air tight stone without water or food. Some suggest they collect water and nutrients that seep through the stone, especially if it is porous like limestone. Air could get in the same way. However, many of these entrapped animals are found hundreds of feet underground in rock believed to be thousands of years old. Even if the animal survived being trapped in stone, it is extraordinary that it would have remained alive for so long. Ironically, many reports of freed animals claim the creature only lived a few hours or days after being released into "survivable" conditions.

It is interesting to note that many reports of such trapped animals suggest that they were a prehistoric species as descriptions often match those of animals that were extinct or have since evolved. Perhaps some animals survive fossilization.

In 1818, a geologist named Dr. Edward D. Clarke was looking for fossils in a chalk quarry 270 feet underground. Dr. Clarke found some fossilized sea urchins and newts. He dug three well-preserved newts out and placed them on paper in the sun. To his astonishment, they began to move around. Two of the newts died shortly, but the third remained lively and was released into a pond. Dr. Clarke claimed the newts were unlike any other living at the time and were an extinct species unknown to science.

Most scientists will hold firm to the opinion that cases in which 6000 year old frogs survive such a long period of time encased in stone are absolutely impossible. Skeptics suggest the frogs or other creatures were actually discovered near the recently split stone or tree trunk and were assumed to be trapped inside as the observer noticed the small cavity. However, the reports of trapped animals are very similar, and many notice the creature inside the cavity before it is freed. Although frogs are known to hibernate for months at a time in mud, it is hard to imagine so many hibernating so long that the mud turned to stone, then sat for unknown periods of time until split open.

Here are a few more reports:

In 1719, French lumbermen were astonished to find a living frog directly in the center of a solid elm trunk about 4 feet above the root.

In 1853, a live horned lizard was freed from a block of solid stone. It was sent to the Smithsonian Institution. The lizard only lived two days after being freed.

The most amazing case of living fossils is one of a pterodactyl in France during the winter of 1856. Workmen were digging a railway tunnel through a layer of Jurassic limestone. They were startled to find a large creature stumbling out of a recently split boulder, flapping what looked like wings and croaking. It died immediately. The creature was identified as a pterodactyl by a local paleontology student who recognized the characteristic features of the extinct reptile. The stone in which it was found was consistent with the time period in which pterodactyls lived and formed an exact mold of the creatureís body.

SOURCES: Mysteries of the Unexplained, Readerís Digest
Strange & Unexplained Phenomena, Jerome Clark and Nancy Pear.

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