24 November 2008

Meet Orthoceras

I purchased a sample at our local rock/gem/mineral show this weekend. Orthoceras was an extinct cephalopod genus - the forerunner of today's nautilus - from the Ordovidian and Devonian periods 400 million years ago, after which time it died off in a worldwide cataclysm that can probably be blamed on global warming or George W. Bush, although I've not seen any proof.

My specimen (top photo) is a fist-sized, polished slab from Morocco with a jet black matrix which has two Orthoceras shells embedded in it. The difference from the modern Nautilus is that the latter has the classic intricately spiral shell, while that of Orthoceras is straight ("ortho" - "straight").

As I Googled the critters, I kept running into websites offering specimens with extraordinary claims such as the following:
Metaphysically, they are used to enhance telepathy, to both heighten and supplement ones accomplishments on business and to instill quality and excellence within ones environment. This stone can stimulate the thymus, for the treatment of atrophy and disorders of the skeletal system, hands and feet.
My thymus involuted decades ago, but enhancing my telepathy wouldn't be bad, and I'd particularly appreciate treating atrophy of the feet since I'm a post-polio survivor, but of course it's all utter hogwash. Crystals and minor gemstones were of course co-opted by the "New Age" movement decades ago, but now it appears some alternative medicine practitioners have expanded their claims to the world of fossils.

I truly don't understand what kind of person it is who actually believes that a fossil will "enhance" their "telepathy" and "supplement" their business accomplishments while stimulating their thymus. Are these religious people? Unreligious? Educated? I suppose its harmless, but it's a bit sad in this modern era to see such primeval concepts still persisting.

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