Monday, June 27, 2011

Accretionary Wedge #35: My Favorite Word

I've been racking my brain to think of my favorite geology word. Thing is, geology is a great science for people who like words. We've got all sorts of words.

But, I think I'm going to have to go with "bioturbated" for my wedge post. It's got lots of great implications. In the geologic sense, "bioturbation" occurs when living organisms burrow/crawl/move through sediments, thereby disturbing whatever primary structures were present. I mentioned it last year, too.

I particularly like reference to one particular type of bioturbation. Dinosaur footprints. These prints can sometimes be found all over in Mesozoic rocks - enough of them that it is sometimes referred to as "Dinoturbation."

Iguanodontid footprints - click to embiggen.

Of course, bioturbation need not be preserved in rock to be interesting. Gophers and moles are excellent bioturbators:

Perhaps some day in the distant future our descendants (or the sentient offspring of some surviving taxonomic group) will have their version of geologists. If the term survives, these geologists might mark the tiny sliver of geologic time that some refer to as the "Anthropocene" by noting extensive bioturbation due to activities by a particularly industrious species of ape. We may not be the most extensive agents of bioturbation in Earth history, but we're doing a pretty good job.

UPDATE: Just noticed that this was my 300th post. I don't know if there's anything special, but I kind of like the idea that this reaches the even century mark for the 3rd time.

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