Tullimonstrum gregarium I promised from


Tullimonstrum gregarium

I promised from time to time I would write about something outside of literature and spiritual concerns, and today, for some reason, the Tullymonster has been on my mind a lot. I suppose I should preface the whole discussion below with the note that I don't expect many of you to care, but it will give your brains a break from the usual twisting they must receive upon arriving at my site.

Reconstruction from the Illinois State Museum Webpage.

It's the state fossil of Illinois, for one thing. And no one can quite figure it out. Some think it to be some sort of vertebrate, others claim that it represents a long extinct group. One thing for certain, there's been nothing else found quite like it. Because of the unusual conditions present during the time that the Mazon Creek Formation was being laid down, soft-bodied fossils were preserved with enormous amounts of detail. Our Tullimonstrum is one of the results of that unusual mode of fossil preservation. It is sometimes called saponification, and I leave it to our Latin experts out there to explicate the word.

I love the Tullimonstrum. It is, in fact, exemplary of Hopkins's:

All things counter, original, spáre, strange; Whatever is fickle, frecklčd, (who knows how?) With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím; He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change: Práise hím.

from "Pied Beauty"
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Take one look at this thing and tell me it doesn't meet the criteria!

In addition, the Latin name is a delight. This isn't just Tully's monster, but it is the gregarious one--in part because a large number of fossils of this strange creature were found, but probably also in part due to the sense of humor of the namer.

So a little view into another corner of my world--hope it provides perspective.

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 20, 2002 4:47 PM.

Two Faces of Volunteerism Yesterday, was the previous entry in this blog.

Leperditia Okay, I promise I is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll