Scorpion Lives Inside Plaster Mold of Fossil

From ABC News:

Don DeBlieux, a paleontologist for the Utah Geological Survey, said he was sawing open the plaster mold when the scorpion wriggled from a crack in a sandstone block.
DeBlieux is still chipping away at the 1,000-pound rock to expose the horned skull of an 80-million-year-old plant eater a species of dinosaur he says is new to science.

How cool – or scary – is that? You find a new dinosaur and a surprise scorpion…

He discovered the two-inch critter on Jan. 5 after spending two months carefully removing the plaster mold. DeBlieux said he’ll spend more than 500 hours cutting the fossilized skull out of sandstone using tiny pneumatic jackhammers.
It took three and a half years to cut the sandstone block in the field, where researchers encased it with plaster. They moved it by helicopter from the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument to a laboratory in Salt Lake City.
Scorpions, which eat insects, are capable of surviving for months without feeding or moving in a sleep period known as diapause, said Richard Baumann, a Brigham Young University zoologist.
Under other circumstances, the scorpion might have met an untimely end, but DeBlieux said he wanted respected the creature’s will to survive. He set the scorpion free in a field on the west side of Salt Lake City.

Yup, I’d set it free too…

6 Responses

  1. He set the scorpion free in a field on the west side of Salt Lake City.
    …whereupon it was promptly eaten by a bird.
    O.K., that probably didn’t happen, but wouldn’t it be ironic if it did?

  2. Wait a minute – how old was that scorpion (3.5 years?) and how did it get in there?

  3. Dave S. – That would indeed be ironic.
    Coturnix – according to the story they think it crawled in while they were wrapping the fossil in plaster prior to transporting it to the lab:
    The scorpion “must have been hanging out in a crack the day we plastered him,” DeBlieux said Thursday.

  4. Dave S: There was an incident a while back where a bunch of birdwatchers gathered together to watch a rare Spotted Crake that had just been discovered. And then a sparrowhawk flew down and ate it.

  5. Corkscrew – I don’t know what it says about me but when I read:
    “This experience shows why this species is normally shy and secretive.”
    I almost fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard…

  6. Hey, that’s not funny at all. Well, I have to admit, it is kind of funny.

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