Monday, February 28, 2011

Fossil Insects

Over the Christmas break, we had the chance to visit Kathy's sister Linda, her husband Sam (Maestas), and their family. Sam is an amateur paleontologist of the sort that has turned his hobby into his livelihood. He's been telling me for years of his digs and of the interesting dinosaurs and mammals that he has worked with. Growing up in northwestern Colorado he had the opportunity as a teenager to attend a paleontology class given by a local scientist, Les Robinet. Sam was so captivated that he began doing research on his own and volunteered to help with the gentleman in his own digs.

The two became quite close through the years and when Les got too old to manage his small museum and ranch (where many of his fossils were from) he sold them to Sam (my brother-in-law). Since then Sam has worked with a number of scientists and has become very adept at preparing the fossils and has a list of museums around the world that he works with.

Knowing all this, I was a bit surprised when Sam told to me recently that he also had a few fossil insects that had come from a Chinese shipment that he had arranged to prepare. Over the holidays, he invited me over to see a few of his recent pieces that were still in his home. He had a fossil mantis (I think) and a strange fly, although see for yourself. It has strange antennae for a fly. The truth is, I'm not sure what it is. The dragonfly (or damselfly) is also from China. Apparently they're all taken from a level dating back to about 50 million years (to the early Cenozoic Era).

You may run into some of Sam's work in museums around the country. Some of them are also available for sale. You can check out his site on eBay (or you can email Linda directly for more information ( Somebody who works with insect fossils should get in touch with him.

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