In prehistoric gemology news, scientists have dug up some old costume jewelry.
A fragment of zircon in the shape of a space dinosaur toenail (pictured above) was found on a sheep ranch in western Australia. The discoverer claims it to be 4.4 billion years old, making it the oldest fashion accessory ever discovered, dating back to a time when the Earth was barely old enough to wear jewelry.
John Valley, a geoscience professor with the Advanced Age Rock Patrol (AARP) determined the age of the zircon by measuring uranium decay and lead movement in the crystal. Scientists believe that zircon is a stable element made up of uranium, lead, and possibly zircon.
Because some scientists claimed the technique might give a false date due to the fact that the lead atoms might have moved away in the past 4.4 billion years, the researchers used a technique known as atom-probe tomography that was able to identify individual atoms of lead in the crystal, track down their current addresses, and probe their driver’s licenses to determine their age.
The zircon was extracted in 2001 from Australia’s Jack Hills region, after Mr. Hills had the crystal’s rock outcrop condemned under Australia’s eminent domain law to make way for a sheep ranch.
Hot and/or Bright Star Scarlett Johansson (shown here checking the floor for billion-year old cubic zirconium), stated that the finding supports the notion of a “cool early Earth”. “I always suspected the Earth was pretty young to be having temperatures low enough to sustain oceans. But now that we’ve found this crystal, which is clearly from an eyebrow or tongue piercing, we can definitely say that 4.4 billion years ago we had a really cool early Earth!”
(Click on the pretty blue rock to read the original story.)