Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fossils at Woodlands

I have only a fleeting interest in paleontology. That started long long ago, long before the movie Jurassic Park. Somewhere in my boxes, there's a collection of real fossils. Ammonites, trilobites, amber insects and fossilized shark's teeth. Souvenirs of those growing up years which we somehow like to cling to.

Many years ago, while waiting for a friend at the Woodlands MRT station, I noticed that the station was covered with tiles made of rough sandstone. And the facade appeared to be badly stained with mouldy patches.

Anyone passing by probably wouldn't give a hoot about those dirty mouldy stains, but as I had nothing to do while waiting, I looked at it and lo, and behold! they were not stains. They looked like impressions of ferns and leaves. Fossils!

The facade of Woodlands MRT station is covered with sandstone tiles that were formed millions of years ago.

Since then, every time when I am at that station, I will just wonder along the walls and look at the fossilized impressions. Really, the patterns are wonderful to look at and they are all over the walls. You just have to look. Here are some pictures I took of the walls and the fossilised impressions.

Click on the photographs to view a larger image

Then today, while doing some reading, I came to know that the impressions found in the slate tiles were not fossils of ferns.
, what a let-down! I was really dejected to learn of this.

They are what are known as pseudofossils. And they have fooled a lot of people in the past, just like finding iron pyrite which is also known as 'fools gold'. They do look exactly like fossilised ferns and are found in slate or sandstone rocks which are truly from the age of the dinosaurs.

However, the impressions are known as dendrites. These are actually manganese oxide or iron oxide that had seeped into the rock formation millions of years ago and left their fern-like impressions in the rock. These rocks are commonly found in India, Germany and Australia and are used for wall and floor tiles. However, these patterns are also collectibles. Kinokuniya Books sells these around $60 for a 3cm x 3cm piece.

Well, if ever they tear down the walls of the station, they can always re-cycle the tiles as fossil collectibles. Go have a look while it's still there. They are really pretty.

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