TITLE: Skeletons: The Frame of Life
AUTHORS: Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams
CHAPTER 8: SKELETON ARCHIVES
In this chapter, Zalasiewicz and Williams briefly cover the types of skeletons that can be used to determine climate and enviornmental history, such as foraminifera, giant clams, giant tortoises. They also cover the differing and/or similar fossils on either side of the Atlantic ocean continets, which eventually helped elucidate the theory of Continental Drift. King Richard III also makes a short appearance.
"It [An ocean quahog collected in 2006] has been christened ‘Ming’, after the Chinese dynasty founded in 1368. Ming, along with many of its kin on the seabed, was hauled aboard the Icelandic fishery research vessel Bjarni Sæmundsson to meet an unfortunate end, especially after its distinguished 507-year lifespan. Ming was frozen on board the ship, and thawed out for scientific investigation back onshore. When the shells of these ocean quahogs were examined it was quickly realized that several of the others had also lived for more than 300 years. Ming was by far the oldest, though, born in 1499, and hence about midway through the 276-year long Chinese dynasty. For what seems like an eternity to humans, Ming quietly lived on the seafloor of the North Atlantic. Ming was already 121 years old when the Pilgrim Fathers passed to the south on their way to the Americas. When the colonies of the United States of America declared their independence from Britain in 1776, Ming was approaching its 277th birthday. The age of Ming the mollusc can be measured by the number of growth increments on its shell, and by comparing those patterns with other ocean quahog specimens and looking for overlaps in the patterns of growth, it has proved possible to extend this skeleton archive back yet earlier, to the mid-7th century, to Dark Ages Britain under Anglo-Saxon rulers."
CHAPTER 9: FUTURE SKELETONS
Here, the authors discuss what skeletons will be left from our time for future paleontologists to find. They mention coral reefs, domestic/food animals bones, as well as augmented (prothetics and hip replacements) and designer skeletons (e.g.bthe change in large scale commercial chicken skeletons), and do-it-your-self skeletons (the use of horns and bones for weapons and tools). This chapter provides something to think about.
CHAPTER 10: SKELETONS ON ALIEN PLANETS
This chapter deals with what type of skeletons astrobiologists and astropaleontologist can expect to find on Mars, as well as other planets and moons. Stromatolites make an appearance in this chapter, as a possible type of life that once inhabited Mars. These last few chapters came across as rather rushed and superficial.