I came across an article the other day in Science Daily that caught my eye.
Scientists used the latest computer-imaging technology to produce 3D pictures of a 49-million-year-old spider trapped inside an opaque piece of fossilized amber resin. Cool stuff, no doubt!
What really captivated my imagination, however, was the image, shown below…
There I was, face to face with a 49-million-year-old spider! Amazing.
Now, no matter how you slice it, 49 million years is rather a long time. I start sighing and rolling my eyes over the 30 seconds it takes someone at the grocery checkout to dig out that special sales coupon. And yet, there was the amber-entombed arachnid with what I can only imagine is a ‘WTF?’ look on its face.
Archaeology can be a pretty humbling experience for something caught with its proverbial pants down. There you are, going about your daily routine, minding your own business and Poof! A thermodynamic-law-breaking temperature drop here… a Vesuvius eruption there… and your embarrassing last moment of life is captured forever.
One would like to think that if one is dug up tens of thousands of years later, the remains may educate or even, perhaps, move the archaeologist on a deeper emotional level. I remember quite vividly how I reacted to the photo, shown below, of a woman and two children unearthed in the Sahara Desert. They were buried with hands apparently clasped by the mourners in a display of love. Researchers speculate they all died on the same day. Pollen in the burial area showed that the “mother and children” were laid to rest on flowers. They lived 12,000 years ago when the Sahara was green.
I often think of the above photo when I try to imagine the puzzled look on future archaeologists’ faces when they stumble upon the remains of 20th century women who’ve had breast augmentation surgery. Hundreds of female skeletons with little silicon sacks resting on their rib cages. What would be going through the minds of the paleoanthropologists in 12,000 years when presented with such findings? Religious articles from an obscure ancient sect? Perhaps treasured mementos from some life-cycle event forever lost in the mists of time. I somehow doubt “boob job” will spring to mind.
I can only hope, if my time comes and future scientists give my skull and bones the once-over, that I fare as well as the spider.