Awash with gutless wonders

You are very annoyed. You spent yesterday planting 25 daffodil bulbs for your mum. Today is Mother's Day. OK, the chance of there being 25 bright yellow flowers nodding and smiling in the breeze was pretty low. But it's the thought that counts. Just give them a couple of months. You went out into the garden to check your handiwork. And that's when you saw the mess. Your beautifully prepared garden has been dug up by the neighbour's b****y cat! He's dug a hole so deep that it looks as if he's been digging for gold.

Half of your carefully planted bulbs have been dug up and kicked far and wide. Even worse, after doing his evil, smelly business in the hole he didn't even cover it up properly. Yuk.

So what's this got to do with fossils? Quite a lot, actually. Firstly, the word 'fossil' comes from the Latin word fossilis, meaning 'dug up' - just what the cat did. A lot of words in palaeontology (the study of ancient life) come from Latin, which is not surprising really. It's a dead language and fossils are very, very dead! But the other thing about your exploded flowerbed is that you have assumed the cat did it. Did you see the cat do it? No. Then how do you know it was the cat, and not some half-crazed leprechaun looking for gold? You know because, like a detective and like a palaeontologist, you've used clues to work out who did the evil deed. What you have is some disturbed soil - and the cat's poo. That's evidence enough.

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