Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The First Stone Sculptures of Life

by Drew Martin
It has been relayed to me all of my life by art historians that Michelangelo found his human forms inside the blocks of marble and he merely released them. He died in 1564 and while fossils of bizarre creatures had been discovered for centuries, it was not for another 300 years that people started making sense of them. There is something very Michelangelo about fossilized plants and animals - hints of life trapped in stone/converted to stone. It is also quite mythological: Medusa-like. Two days ago, a neighbor and I were walking around an excavation across the street from my house. We live in northern New Jersey, which is full of glacial field stones. The deep dig turned up thousands of rocks, some the size of large cars. On the way out of the site, my neighbor saw a chunk of sandstone. He mentioned there would be fossils inside, perhaps a few shells, so he lifted it above his head and threw it down on the asphalt driveway. It split open to reveal the tail of some ancient creature, with a ribbed end. It was fascinating to witness and to contemplate this life form from a much earlier time and to imagine that the very land we stood on was once covered by the ocean.
Click here to see a video of the rock and fossil.