Compiled by R.V. Dietrich
thumbnails to see larger images.
Nearly everyone has, I suspect, looked at one
thing and imagined it
looked like something else. Indeed, many observations of this
kind have been
recorded. -- Four examples are: the Chinese poet
mentions viewing stones (see www.bonsai-nbf.org/);
has Hamlet exclaiming about cloud shapes that resemble "a camel," "a
weasel," and "a whale" (Hamlet -- Act iii, scene 2);
Mark Twain (1835-1910) has Adam, in The Diaries of Adam and Eve,
" . . . always that same pretext is offered -- it looks like
Robert Williams Wood (1868-1955) in his little book How
to tell the birds
from the flowers . . . (1917) provides several delightful
sketches and poetic
remarks that pertain to such observations; and, there are ,
of course, the implications, especially in some peoples' minds, that
relate mimetoliths and pareidoliatic
An EPILOGUE, which follows the acknowledgments near the end of this text, includes much of the introduction that appeared in Dietrich (1989) and a short paragraph about pareidoliatic apophenia.
It seems prudent here to recommend users to view
the larger versions of the illustrations, which may
be seen by clicking
the thumbnails; some of
them show more than an enlarged version of the thumbnail. Also, anyone who knows
features (s)he thinks
should be included, please contact me. This file will be
updated continually by
adding comments about and/or illustrations of noteworthy mimetoliths
not previously included
on this site.
mimetolith (m0· m‘!·
tÇ· l0th) n. 1.a. a
topographic feature, rock outcrop, rock specimen, mineral specimen, or
loose stone the shape
of which resembles something else -- e.g., a real or fancied
manufactured item, or part(s) thereof. b. a topographic
outcrop, rock specimen, mineral specimen, or loose stone, the surface
which resembles a real or fancied animal, ... . c. a
feature (et alia) with any combination of shape and
pattern that resembles a
real or fancied animal, . . . . [Greek mimetes
(an imitator) and lithos
(stone); term coined by Thomas Orzo MacAdoo,
first appeared in
(Dietrich, 1989).] Discussion: Some people
have applied this
designation to forms exhibited by minerals and rocks that have been cut
sliced) or shaped (e.g., eggs and spheres) -- see, for examples,
Figures 32, 61-78 and AppB1-AppB9. Although
been suggested that this is an
the designation, it seems quite justified because natural weathering
and erosion could
have exposed the features that would have led to their being referred
to by this term.
---------- >>>>> <<<<< ----------
One question, in particular, has arisen about
"Should such features on the moon, planets and other celestial bodies
My "off the top of my head" answer is a rhetorical question:
"Considering general application of geological nomenclature to other
bodies in the universe, is there any good reason not to include such
features?" See, for
example, Figures 1a, 1b and 2. On the other hand, I would not
such things as the following (directed to my attention by a friend who
keeps abreast this web site): "NASA's Hubble Space Telescope
captures a the [sic]
celestial equivalent of a geode in this gas cavity carved by stellar
wind. Real geodes are baseball-sized rocks that start out as
bubbles in volcanic flows." Among other things, this
quotation, a caption given for the accompanying photograph in the
Photo Gallery: Amazing Space Photos --
3 Oct. '07) -- relates to general
ideas relating to geneses of the illustrated feature and one of the
hypothesized origins for
vesicles (Not geodes), rather than to appearances.
|Large (and medium) sized features
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|1a. "The Face of Mars," a mesa (~1.5 km across) in the Elysium region of Mars. (photo P-1174-023, taken July 25, 1976 by Viking I Orbitor; courtesy Conway W. Snyder). Added 22 September 2006: For more recently taken photos etc., see http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars_Express/SEM09F8LURE_1.html [On July 8, 2009, I received an email that indicates the location given and the illustrations are "false, they are sketches." I have not been able to verify this recently received information.] More recently, Ian O'Neill (see References cited) has directed attention to the "Top 10 Weirdest Mars Illusions and Pareidolia", especially a Floating Spoon.|
|1b. "Rabbit on the
Moon," pattern of darker areas of full moon (circumferance-
10,864 km -- i.e.,~ 6790
miles) as seen from Chile. Clicked image consists of three
parts: Left to right, the Full moon, the "Rabbit on the
moon," and a glyph of the Mixtec culture of Mexico. It is
"the Mixtecas probably saw a rabbit-like shape on the surface of the
full moon, and thus elaborated the glyph that represents the
moon as a rabbit." (Patricio Bustamante, personal communication, March,
2008). For an explanatory text (in Spanish), see http://rupestreweb.info/hierofania.html
|1c. "Peppered pasta," "bread sticks," "cinnamon rolls" and "mashed potatoes sprinkeld with spices" are among suggested names for this "field of spotted ... [sand] dunes ... near the Martian North Pole." The original caption for the complete photograph (to see, click thumbnail), which spans ~3 km, indicates this appearance to be ephermal -- i.e., during thawing "Thinner regions of ice typically thaw first revealing sand whose darkness soaks in sunlight ... [but] By summer, ... the entire dunes will then be completely thawed and dark." (© Malin Space Science Systems, MOC, MGS, JPL, NASA: from http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html, dated 31 August 2004 ).|
2a. "Old Man of the Mountain" (also called "Great Stone Face") is the age-old erosional remnant of granite is the state symbol of New Hampshire. Here shown on a 1955 commemroative U.S. postage stamp, it also is the focus of the New Hampshire's $.25 coin of the U.S. sates series. This granite profile (height ~12.5 m.), which jutted out as a cliff from near the top of Cannon Mountain near Franconia Notch, was held together for several decades by steel rods etc. until May 2, 2003, when it met a Humpty Dumpty fate. The fall, which destroyed the profile, led to several diverse suggestions as to what might be done to the remains -- see, for example, Susan Ager (Detroit Free Press, 11 May 2003, p.K1). (© photo of stamp by Malcolm Back).
2b. "Grey Man of the Merrick" rock exposure on the northwestern side of the NE-SW trending niche between Redstone Rig and Craig Neldricken about 0.5 km southwest of the southwestern lobe of Loch Enoch, about 18 km N.11o E. of Newton-Stewart in the Dumfries and Galloway Region of the Southern Uplands of southwestern Scotland. (© photo by Douglas E. Wilcox; see www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgenetics/gallery).
2c. Name: Photographer, Algis Kemezys suggested: "Montezuma Rock ... it looks like it is a King with a crown of sorts." ¶ RVD' response: "I cannot help but think the locals have had names ... If so, I should include it." ¶ Algis: " I so agree ... that the local Indians would have names for such mimetoliths. I think in some ways mimetoliths kick started the whole universe of gods. ... I will still try to dig deeper and see if I can find some infor (sic) but I am no longer there." ¶ If a locally used name is found, it will be added. Location: Near LaManzanilla Beach, which is on Tenacatita Bay of the Pacific Ocean, Jaliśco, Mexico. (© photo by Algis Kemezys).
|2d. "The Sleeping Giant," a plump face and body profile landscape that can be viewed along the northern edge of the Helena Valley, Montana. (photo U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management).|
landscape. View from road between Los Perales and Céspedes
of the upper Illapel River Valley in the Coquimbo Region, which is
north of Valparíso, Chile. For further
this mimetolith, see the following web site (in Spanish): http://rupestreweb.info/entorno2.html
2f. "Jan from the Argonauts" or "Giant Mountain Mimetolith": Names given by photographer, in part because of the location of this feature. It is in Northern Peloponnese, Greece. ... "not far from Argo[s] where the ships set sail to attack Troy to get Helen back. This is also near where Jason and the Argo naughts set sail looking for the golden Fleece." (Algis Kemezys, p.c. 1 January 2014) . (© photo by Algis Kemezys).
|2g. "von Hindenburg with his earmuffs on," an erosion remnant of diversely colored sandstones of the Wasatch Formation in Bryce Canyon, Utah. (© photo by Dick Dietrich).|
|2i. The seven mimetoliths on the
clicked image are in Turkey. The one on the upper left and the
four in the bottom row are near the coast, ~7 kilometers south of Bayir
(Bayirkoy) in southwestern Turkey; the middle one in the top row
is near Oren in southern Turkey; the one on the upper right is
near Datça, which is down the penninsula, ~60 kilometers west of
Marmaris. The names given on the features on the clicked image
are mine (RVD’s). (photos ©
|2j. Bandana(-topped) Man -- Part of an outcrop of a cross-bedded sandstone of the Milk River Formation in Davis Coulee, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park in southern Alberta, Canada; height ~20m along right margin of photograph. (© photo by Rudi Meyer)|
2k. "Elephant Rock" (Fil taşi in Turkish). This natural arch, which consists of "basaltic(?) lava," is one of several mimetoliths in the Black Rock Mts. of southwestern Turkey. According to the photographer, it is about 1.5 miles from the village of Karakya and about five miles northeast of Gümüşlük, which is on the Aegean Sea. (© photo by Algis Kemezys).
2l. "Pyramid" near east shore of Pyramid Lake, which is in the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation north-northeast of Sparks, Nevada. Click thumbnail to see a sketch of John C. Fremont's expedition "paused at the Pyramid in 1844" and a recent photograph of more of the lake around the pyramid. (© photo and sketch from www.nevadaweb.com/cnt/r-t/pyramid/, permission of David W. Toll).
|Sizewise the following mimetoliths are the so-to-speak transitions between the preceding large features and those shown in the "Rocks and Rock Specimens" group -- i.e., they are the ones referred to in the heading to this group as "medium" size features.|
3a. Lion Head -- This is one of a number of mimetoliths in the igneous terrain along the path to the aquarium south of the Bitez Boat Harbor , which is just north of Bodrum, southeastern Turkey. The feature is said to be "almost life size." (© photo by Algis Kemezys)
Sphinx" -- "The eagle head image is
about two feet [~60 cm] high from top of its head down to the rocky
base. ... The rock is sandstone. ... [It is on the] rocky
islet ... locally called 'Ship Rock' and it's part of The little
Group, off Tsehum Harbour just north of Sidney, BC on the Saanich
Peninsula of Vancouver Island. Ship rock is about halfway betwen
Ker Island and Dock Island." (Paula Johanson, personal communication,
August, 2009). To me, there is yet another mimetolith in
this view -- see the head near the base of the "sphinx."
(© photo by John W. Herbert)
"Janus": The name
given by photographer "because it has two faces ... [one] looks like a
profile by itself but the whole makes the face complete. I named
it Janus because of the two faced Roman God. It is located
halfway between the town of Vathy, Ithaca and the Cave of the
Nymphs [Ithaca Island, which is in the Ionian Sea, and of the
Prefecture of Kefalonia]. I found it because I left the road to
go down to pet a dog and found it where in the pen where the dog
was chained. ... It is the size of a sled, or a medium sized dog.
2.75 feet by 1'." (© photo
by Algis Kemezys) ¶ Kemezy's
remarks about dogs led a couple of us who viewed this photograph before
it was added to this web site to refer to it as Leo (the Lion) because,
to us, it roughly resembles a Shih Tzu.
Others in the literature: Several natural
sporadically on our Earth have been given names that support their
status as mimetoliths.
Three of the larger ones are the "Horn of Africa" -- i.e., the Somali Peninsula of East
Africa that so-to-speak juts into the Arabian Sea, which was apparently
so-named because its shape was seen to resemble that of a
rhinoceros horn; Italy, the peninsular
country that extends into the Mediterranean Sea, with its widely noted
boot shape; and Michigan's lower peninsula,
which is frequently
referred to as a mitten. A
few of literally scores of examples of relatively large mimetoliths,
like those shown in figure groups 1 and 2, above, follow:
Speleothems (i.e., cave formations), many of which are mimetoliths, occur in many caves throughout the world. Examples of fairly common speleothems that have been given names indicating what they resemble include the following: angel hair, bacon strips, draperies, frostwork, honeycombs, parachutes, shields, soda straws, and veils; flowers, needles and pearls (usually preceded either by the word cave or the name of the component mineral, as an adjective). In addition, several commercial caves feature formations to which they have given names such as "The Great (Pipe) Organ," "Christmas trees," and "Eagle's nest." Of these latter, less common forms, my favorite is "Abraham Lincoln's Profile" in Longhorn Cavern State Park, Burnet, Texas. Many of these features can be seen on web sites that list caves/caverns/grottoes.
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|12. Draperies and bacon rind speleothems (no dimension specified) in Wolf River Cave (known locally as "Blowing Cave"), Pall Mall, Tennessee, near the estate of the famous Alvin C. (Sergeant) York. (© photo by Jay Greene, courtesy James Greene).|
|13.Bacon rind, calcite speleothem approximately 15 to 30 cm wide on the inclined ceiling of the entrance room in Las Grutas de Bustamante, Bustamante, Nuevo León, México. (courtesy of Thomas Shimer and Shannon Woodward, Texas A&M University at Galveston Biospeleology class, 2002).|
|14. Cluster of soda straws (no dimension specified) in "A Classic TAG ["TAG refers to an area of heavy concentration of caves located at the junction of the states of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, USA."] Commercial Cave." (© photo by Jay Greene, courtesy James Greene).|
|15. "Frostwork on popcorn and boxwork" in Wind Cave, Custer County, South Dakota. Remarkably, the crystals and "popcorn" resemble two kinds of frost per se that I saw while spending a year in Norway; although a native of the St. Lawrence River Valley of northern New York, where plants (etc.) are frequently frost-covered, I had not previously seen popcorn-shaped frost. (photo by Keven Downey & Urs Widmer, from the Wind Cave National Park Service web site -- http://www.nps.gov/wica/ ).|
|16. Gypsum flower (size not specified) in "A Classic TAG Commercial Cave." (© photo by Jay Greene, courtesy James Greene).|
|17. "Butterfly" ("wing span" ~ 22 cm) helictite in the Caverns of Sonora, Sutton County, Texas. --Helictite is the name given stalactites whose growth are controlled largely by forces other than gravity. (© photo by Jack Burch, courtesy of the Caverns of Sonora).|
Most mimetoliths included in this group are in museum and private collections or on beaches, in gravel pits, etc. -- several of the illustrated examples representing the last two environments were photographed and left for others to collect should they want them. The stone called "Eternity" is of particular interest so far as this group of mimetoliths: It is about fist-sized, resembles an old woman's face and is said to be "worth 96 million yuan (US$12 million)" (see http://english1.peopledaily.com.cn/200406/29/eng20040629_147918.html). Whatever, the mimetoliths consdiered in this group are smaller than most of those mentioned and illustrated under the preceding subheadings.
Many mineral and rock specimens that can be designated as mimetoliths have undergone preparatory procedures -- e.g., extraneous material has been removed. However, the original shapes, which comprise their mimicking components, have not been altered by those procedures. Cross-shaped twinned crystals of staurolite are probably the most widely known examples of mimetoliths of this category. Although some of these crosses occur loose where they have weathered out of their host rock, many have been freed from their surrounding minerals by collectors and preparators. These mimetoliths, which resemble either Roman and Maltese crosses are frequently referred to in the vernacular as "fairy stone crosses." Along this line, it seems noteworthy that staurolite's commonly occurring as cross-shaped twinned crystals led to its name, which is based on the Greek word stauros (meaning "cross"). One noteworthy example of a mineral mimetolith that is not shown here is "Bird Wing." Described as a "Shimmery, dusty-rose piece [of hematite] from the English Midlands," it is illustrated by a fine photograph in "Audubon" (magazine, September-October 2012, p.76). For the record, the specimen, now in the Academy of Natural Siences Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is said to have been collected by William S. Vaux. Another mineral that perhaps should be added here is OKENITE, which is often even referred to or described by terms such as snowball and puffball. To date, I have been unable to find one to photograph or anyone to contact to get such a photograph -- perhaps someone viewing this web site will have one, that warrants photographing and inclusions in this group.
|ineral Specimens (Dana System order)
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|21. "The Dragon" (height - 11.5 cm), gold from the Colorado Quartz mine, Mariposa County, California is said by Jeff Scovil to be the finest gold specimen on matrix in the world. Houston Museum of Natural Science collection. (© photo by Jeff Scovil).|
|21a. "Auric Geezer, the old prospector" [R.V.D.'s designation] (height - 5.8 cm) gold specimen from Khoral deposit, Tuva (+Charal, Tuvainskaja A.S.S.R. in some atlases), which is approximately 500 km east of the southwestern tip of Lake Baikal, Russia. Specimen is in Fersman Mineralogical Museum of the Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia -- see Leibov, 2004. (© photo by Michael Liebov).|
|22. "The Tyrannosaurus Rex Silver" from near Rockland, Ontonagon County, Michigan (longest dimension, ~11.5cm). This photograph has been used by Western Minerals in its advertisements -- e.g., on page 348, volume 87 of "Rocks & Minerals" (© photo courtesy Western Minerals, www.westernmineralsaz.com).|
|23. "The Buffalo" (height ~ 14 cm) – silver crystals and native copper from the Calumet and Hecla mine, "most likely one of the Kearsarge mines or the Wolverine mine". John T. Reeder collection, #1726, A.E. Seaman Mineral Musem, Michigan Technological University. (© photo by George Robinson).|
|24. "Gamboling – Fast and Free" (18 x 13 cm) – copper crystals from the White Pine mine, Ontonagon County, Michigan. Benjamin Webb donation to A.E. Seaman Mineral Musem, Michigan Technological University. (© photo by John Jaszczak).|
"!0.5-cm. cluster ... copper crystals from Michigan ... " see
clicked image, which includes the complete caption and additional
information. (photo by Richard
Jackson; permission to include here,
Collector's Edge Minerals, Inc.; first published in The Mineralogical
January/February, 2011, p.4)
|25. "Sir Walter Raleigh and his first cigar" (height ~ 6 cm) – nodular "psilomelane" from Crimora mine, Augusta Co., Virginia. (© photo by G.K. McCauley).|
|26. Plane-bounded "Heart" (height ~3.2 cm) – twinned calcite, which exhibits phantoms, from Fivemile Point, Keweenaw County, Michigan; specimen found by Bob Williams in 1975 is currently in the Pam and Jerry Hall collection. (© photo by John Jaszczak).|
|27. "The Snail" (width - 8 cm), rhodochrosite on crystallized manganite from the N'chwaning Mine in Kuruman, South Africa. Bill Larson collection. (© photo by Jeff Scovil).|
|28. "Heart" (width -1.3 cm) of smithsonite from San Antonia El Grande Mine, Chihuahua, Mexico. (© photo by Gabriele L. Berndt).|
|29. "Onion dome on a Russian church" (4.3 cm high) – "Malachite ... from Kerouchen, Morocco. Heliodor specimen Wonderful aesthetics and an uncanny resemblance to an onion dome on a Russian church" (Scovil, 2010, p.139) (© photo by Jeff Scovil).|
30. "Candelabra" (overall size ~ 25 x 23 x 15 cm) – red, white, and blue, color-zoned tourmaline (elbaite) crystals with quartz, albite and lepidolite from the Tourmaline Queen mine, near Pala, San Diego County, California. NMNH #132377. (© photo by Dane Penland; courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution). A photograph of another fine predominantly tourmaline and quartz mimetolith, the "Steamboat," may be seen in Dietrich (1985 -- Plate IV, Figure IVb )
(greatest dimension ~4 cm) – natrolite from vug in pillow basalt,
Robertson Pit, near Dayton, Mason County, Washington. Additional
information about the specimen is on the following web site:
30b. "Snowball"/or/"Puffball" (diameter 4 cm) - natrolite from Prospect Park, New Jersey, in collection of the Department of Geology, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York. (© photo by George Robinson). ¶ This entry has been added in response to viewers inqueries asking why an Okenite "snow- or puff-ball mimetolith" was not included in this compilation. The attached natrolite seems to fill this deficiency until someone supplies an okenite example.
Although most of the mimetoliths illustrated in the Loose Stones, Miscellany and À la carte groups are rocks, only those shown here as Figures 31 through #39a seem best designated simply as Rocks and Rock Specimens.
|Rocks and Rock Specimens
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|31. "Owl eyes" (width ~16 cm) is orbicular granite from the Matopos Granite, near Rhodes' Grave, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). Owl collection of Margaret Gibson, Corlette, New South Wales, Australia. (© photo by Craig Gibson).|
|32. Graphic granite: Left, sphere (diameter - 9 cm) from the Little Three mine, Ramona, San Diego County, California; right, plane surface of a specimen, locality unknown. Patterns exhibited by these rocks are widely described as resembling letters of the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets or cuneiform inscriptions; indeed, non-English names that are given these rocks in several languages reflect this perception -- e.g., French - pierre hébraïque and German - Schriftgranit. (© photos by David London, University of Oklahoma).|
|33."The Fallen Queen" the shape of which resembles that of a queen chess piece; length of slab (clicked image) - 12.5 cm; the entity in the thumbnail "seems to be a fragment of a crinoid column, probably from near the top of the column where it joins the crown. The alternation of wide and narrow columnals [(stem segments)] occurs in several genera and quick perusal of the Treatise volumes suggests that the specimen may have been a member of the Flexibilia. All the debris in the slab is echinodermal, with various fragments and orientations of columnals." (J. Thomas Dutro, Jr., personal communication, 2007). The slab is said to have been collected from Mississippian strata exposed on the C.B. Lambert Ranch at San Saba in central Texas. (© photo by Mel Hixson).|
|34. "Wow! -- I am startled." polished slab (greatest dimension -15 cm) of Cycadoidea armor showing cones with leaf bases. From a conglomerate of the Cedar Mountain Formation northwest of Moab, Utah. (© photo by Richard Dayvault).|
|35. "E.T." weathered surface of a block (width ~ 40 cm) of a silificifed concretionary sandstone, termed "swirly sandstone" by Dayvault and Hatch (2005), of the Cedar Mountain Formation just west of Arches National Park, northwest of Moab, Utah. (© photo by Richard Dayvault). A Second One is shown on the clicked image: "E.T. winking at you" or "E.T. with eyepatch" a cobble (height ~ 7.5 cm) of dolostone from a pit southeast of Rudyard, Michigan. (© photo by Dick Dietrich)|
|35a. "Stone face" (=
DOĞAL TAŞ YÜZ) -- specimen (6.5 x 7.8 cm) picked up in "karain
cave" Antalya, Turkey. The specimen is designated as jasper by the
owner; according to a report of the Ankara University Earth
Science Application and Research Center, the rock "is mainly composed
of chalcedony, trydimite and quartz minerals." The owner
notes that "I am sure the stone face is formed by natural
processes" (H.B. Bostanci, p.c. 2012), and, in additional
responses to my inquiries, he has said that it shows no sign of carving
other kind of fashioning by humans. (©
photo by H.B. Bostanci).
|36. Butte -- Potsdam Sandstone cone (width - 25 cm) formed either as shear cone during post-glacial doming/sheeting or as the result of man-imposed percussion. Specimen from Michael W. Johnston of Hammond, St. Lawrence County, New York. (© photo by Dick Dietrich).|
|37. "Between Worlds" (height ~ 20 cm), noted as "A convergence of cultural and religious symbology." An unidentified rock exposure in Santa Monica Mountains, near Ventura, California. (© photo j. Madison Rink, http://www.rinkarte.com/PrimitiveNature/TheShaman.html).|
37a. "Tribal Island: existential sleep" (height ~ 40 cm; width ~ 12.5 cm) An unidentified rock exposure in the Santa Monica Moutains, near Ventura, California (© photo j. Madison Rink, http://www.saatchi-gallelry.co.uk/showdown/ index.php?showpic=204022 ). This photograph is described as "inspired and influenced by the antique tribal and Asian Art created by the aboriginal peoples from around the world." To me, there is something Easter Island about it - a primitive power(?).
|38. "Monkey's face" (leaves give scale). This mimetolith consists of three juxtaposed stromatoliths in the Cambrian Hoyt Limestone in Saratoga County, New York. They are preserved in Lester Park, a natural history site of the New York State Museum. Attention was directed to these stromatolites by John Steele, in 1825, in his notes about the mineral waters of the famous springs of the area. I first found out about them some 70 years ago, while talking with Winifred Goldring, then state paleontologist of New York State. (© photo courtesy Wendell Mohr).|
|39 "Human footprint" mimetolith (knife gives scale) in unidentifed rocks said to be more than 100 million years old in Oklahoma --see Monroe, 1987. (© 1975, Oklahoma Today magazine. Reprinted with permission).|
|39a Kikkaseki, "stone/rock of chrysanthemum flower" ("flower" width ca. 2.7 cm), from Gifu Prefecture, central Japan -- a metamorphic rock that contains clusters of carbonate crystals (dolomite, calcite and/or aragonite) arranged in a radial manner. (© photo courtesy Nobuo Ishihara).|
Most stones that are viewed as mimetoliths are tektites or beach- or stream-abraded stones; a few are ventifacts -- i.e., stones that have undergone wind erosion. All of those illustrated are just as they were picked up -- i.e., they have undergone no preparatory procedures.
Several resemblance-based adjectives are applied to tektites. In most cases, each is followed by a hyphen and the word "shaped." Along with those noted in the caption of Figure 40, additional fairly common designations include ball, bean, bowl, button, disk, gherkin, hourglass, mushroom, and pear as the first word of the hyphenated adjective -- e.g., ball-shaped . . . .
Click thumbnail to see larger image.
|40. Tektites. Upper row (left to right) -- peanut-shaped indochinite; lens-shaped australite (diameter - 2.4 cm), typical of those formerly called "emu eyes" by Australian aborigines and "Blackfellows' buttons" by some of the early white settlers of Australia; dumbell-shaped phillipinite; and cudgel-shaped australite. Bottom row -- diverse teardrop-shaped tektites from different localities. (© composite made up of images from a photo by David Britain).|
Several water worn stones, ranging in size from small pebbles to large boulders, have shapes that resemble other things. Also, as already mentioned, some loose stone mimetoliths are ventifacts. The ever increasing list of things "seen" as imitated -- along with those noted in captions of the illustrations -- include the following, each of which I have seen or otherwise verified: ape's head, coins (discs), eyes (e.g., thomsonite "eyestone" pebbles), a heart, "Indian beads" (e.g., segments of fossil crinoid "stems"), a Laplander's hat (or shoe), a loon, a man on a donkey, a number of letters (e.g., F, S, & D – see illustration in the GNEISS entry of the "GemRocks . . ." pages) and numbers (e.g., 5, 7, & 8 and the Roman numeral 20 -- i.e., XX), diverse mushrooms, Pinocchio, "Really?" (a questioner), a smiling fraternal elk with his fez on, a sprinter crossing the finish line, a tadpole, George Washington's bust, "toothy bald man," and a whale. In addition (not seen by me), a recently described meteorite (Anon. Sports Illustrated. 2003. 98(#19):24) seems to be a mimetolith that belongs in this group: Along with an illustration, it is reported: ". . . 'home plate meteorite.' The 18-by-18-inch space-rock . . . fell in a meteorite shower 1,000 years ago in Chile and is expected to fetch $65,000- $80,000 at auction. Its owner, Darryl Pitt . . . acquired the piece from London's Natural History Museum partly because it looked like home plate. 'That hadn't occurred to the cricket-playing British,' says Pitt, who hopes a big league team enters the bidding. 'The Houston Astros would be a natural.' he says."
Note: The stones shown in Figures 41a through 41f were collected from ancient and present-day beaches on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, Michigan (those shown in Figures 41a through 41d are taken from photos by David Darst).
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|41a. Left, "Butterfly and reeds," Oriental brush painting (specimen height ~ 5.5 cm) - chert with bryozoan fossils(?) constituting dark areas; right, "Chinese pagoda" - transection of a fossil crinoid stem in limestone.|
|41b. Left, "Potato head" (height - 5 cm) limestone ; right, "Cyclops" dolomitic limestone, the eye of which is a coral, Class Anthozoa, Order Tabulata(?).|
|41c. Top, "Petroglyph" (greatest dimension - 5.5 cm) - image consists of two different corals: "critter" is coral or bryozoan, otherwise unidentified; underscoring consists of tabulate coral fossils. Bottom: Left, "Star-eyed smiling, grouper" - the star eye is a cross-section of a crinoid columnal; right, "Moon fish" - the eye is a relatively simple ring-shaped crinoid columnal.|
|41d. "Marshmallow rabbit" (greatest width - 6.5 cm) Easter treat - calcite-cemented sandstone.|
41e. "Michigan's lower peninsula" (height - 9 cm.) - both the pattern, an unidentified coral, and the "background" rock are dolostone; stone is from a beach on Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan; the photo is reversed in order to exhibit this image. (© photo by Dick Dietrich). A similarly shaped granitic rock that was found near Weidman, Isabella County, Michigan and its caption is also shown when this thumbnail is clicked. It also seems noteworthy that another rock with the general shape of the lower peninsula of Michigan was found by Harry Diehl in Broomfield Township, Isabella County (see Razenberger, 2005). These mimetoliths are especially interesting because they are mimetoliths, thought by their collectors to resemble Michigan's lower peninsula, which is a large geographic/geologic feature that is, itself, a mimetolith, that resembles a mitten.
|41f. "Mother and child" (height - 4.5 cm.) - highly weathered sliver (greatest thickness - 5 mm) of fine-grained limestone from highlevel wind-eroded beach deposit on Beaver Island, Antrim County, Michigan. An impure iron-cemented quartzite collected on the Lake Superior beach at Whitefish Point, Luce County, Michigan serves as the background in the clicked image. (© photo by Dick Dietrich).|
|42. "Conehead" (eight - 6.7 cm) was a loose stone in the soil of a garden near Gros Cap Rd., Moran Township, Mackinac County, Michigan. It is a dolostone (widely referred to as dolomite, the name of its chief constituent). One of the viewers of this stone, a former resident in the southeastern United States, indicated that he would have called it ". . ." -- i.e., by three (3) of the 11th letter in the alphabet.|
"Madonna" (height - 7.3
cm) - cobble of sandstone (Potsdam Sandstone) found in
cobblestone-veneered landscape highlight in Alexandria Bay,
Jefferson County, New York. This stone is Potsdam Sandstone,
which is the bed rock of relattively large areas within the region (The
St. Lawrence River Lowlands). That rock is one
of my favorites because the formation is the cellar floor of my
parents' home while I was a youth; our water came from a well in
formation; ripple surfaced flagstones, which were among the
sidewalks of the village, provided exhilarating feelings and sounds as
I roller skated across them; it is the facing rock of the
church where my wife of more than sixty years and I were married;
. . .
The "Madonna" designation for this
mimetolith was suggested by our daughter, Krista. And alternative
name is "Stan Laurel, Winking."
|42a. "Chicken (width ~ 50 cm.) and its eggs" - fieldstone, which consists largely of the the granitic portion of a migmatite, that was collected from glacial deposits. The "eggs," apparently attained their shapes during glacio-fluvial transportation. All were collected by Gale Willoughby in Isabella County, Michigan. (© photo by Dick Dietrich).|
|42b. "American Indian grooved axe head" (length ~ 20 cm.). This fieldstone consists of grantic gneiss transected with quartz veins or granitic dikelets, the latter of which were weathered in relief, likely before it was carried by "Ice Age" glaciers into Isabella County, Michigan where it was found by Gale Willoughby. (© photo by Dick Dietrich).|
|43. Makapansgat jasperite cobble (height ~ 8 cm). This cobble is described as a manuport because its diverse markings have been shown by "detailed microscopic analysis" to be natural -- i.e., neither made by nor modified artificially. It was found in South Africa at a site to which it was carried "either by Australophithecus africanus, or by an as yet unknown hominid" "between two and three million years" ago. Additional information and references about this cobble are on the web site: http://mcw.vicnet.net.au/home/portable/web/manuport.html. (© photo by R.G. Bednarik).|
44a. " Duck" - This bas-relief form, which resembles the head and neck of a duck, consists of chert on dolostone. The overall stone has a greatest dimension of ~7 cm. The specimen was found by Mary Margaret ("Diggy") Brown Clement in a deposit that probably represents a former lakeshore environment in the area, now several feet above lake level, near the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan. (© photo by Dick Dietrich).
|44b. "Frog" - i.e., a squashed roadkill(?) frog (longest dimension of host cobble -- see clicked image -- ~16 cm), from Rockport, Alpena County, Michigan. This "frog" is a remnant of a fossil solitary rugose coral; the cobble is a limestone with shale partings, apparently derived from the Devonian Traverse Group of the Michigan Basin Sequence. The specimen was found by Elizabeth Shaw Antkowiak in what I suspect is beach desposit of ancestral Lake Huron when it was at a higher level during post-Pleistocene isostaic rebound in response to deglaciation of the region. (© photo by Elizabeth Antkowiak).|
|45. "Samurai Stone" (greatest dimension - 4.3 cm). The white exhibited by this limestone pebble, which Maziar Nazari sees as resembling a 'samurai' (and our mutual friend, George Robinson, sees as an 'angel'?), is the remains of the 'petals' or ambulacral areas of the echinoid Echinolampus sp. found in the Alborz Mountains, north of Tehran, Iran. (© photo by Maziar Nazari, Azad University of Ashtiyan, Tehran, Iran)..|
|46. "The Nosey Neighbor" (height ~11.5 cm) from a dry creek bed in Central Kentucky. (© photo by Michael Capek, www.aestheticsense.org)|
47a. "Yonny" of Hessel (greatest width ~60 cm). This dolostone boulder is between a summer home and its parking area at Hessel, Mackinac County, Michigan. It was apparently a residual boulder from a nearby field. ¶ The name was given because the stone resembles the so-named hand puppet of Señor Wences (WENCESLAO MORENO - 1896-1999), who manipulated his partly painted and clenched left hand as Yonny's head as he and the puppet had conversations -- the Señor with his deep voice, the puppet with the Señor's high falsetta ventriloquistic responses .
47b. "Tough Guy" (height ~5.5 cm). This dolostone pebble was found at Hessel, Michigan (collection of Joan Smith).
|48. "Alien" (height ~3.8 cm). Found "among one ton of 'Scottish pebbles' I bought for my garden... so ... must have come from Scotland if the company followed trade description rules." (© photo and quotation by Mark Cory)|
49 “Rocks with faces” - clicked image includes four of these stones: A.“Sleeping rock,” B. unnamed (= the thumbnail), C.“The alien and ” D. “A Picasso.” Each of these stones, which range from small pebble to small boulder in size, was collected near Fanny Bay, on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. (© photos by Glen Peters, the collector)
Others in the literature: The following "hand specimen size" mimetoliths do not fit readily into either of the above subgroups: Aragonite, Barite and Gypsum roses -- for illustrations of these features, see Figure 51, below, and photographs on the following web sites, respectively -- math.cochise.edu/~mathsci/phpwiki/index.php/Aragonite%20Rose & www.greatsouth.net/p-.M102.html. The fact that barite roses, sometimes called "rose rock," is the state rock of Oklahoma is of interest so far as these "roses." Concretions -- diverse concretions such as imatra stones, which have been seen to resemble several things such as buttons (see Figure 52, below); so-called sand spikes from Imperial County, southern California (Sanborn, 1976, p.82); and septaria, of which small ones have been called "beetle stones" and larger ones, as "turtle backs" (see Figure 53, below). Liesegang bands -- see Figure 55, below. Pele's hair -- natural, typically brown-colored glass hairs some with diameters measuring less than a half millimeter and some with lengths measuring up to a couple meters (see Figure 56, below); an anecdote indicates how much these may resemble animal hair -- a handful I collected in Hawaii, before it became a state, was shipped along with several other rocks back stateside was confiscated (apparently by a Department of Agriculture inspector, who replaced it with a note to the effect that "hair is organic and can not be shipped into the United States"). Pele's tears -- small nearly spherical or tear-shaped glassy masses commonly associated with Pele's hair.
Several additional rocks exhibit diverse mimicking forms and "scenes;" a few are described and a few illustrated, in the "GemRocks" file on this web site -- e.g., see the succeeding listed resemblance-based terms under in the following entries: AGATE- eye, oxeye, owl-eye, flame, fortification, frost, joshua tree, moss, pagoda(stone), plume, polka dot, pom pom, ruin, snake skin, star, topographic (also, photographs of a few of these are also given in Appendix B of this file); AMPHIBOLE ROCKS - Arizona zebra stone; ARGILLITE - zebra rock; BRECCIA - ruin aragonite and ruin marble; CHLORASTROLITE - turtle back; CONGLOMERATE: puddingstones; DATOLITE - sugar stone; THE JADES - leopard, morning dew, moss in snow, snowflake; JASPER - leopardskin, picture, poppy-patterned, scenic, zebra; LEOPARDITE and LEOPARD ROCKS; MARBLE, . . . - landscape and ruin marbles and limestones; OBSIDIAN - Apache tears, peanut, snowflake; PORPHYRY - Chinese writing stone, chrysanthemum stone, mouse-track porphyry, flowerstone (etc.); RHODONITE - spider web; RHYOLITE - birdseye; SANDSTONE - picture, scenic; SEPTARIUM - the aforementioned beetle stones and turtle backs; TURQUOISE - cobweb, spider web, and turtle back turquoise matrix; [and] VARISCITE - turtle back.
It also seems noteworthy that several fairly common fossils or their parts are frequently referred to by names of something they resemble -- e.g., brain, chain, and horn corals, and Iowa's state fossil, crinoids, which are frequently referred to as "sea lillies." In addition, some scientifically accepted generic and species names have been based on things the fossils were seen to resemble -- e.g., the bryozoan Archimedes (generic name), which has a shape that resembles a device widely credited to Archimedes (ca. 287-212 B.C.) that was used in the mideast, especially in ancient Egypt, to remove bilgewater from boats and to lift water from streams to irrigate nearby lands (see Figure 57).
In addition, it should be recalled that a fairly large number of mineral and rock specimens have been identified as pseudofossils because they resemble certain fossils. -- The already twice-mentioned septaria, which have been frequently been misidentified as fossil turtles (see Figure 53), are but one example.
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|51. Gypsum rose, also called "Desert Rose," as depicted on a Tunisian postage stamp. (© photo of stamp by Richard Busch, (see stampmin.home.att.net/), used by permission).|
|52. Imatra stones (Finnish - imatrankivi). For untold decades, these mimetolithic "stones" (a type of carbonate oconcretion) have been characterized as petrified money (etc.) and used as toys and trinkets (each named on the basis of its fancied, imitative shape). Historically important lithographs and heliographs and a photograph of a few of these concretions are shown, along with their captions, when this thumbnail is clicked.|
|53. Septarium concretions, such as this one (coin gives scale) in the Beaver Island Museum, St. James, Michigan, have frequently been misidentified, and even mislabeled in collections(!), as fossil turtles. (© photo by David Darst).|
|54. "Twin Peaks," a concretionary mass of calcite (greatest dimension ~ 7.5 cm) from Cretaceous shale in the Shelby-Cut Bank area of northern Montana. This mimetolith, Stewart Monroe's "worry stone," has been seen to resemble diverse features including a pair of volcanic cones with breached craters. (© photo by Sue Monroe).|
|55. "Bull's eye" (diameter of outer ring ~ 6.5 cm) liesegang rings or bands, which are the thin reddish brown iron-rich (hematite and/or goethite and/or "limonite") zones in this lighter colored sandstone, from an unknown locality. (© photo by Sue Monroe).|
|56. Pele's hair. "Hundreds of strands . . . intertwined on the surface of a pahoehoe [ropy lava] flow at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. The glass strands were erupted from Mauna Ulu, a shield that formed on the east rift of Kilauea between 1969 and 1974." (http://volcanoes. usgs.gov/Products/Pglossary). (photo by D.W. Peterson, U.S. Geological Survey).|
|57. "Archimedes screw" - Top left, diagram of water-screw invented by Archimedes about 2250 years ago (drawn after diagrams in a number of publications); top right, sketch of Archimedes sp. , a bryozoan (redrawn after sketch in "North America index fossils," 1944 edition); bottom, fossil and matrix (block ~13 x 8 cm) from Mississippian age strata of Missouri. (© photo by Sigmund J. Kardas, Jr., used by permission from www.kardas.net/Fos).|
|58. Sakura ishi - "Cherry Blossom
(average diameter ~6 cm) from Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture,
Japan. Masutomi Museum specimens. The "stones" are sericite
pseudomorphs after sixling twins of cordierite; minor amounts of
hematite give the reddish hue evident in some of these
specimens [ see also, Koivula
(2015) ]. (© photo by John Rakovan).
|59. "Seahorse" - This composite (height ~8 cm) consists of calcite crystals (back, etc.), calcite-cemented mud/sand (body), and part of a Mercenaria permagna (Conrad 1838) shell (tail) from the Pleistocene Nashua Formation. It was collected at Rucks' Pit in Fort Drum, Okeechobee County, Florida. (© photo by Mickey Cecil)|
|60. “Alien skull fossil”
- Calcite deposit on mudstone of the Jurassic-Cretaceous “Great Valley
sequence,” collected at Knoxville-Berryessa Road, Napa County,
California. (© photo by Marc Leukhardt)
|À la carte
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|Àlc1B. "Soft boild egg" with a fire opal yolk. This specimen of M. Budil, which is from Mezezo, Shewa Province, Ethiopia, was exhibited at the Münchner Mineralientagen 2005; the large (clicked) photograph was originally published in the Novembere Décembre 2005 issue of "Le Règne Minéral" along with the following caption -- i.e., a free translation of the caption: A welcome bit of humor that is one of Mother Nature's marvelous constructions. -- You have to admit, however, that if humans didn't eat soft-bioled eggs, this specimen would be only an obvious banality.]] (© photo by Louis-Dominique Bayle; digital file furnished by Eloïse Gaillou, gemologist at the University of Nantes; reprinted here with permission from L.-D. Bayle).|
|Àlc2B. "Grapefruit rock" -- although "breaks in the 'segments' display a reddish color, ... [and thus it is off-color so far as its grapefruit-like appearance, this specimen (diameter ~13 cm)] resembles in size, shape ... a partially peeled grapefruit with five segments and a rind" (Robert Mansfield, personal communication, 2006).; found in the bed of Dry Creek, Hardin County, Tennessee. In any case, the specimen "appears to be the internal mold of a spatangoid echinoid" (J.Thomas Dutro, personal communication, 2007). Fay Myhan collection. (© photo by Robert Mansfield).|
Àlc3B. "Frosted jelly-filled donut" ( diameter ~18 cm). This fieldstone is from glacially transported debris in eastern Michigan. The parent rock was part of the Lorrain Formation of Ontario. The "frosting" -- suggested as resembling strawberry cream -- is widely referred to as jasper puddingstone. The rest of the stone is quartzite -- a metamorphosed sandstone member of the formation. This stone is in the collection of Patty Peek of St. Ignace, Michigan. (© photos by Dick Dietrich)
|Àlc1L. "Bunyan's burger" (height ~ 1.5 m), also called "Hamburger Hill," is an erosional remnant (a concretion, I suspect) in the North Coyote Buttes area of the Paria Wilderness in northern Arizona. One story promulgated about this mimetolith is that that Paul Bunyan dropped this sandwich when he became confused during a sandstorm, and it subsequently was petrified. (© photo by John Schwieder, www.wildernesspics.com).|
|Àlc2L "Hot dog" -- i.e., frankfurter/weißwurst (length -11.3 cm). This abraded piece of a colonial coral (Class Anthozoa, Order Scleractinia) was picked up from a "wash" on a beach on the south side of Aruba of the Netherlands Leeward Islands of the south Caribbean Sea. (© photo by Dick Dietrich).|
|Àlc3L "Meatball sandwich" (width, as shown, ~ 20 cm), a loose stone that was found by Holly Spurlock about three miles south of the Elk Creek, Glenn County, California. It consists of sandstone, the "bread" layers of which are well cemented and hard whereas the "metaballs" are a softer sandstone. These sandstones are part of the Great Valley Group (Stewart Monroe, p.c., 2011). (© photo by Clara Osborne)|
Àlc4L/1D. "Malachite, mushroom-shaped concretions, 7.0 x 6.5 cm, from the mashamba West mine, Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Boniscoli specimen 4089". Photograph previously published in "Rocks & Minerals" -- see Pagano, 2014 in the References Cited. (© photo by Jeff Scovil).
Àlc2D. "Cauliflower florets" are frequently used to sample hors d'oeuvre dips. These mimetoliths are the mineral kutnahorite (height of larger one 6.2 cm ) from the Wessels Mine, Hotazel, Kalahari Manganese Field, Northern Cape Province, South Africa; specimens in collection of Becky Sterbentz. (© photo by Jeffrey A. Scovil, email@example.com). [This photograph previously appeared in Scovil (2016).]
|Àlc3D. "Leg of lamb - with lots of fat" (length ~18 cm). This section of a quartz vein, with the "meat" surface on the end consisting of a natural "iron oxide" (hydroxide?), was found in Fountain Hills, east of Scottsdale, Arizona. (Unlike the fare represented by the mimetoliths shown as Figures Àlc3 & Àlc4, this one is for the gourmet.) Mary Lofgren collection, Green Lake, Wisconsin. (© photo by Maria K. Dietrich).|
|Àlc4D. "Baked potato, ready for sour cream or topping of your choice. This limestone beach stone (length ~5 cm) was found on the beach that is along the shore of Lake Huron on the southern edge of the Rest Stop just east of the junction of Rte 48 with Rte. 134. (© photos by Dick Dietrich).|
|Àlc5D. "Half a potato - plenty for some, better than none for others" (height, from flat surface to top of "dome" ~ 45 cm). This stone is quartzite apparently glacially transported into the area during the late "Ice Age." Whether it was rounded before that transport or later -- e.g., while it was on a beach of a higher level, post-glacial phase of Lake Huron -- and also the time and process(es) responsible for formation of the flat surface are unknown. In any case, that surface was present when the stone was found by Edmund Massey in his garden in St. Ignace, Michigan; the stone is now in his and his wife's collection of stones. (© photos by Dick Dietrich).|
As already implied, mineral and rock specimens the names of which are preceded by color adjectives related to, for example, flowers (e.g., rose or lilac) are not mimetoliths. Contrariwise, specimens that consists of two or more colors, the patterns of which resemble some animate or inanimate object, are mimetoliths -- see definition 1.b. Three examples are 1) graphic granite, also known as runite and by similar names in several non-English languages -- all names are based on the fact that this rock, which consists of quartz "rods" within a continuum of a potassium feldspar, exhibits a pattern that roughly resembles letters of cuneiform inscriptions or letters of the Hebrew or Arabic alphabets when cut perpendicular or nearly so to the lengths of the rods (see Figure A in the GRAPHIC GRANITE entry of the GEMROCKS FILE as well as Figure 32 in this file). 2) Orbicular rocks, the orbicules of which have certain arrangements -- when broken or sliced these rocks may exhibit forms such as those shown in Figure 31 and in Figure D in the GRANITE entry in the GEMROCKS file. [and] 3) Kikkaseki, the Japanese name of which translates as "stone/rock of chrysanthemum flowers" -- as can be seen (Figure 39), the designation is quite appropriate. The spotted olivine gabbro called troctolite (from the Greek), forellenstein (German), or troutstone (vernacular English) is another fairly well-kown -- at least by petrographers -- example; each of these names directs attention to the rock’s appearance, hand-specimens of which are typically speckled "like a trout." In addition, I cannot resist mentioning one of the most intriguing rock specimens I have ever seen: It is a hornblende syenite pebble that exhibits many diverse mimicking images, some consisting of dark hornblende surrounded by light pink feldspar, others the feldspar surrounded by the hornblende, still others involving both minerals so-to-speak in concert.
Calling specimens, such as the agates and jasper shown as Figures 61 through 79, mimetoliths appears to pose a problem for some people: They consider the fact that most such mimicking images have become apparent as the result of chance cuts by lapidaries rather than as the result of natural weathering to be unacceptable so far as calling these specimens mimetoliths. In my opinion, their problem is unfounded -- see definition 1.b. and the discussion at the end of the definition. To elaborate further on the essence of this "problem" -- these features, most of which have "come to light" as the result of chance (so-to-speak random), rather than predictable, cuts could have been exhibited as the result of weathering and erosion (e.g., see Figures 41 through 48 + 90); that is to say, the features were there(!!) -- they were only exposed, not put there, by the lapidary. Along this line, a lapidary, who had a rather sizeable display of such agates, told me that he was sure he had been predestined to find such agates and to make the correct cuts to find images they held. It seems especially noteworthy here that the history for the "owl" exhibited by the specimen shown as Figure 71 indicates its recognition was exceptional: "It was sold as rough material ... broke along a fracture plane ...[and it was] recognized that there was some form of pattern in [it, so the purchaser ] elected to grind the specimen instead of cutting it with a saw. The more he ground ... the more prevalent the image of the owl became." ( Brad Cross, personal communication, 2005). Also noteworthy: Gabriele Berndt sent photographs of additional agate slabs -- e.g., those that resemble "two roosters," a "little white dog" and a "dragon" -- I chose the ones shown as Figures 71, 73, 74 and 79 as my favorites; and Bob Beudry shows several agates, which he calls "Picture agates," that exhibit mimetoliths on his web site (www.fireagate.com) -- e.g., those that resemble an owl, deer, fish, sad clown, and even an eight-ball -- of which my panel and I chose the two shown as Figures 72 and 76 for inclusion on this site. In addition, it should be noted that some mimetoliths of this genre have been discovered by people while slicing and polishing thunder eggs.
also Appendix B.) and Jasper
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|61. "Virgin Mary" (height - 14 cm), a "Condor Agate," is from San Rafael , Mendoza Province, Argentina. www.rexpler.com.ar collection. (© photo courtesy of the Birnies).|
|62. This "Modernistic bust that so much resembles early Cycladic [southeastern Greek] sculpture was discovered when an agate boulder was cut and polished" (size not given) - quotation from Hurlbut (1970/1971); others -- e.g., Craig Gibson (personal communication, 2006) -- see it as looking "a bit like Munch's 'The Scream'." (photo by David Brittain: The 35mm transparency used for this scan is one of several that David Brittain, former CMU photographer (now deceased), obtained permission from Louis Zara (1910-2001) to reproduce from his Mineral Digest for my use.).|
|63. "Japanese Print" - Deschutes jasper from north-central Oregon (height - 5.0 cm). (© photo by Kevin N. Daniel).|
|64. "The [Comedy] Mask" (diameter - 6 cm) agate from a gravel pit near the Uruguay River in Province de Entre Rios, Argentina. www.rexpler.com.ar collection. (© photo courtesy of the Birnies) -- A correspondent suggests that it "looks more to me like 'The Joker' from the Batman series and movies -- [especially like] Jack Nicholson in the role from the 1989 movie."|
|65. "Hear Ye?" - ear-shaped agate (height ~ 5 cm). This cut and polished Lake Superior agate from Keweenaw Point, Michigan, along with its uncut bottom area, roughly resembles a human ear. Seaman Museum, Michigan Technological University. (© photo by John Jaszczak; specimen collected and polished by Robert J.Barron).|
|66. "Laughing Cyclops" [i.e., "Cíclope Sonriente"] (diameter - 8 cm) agate from Neuquén Province, Patagonian Region, Argentina. www.rexpler.com.ar collection. (© photo courtesy of the Birnies).|
|67. “Leaping Lena, the cloud-hopping angel” – notice that her name, spelled backwards (i.e., an[g]el) emphasizes her status – (egg height - 8 cm). The white form has also been seen as resembling a youngster with water wings jumping into a body of water. (© photo by Claude Pelisson, http://www.oeufspolis.com/a_/info.html).|
|68. "Face" (width ~ 10 mm). Jasper from the Urals, where the Russians call it "agate-jasper." Cut and polished by goldsmith Vasili Litchidov, now in the Netherlands, while in Uzbekistan (formerly USSR). (© photos by Vasili Litchidov).|
|69. "Beach Scene" agate as pendant (height - 3.5 cm), set in sterling silver. Beach with sporadic brownish material (seaweed? and/or jetsam? and/or whatever?), bluish sea and puffy clouds in the lighter colored sky above the horizon. (© photo by Lori Provo Coogan). The clicked image has the pendant tilted so the "horizon" is nearly horizontal.|
|70. "Paradise Island" agate from near Nuevo Cassa Grande, Chihuahua, Mexico. This cloud-topped island is, as can be seen on the complete specimen, which is shown tilted so the coastline is horizontal, as the "clicked" image, is a fine cabochon (width - 5.2 cm). (© photo by Dave Salyer).|
|71. "Horse head" (height of slab -11 cm) agate from quarry Setz, Steinbach, Germany. (© photo and sketch on large image by Gabriele L. Berndt)|
|71a. "Horse" included in green moss agate from India ( height of slab shown in clicked image ~7 cm). Owner sees this as a horse swimming through seaweed. . (© photo by Michael P. Sousa)|
|72. "Coyote on Indian blanket" (width of specimen shown on clicked image, which shows complete slice framed by purple heartwood ~15 cm) Laguna agate. Collection of Bob Beaudry, Tucson, Arizona (© photo by Joseph J. Intili).|
|73. "The Feather" (height of specimen - 4.9 cm) agate from Sidi Rahal, Morocco. (© photo by Gabriele L. Berndt).|
|74. "Bird" (height of specimen - 6 cm) agate from Neuquén Province, Patagonian Region, Argentina. (© photo by Gabriele L. Berndt).|
|75. "Apache Hooded Owl" (height of "owl" ~ 5 cm) agate from Rancho La Vinata, Ejido el Apache, Chihuahua, Mexico; Brad L. Cross collection. Photo (and piece), which "have not been 'retouched' in any way. [i.e.,] It is 100% natural." is part of announcement in "Rocks & Minerals" (80:45) of the 2005 (42nd International) Mineral, Gem and Fossil Show in Munich. (© photo by Wayne Baker; permission B.L.Cross; courtesy of Johannes Keilmann, Show coordinator).|
|76. "The Blue Rooster" or "The Rooster Crowing at the Sun" (diameter of piece ~ 5.3 cm) plume agate from Hindus India Valley, India -- mined in 1996 and bow cut. Collection of Bob Beaudry, Tucson, Arizona (© photo by Joseph J. Intili).|
|77. "Praying Mantis" in Morrisonite jasper from south-eastern Oregon (greatest dimension 3.0 cm). (© photo by Kevin N. Daniel).|
|78. "Wheatgrass Flowers" - Owyhee jasper from south-eastern Oregon (height - 5.3 cm). (© photo by Kevin N. Daniel).|
|79. "The Roller-skate" (width of specimen - 17 cm) agate from Agùa Nùeva, Mexico. (© photo by Gabriele L. Berndt).|
Mimicking appearances of a few so-called mimetoliths of this size-group have been enhanced by dyeing and/or reshaping -- for two examples, see those that look like diverse foods that are illustrated in color in "A Thanksgiving I'll Never Forget" (see Cancalosi, 1990), and also those shown in the article "This Food's . . . a Rock Solid Hit" (National Geographic World, October 1990). In the latter, several rocks and minerals that resemble well-known foods are shown, but several have had their shapes modified so should not be considered to be mimetoliths per se. Yet another group of specimens that might be, but should not be named, mimetoliths comprises the "alphabet agates (etc.)" described and illustrated by Laurs (2003); the shapes of these letters (etc.) were fashioned by creative cutting of agates the layers of which were selectively stained.
Earlier designations -- In 1993, Edna
Hesthal of Santa
Barbara, California and Tadao Okazaki of Hobara, Fukushima, Japan
my attention to Suiseki, of which I was unaware before their contacts.
The definition for
Suiseki given in a Japanese dictionary (translated for me by Okazaki)
is "A stone or
a piece of rock for aesthetic appreciation. Usually displayed on a
water-filled tray or a
stand; [an] 'ornamental Stone'." And, apparently this
"art" has existed for untold centuries in Japan. In any case, it
seems to me that they are much more than the dictionary
indicates. At least they have evolved to included several other
things -- i.e., the photographs of suiseki sent to me by Hesthal, who
"viewing stones," resemble panoramic landscapes, other natural shapes
such as complete or parts
animals or vegetables (e.g., potatoes), but many are, in my opinion,
better characterized as abstract. Only a few that I have seen
either directly or in photographs are what I would call mimetoliths --
for examples, see Figure 80. Attention is also directed to the
polished marble pieces, widely referred to as "Dreamstones." Apparently
dating to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), these polished pieces are
described as "Amazing natural art ...[that] are unique pieces of stone,
primarily marble, ... from Cangshan Mountain in Yunan Province,
China. ... [that are] revered for their captivating imagery...
[-- e.g., ] their incredible depictions of the three-dimensional world
, for their colors, their beauty, and their symbolism." (International
Dali Dreamstone Association)
|Suiseki that are mimetoliths
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
80. Suiseki. left. top, sea horse's head; bottom, "lizard stone." (top © photo by Sally Gilmore; bottom © photo by Edna Hesthal; both courtesy of Edna Hesthal); right. top, snow-capped mountain (base sawed); bottom, desert landscape. (© photos by Sally Gilmore, courtesy of Edna Hesthal).
Anyone who wants to learn more about Suiseki could begin with the web site www.bonsai-nbf.org, continue by looking at another web site (www.felixrivera-suiseki.com/), etc. The latter site provides text and illustrations relating to the history and several other aspects of this "art." For example, I found that "Japanese formalized the art of suiseki by naming various rock forms and creating precise ways to display them. [and that] Stones of great beauty were cherished and placed in a Tokonoma (viewing alcove) to be contemplated. [because] It was thought viewing of suiseki helped stimulate the person, purify one's soul and uplift one's spirit."
Some suiseki have been modified by, for example,
sawing to give them
a flat base. Some so-to-speak purists consider such suiseki to be
inferior to those
that have not been so-altered. In my humble opinion, this seems
hair-splitting. Among other things, virtually all suiseki that
have sawn bases could
be mounted to show the same characteristics without being sawn.
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|81. Aragonite and siderite "flower" (diameter of "flower" ~ 5 mm). Specimen from Chastriex, Puy de Dôme, France. Josselyne Salle Collection. (© photomicrograph by Robert Vernet).|
|82. "Praying Innocent" chondrodite surrounded by a phlogopite-rich area (field ~ 1 x 1.5 cm). Part of a thinsection of the impure marble that occurs near the southern contact of the the Fish Creek phacolith of Macomb township, St. Lawrence County, New York (Dietrich, 1957). (© photomicrograph by Dick Dietrich).|
inclusion in a diamond. The "overall inclusions scene (~1
mm long) [that] shows a striking resemblance to a bird in flight" that
is "composed of a mineral (probably garnet) ... surrounded by tension
fractures." (Laurs, 2008). (© photomicrograph by Lori Provo Coogan, Cohasset
Jewelers, Cohasset, Massachusetts).
|84 "Bibendum," the Michelin Man (height ~1 mm). This individual is more than four times the size of most of those found; this is quite apparent in the left hand image one sees when this thumbnail is clicked. All these masses, which are kerogen, are from the Antrim Formation, near Traverse City, Michigan. (see Dietrich and Chyi, 1995). (photo by David Darst).|
|85. "Medusa quartz" - Jellyfish-shaped masses of gilalite (Cu5Si6O17·7H2O) like this one occur in quartz from Paraíba State, Brazil (Rondeau & Macri, 2005). Collection of Michele Macri, Italian gemologist. (© photomicrograph by Benjamin Rondeau, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France).|
Others in the literature: Three other microscopic features that may be considered mimetoliths are 1. "Whimpy" (also called "hamburger-on-a-bun") inclusions in Mexican opal -- see brief description and illustration in Crowningshield (1965); 2. a blue chalcedony that contains several red "inclusions" that is described in a news item in Volume I (1935, p.196) of Gems & Gemology as "'Blue Eagle chalcedony' ... because of its natural resemblance to the blue eagle emblem of the N.R.A. ... " [and] 3. the "Apollo space vehicle," an otherwise unidentified inclusion in amethyst, mentioned and illustrated by Liddicoat (1968).
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|90. "The Soul Stone" (height ~ 7 cm),
quartz-veined biotite gneiss cobble, described as a natural
cameo, was found in a back country stream southwest of Burnsville,
northwest of Mt. Mitchell, Yancey
County, North Carolina. Several viewers have suggested that this
resembles the "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) as played by Elsa
Lanchester. L. D. Fink who found the stone,
named it on the basis of its "mystical appearance" but adds that it
also looks like an Egyptian or Hun lady
who is looking at you over her shoulder. (©
photo by Lewis D. Fink). Mark S. Frumkin, a professional
jeweler and trained in hand engraving who has examined the stone,
thinks the pattern was hand enchased by someone using metal tools --
But, "the graver marks I found seemed to me to be as old as the
piece, almost as if it were done in another age or time. ... not
|91. Fish that, according to Dr. Cristobalo Campana (2005), had its eye and flipper "re-touched" by pre-Columbian indigenous people to make its original resemblance more obvious (Patricio Bustamante, personal communication, March, 2008). Further information is given (in Spanish) on the following web site: http://rupestreweb.info/pareidolia2.html (© photo).|
|92. Head of an eagle that, according to Dr. Cristobalo Campana (2005), had its eye and beak "worked" so its original resemblance to an eagle became even more evident (Patricio Bustamante, personal communication, March, 2008). Further information is given (in Spanish) on the following web site: http://rupestreweb.info/pareidolia2.html (© photo).|
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|100. Left. Airplane, inspired by the Jefferson Airplane Rock Group, which is near lower right of larger version that is seen when this thumbnail is clicked. Right. Derek Bostok, bearded man with his pipe, which is near center, right side of larger version; he is, by the way, a "Self portrait" of the microdrawing master, who "no longer uses a pipe!!" These diagrams are, respectively, portions of the covers of publications of McBirney, dated 1968 and 1969. (used with permission of A.R. McBirney).|
Click thumbnails to see larger images.
|110. "Little Devil" or "I didn't used to
look like this" [before the fight] (height
~ 5 cm) terrazzo. (©
photo by John Vonderlin).
|111. "Donald Mitch-Hitchcock" (height ~ 39 cm) exposed side of a faux stone in a masonry siding on a residence at Gros Cap, Michigan (© photo by Dick Dietrich).|
This, of course, leaves
one group of specimens that appear to fit somewhere in between
so-to-speak typical mimetoliths and synthektites -- i.e., angular
fragments of rocks
such as granite and rock gypsum that have been roughly tumbled to make
rounded and thus
resemble natural pebbles. Is there any end to this? ? ?
ROLE REVERSAL IMITATORS
Thoughts about imitators such as these have led to a number of questions being sent to me -- most, I suspect, with "tongue in cheek" -- asking whether they should be termed lithomimetes (or the like). -- My response is F0LDEROL! ! ! Call them what they are.
Frances S. Dietrich, Richard S. Dietrich, David Ginsburg, Emmett Mason, and J. Stewart Monroe critiqued different versions of the manuscript and suggested inclusion of some mimetoliths not treated in the versions they read. Reed Wicander identified the fossils shown in the "Loose stones" tabulation and sought out the original photographs that were scanned to prepare some of the illustrations. David Ginsburg also helped me find some of the cited references. The people and organizations who supplied illustrations are noted in the captions. I gratefully thank all of these people for their contributions.
First, the rest of the original Introduction:
Also, consider the following poem (which reads in part)
"Look, a cloud, the shape of a rose."
"Not so – it's either a seal
with a ball on its nose
or an elephant
balanced atop its toes."
"No, if not some flower,
it must be a large water tower
or perhaps an all-day lollipop."
"You both are wrong –
it's a northern loon,
laughing straight up
at a full harvest moon!"
. . . ."
and Dave Coverly's Speed Bump cartoon (dated 11/16/2002), which reverses the roles: two clouds are directing each other's attention earthward to a "lake [that] looks like an elephant" and a "clump of trees [that] looks like Peter Jennings." At about the same time, an obituary for the respected Harvard mineralogist, Clifford Frondel (1907-2002), recorded the fact that, after viewing a group of rocks brought back aboard Apollo from the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon, Cliff remarked, "It looked like a bunch of burned potatoes" (Long, 2002). Even more recently, Emmett Mason directed my attention to the July 21, 2003 entry on the web site antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html that showed a starfield photograph by Gary Stevens entitled "Reflection Nebula in Ophiuchius," which was described as resembling "an impressionistic painting?"; Emmett, however, wondered if it didn't resemble "a romanesque, goateed face -- maybe--eh?".
Is it any wonder that we, usually "down to earth" geologists, when we look at certain topography, rock exposures, rock and mineral specimens, and beach stones sometimes think, "That looks like a ... "? -- Certainly not!!! Imagination is not only one of the capacities that separates humans from other living beings: It is common; it is fun; and sometimes, as Burke’s (1940) lyrics go, "Imagination is funny; it makes a cloudy day sunny . . ."
Consequently, it came as a surprise -- indeed, a
shock -- to me when
one of our would-be professional spokesmen dismissed practices
exercises of the kind just mentioned in rather negative terms:
". . .
faced with the history, the psychology, and the obtuse logic of
describing minerals in
non-mineral terms, one can only conclude that it will continue despite
any complaints. The
best defense may simply be to see the humor in it all" (Wilson,
Fortunately, I think, Wilson's attitude is not held by many
educators). If it were, it might well serve to produce mental
blocks in the very
people whose curiosity, observations, and imaginations -- coupled with
their knowledge --
might otherwise formulate the new ideas and hypotheses that are so
important to the
advancement of our science. Along this line, see also
Many of us who are active in one or more of the subdisciplines of this diagnostic science called geology have long acknowledged the need for imagination as well as knowledge. We recognize the fact that so-called "uniformitarian clues" are not the skeleton keys that open the doors of insight into many important questions. Consequently, we lament the fact that many youngsters' imaginations seem to be stultified by elders who prefer conformity. So, we continually hope that at least some of the youngsters who will become future members of our profession will escape such desensitizing "lessons."
Some of us even think: What better way to escape such a dull fate than to collect rocks and minerals and stones, and while examining them to imagine that some of their shapes or other features resemble something else. Indeed, we think it is fortunate that rocks and minerals can be enhancers of imagination as well as attractions for our future professionals. In fact, some of us think this so-to-speak practice can also be of value for adults. -- Along this line, I have often wondered what it was that so excited the imagination of Karl Harry Ferdinand Rosenbusch, the philologist, that made him change his profession, which ultimately led to his laying the foundations of microscopic petrography and becoming recognized as the "Father of (Modern) Petrology" (Dietrich, 1990); was it something he saw while he was teaching in Brazil, something he saw or heard while listening to one of Bunsen’s lectures, what ??
Some of us have tried diligently to find ways to
attract students with good imaginations to our profession, and a few of
us have tried to
devise methods to enhance students’ imaginations. (By the way, the only
means I have
seen that seemed to help more than a few students was to have them
participate in some
hands-on Art (i.e., not art appreciation!) courses.) We
fully realized that
such efforts might lead to our losing some of those students; we
by thinking that should that happen at least those students would be
better prepared no
matter what career they might pursue. It is widely
professionals from other fields as disparate as the visual arts,
and sciences other than geology also recognize the important role of
The psychologist Barron (1958), for example, correlates imagination and
he considers to be the foundation of a creative act; among
other things, he
concludes -- on the basis of a study of a group that included
economists, painters, physicians, physicists, and writers --
are especially observant . . . they value accurate observation
the truth) more than other people do . . . they have more
ability to hold many
ideas at once, and to compare more ideas with one another – hence to
make a richer
synthesis." How can anyone doubt that these are the kinds of
people that we
need as petrologists, mineralogists, and other
it is a bit out of the context of his use, I ofen think of John
Muir;s widely quoted statement:
the Mountains: the Unpublished Journals of John Muir, edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe.
Boston, Houghton, Mifflin, 1938, p. 226.)
---------- >>>>>+++<<<<< ----------
Two people who have apparently thought more deeply about this subject that I have, upon critiquing either the manuscript of the column that appears in Rocks & Minerals or a draft of the text prepared for this text, brought up matters that warrant recording:
A. Robert Cook (personal.communication,1988) notes that imagination for some people is probably much more than mere recognition that something resembles something else -- "It is the combination of observational talent and the ability to analyze observations to the point of recognizing such resemblances . . . [that is to say,] to recognize a real resemblance requires a certain degree of analytical thought."
B. Another reader of a preliminary draft of this text thought that something I told him, but did not plan to include, should be recorded because "it might prompt some social scientist(s) to make some sort of a follow-up study that might determine why observers have certain predilections so far as seeing and identifying such features." So, briefly, here are the two general relationships that became evident to me during my review of the mimetoliths. (It seems prudent to note, however, that these relationships, are based on a small sample and do not take into account suiseki. Also, not being a social scientist, I see no reason to repeat my tentative interpretations or conclusions so far as possible implications of these observations.)
1. A large percentage of recorded mimetoliths have apparently been thought to resemble human beings or parts of human beings. -- And, in order of reported abundance, other mimetoliths, as I mentally group them, are manufactured items (e.g., soda straws); animals other than humans . . . ; and plants and parts thereof (e.g., blossoms).
2. More than seventy five percent of the mimetoliths to which my attention has been directed have apparently been thought to resemble animate beings (i.e., animals including humans) rather than inanimate objects (i.e., plants and manufactured items).
When anyone perceives the shape or some
visual characteristic of a mineral specimen, a rock or a geological
feature to look like something else (i.e., to be a mimetolith),
that person is, according to some people, experiencing pareidoliatic
apophenia. Apophenia is the perception of connections and, in
some cases also meaningfulness, between unrelated things;
pareidolia is a specific kind of apophenia that involves some
relatively vague stimulus, visual and/or aural, causing a person to
"see" and/or "hear" something else. The Rorschach Test is
frequently cited as an example of this phenomenon, which is widely
characterized as psychological.
opinion, the commonly published definition of pareidolia is
-- i.e., the "vague stimulus" should
include all the senses, NOT
just to those that are "visual
and/or aural". Certainly stimuli related to other senses also
people's thinking of something else!
only to think of experiences similar to those raised by questions such
Have you ever tasted something that made you think of
something else(?); have you ever smelled something that
think of something diferent from the scent you are actually
perceiving(?); have you ever ...(?). I
suspect -- indeed, would be willing to bet -- that nearly everyone
would answer such questions in the affirmative; in addition, they
might recall having heard others say such things as "It
feels like ..." -- i.e., something different from what it
actually is. I rest my case.
Keep your eyes and minds open: Look and see and use your imagination. Do not avoid recognizing mimetoliths just because someone may consider your doing so to indicate you are exercising "obtuse logic" or the like. Each mimetolith you conjure up may serve to improve your imagination, your future creativity, your future life . . . Imitator landscapes, rocks, minerals, and stones are relatively common. Please let me know about those you find; I shall try to continually update this web site file with some of the examples directed to my attention.
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The widespread occurrence of mimetoliths is clearly indicated by several terms that are rather widely applied by geologists, and a few of these terms are also used by non-geologists. Also, if prefixes and suffixes used for minerals and fossils were included, several additional terms could be listed. A few of the terms relate to senses other than visual perceptions – e.g., singing sand relates to auditory perceptions.
Some of the more common nouns and adjectives that come to mind are listed in alphabetical order in the following tables, with the terms that originated as foreign words, but are used widely in English-language publications, given in bold-face type. In addition, special attention is directed to the adjectives given the agates included in APPENDIX B.
Table 1. Nouns.
biscuit (lake b...)
blanket (ejecta b...)
blister (ice b...)
cone (volcanic c...)
coral (cave c...)
cornice (glacial c...)
dollar (barite d...)
|fan (alluvial f...)
flax (earth f...)
flour (glacial f...)
flower (cave f...)
gold (fool’s g...)
meal (glacial m...)
pearl (cave p...)
pillar (earth p...)
popcorn (cave p...)
rosette (barite r...)
varnish (desert v...)
wax (earth w...)
Table 2. Adjectives & nouns used as adjectives.
|bird's-eye (e.g., limestone)
armored mud ball
box (e.g., canyon)
bread-crust bomb (etc.)
cedar tree laccolith
Christmas tree laccolith
cone in cone structure
crescent lake (etc.)
dog-tooth spar (calcite)
en echelon folds
eye & eyebrow structure
fan coral, delta, etc.
hair pyrites, salt, etc.
ladder vein, etc.
landscape sandstone, etc.
layer cake geology
rice-grain habit (smithsonite)
Blood agate - blood-red, pink or salmon colored agate from Utah.
Cloud agate - light gray and off-white chalcedony with an overall pattern that roughly resembles clouds. Most examples I have seen have shapes etc.resemble thunder eggs.
Eye agate - agate with alternating, concentric color bands. The terms orbicular agate and Aleppo stone have also been applied to these agates, and agates with two "eyes" have been referred to as oxeye and owl-eye agates (cf. ring agate and polka dot agate.). Eye agates and ring agates (including onyx per se) fashioned to form "eye beads" are said to have been used in western Asia "since at least the third millennium B.C. as protective amulets to deflect the evil eye or neutralize its effect." (Dubin, 1987, p.307).
Flame agate - Two quite different agates have been called flame agate in the literature. Johnson and Koivula (1998) review and present fine illustrations of both. The following, with pertinent quotations from Johnson and Koivula (i.e., not directely from Sinkankas and Macpherson) briefly describe the appearances of these agates: 1. John Sinkankas (1959) described flame agate as a "highly translucent, colorless agate with few typical agate bands, but rather containing long streaks or 'flames' of a bright red color." The material he described came from Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua, Mexico. -- See Figure AppB4.a & b. 2. H.G. Macpherson (1989) applied the term flame agate to an "agate of any color in which the pattern resembles a candle flame." Many agates from many worldwide localities, if correctly fashioned, could be designated as flame agate under this definition. -- See Figure AppB4.c & d.
Fortification agate - agate with bands that resemble bastions (etc.) of ancient forts -- cf. riband agate and ruin agate, AGATE entry in GEMROCKS file. Noteworthy fortification agates have been collected from Fourth of July Peak, near Hassayampa, Maricopa County, Arizona. The Fairburn agate, also called fairburnite, which is the official state gemstone of South Dakota, is another fine example of this kind of agate; it occurs sporadically in gravels in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Frost agate (or frost stone) - translucent gray chalcedony that contains sporadic snowflake-like masses. A noteworthy occurrence is in the
Mojave Desert of California. Having never seen the Mojave Desert material or a photograph of it, I searched to find what I thought might be so-named. The central part of the agate shown in Figure AppB6 resembles frost on windows and would seem to be a likely candidate for such a designation.
Moss agate - subtransparent to subtranslucent, white, light gray, yellowish or greenish agate with green and/or brown to nearly red iron oxide and/or black manganese oxide arborescent inclusions that resemble moss, trees and/or landscapes. Some agates of this genre have been given additional adjectival modifiers that pertain to forms other than moss that they are thought to resemble -- e.g., bouquet, flower, landscape, seaweed, trees, and even gnat, midge and mosquito. Diverse moss agates have long been associated with Hindustan; Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming; and the bed of the Yellowstone River in Montana -- e.g., near Glendive, Dawson County, Montana.
Mushroom agate - cabochons,
beads, pendants have been marketed widely as as mushroom agate,
mushroom jasper and mushroom rhyolite, which is said to have been
metamorphosed. All, if indeed there are three differently
constituted ones, are said to come from Arizona. I have
seen only photographs of any of these, but all appear to be virtually
the same material. The photographs indicate that the pattern
of some of these pieces, as exhibited on polished surfaces, roughly
Plume agate - many agates that are so-named are special kinds of moss agate. Most consist largely of virtually colorless or light-colored, commonly bluish, agate with included sporadic red, yellow, yellowish brown or violet fluffy-appearing masses, some of which resemble plumes of, for example, egrets. The "plumes" of these agates from several different localities have been recorded variously as consisting of or pigmented by goethite, diverse individual manganese oxides or combinations thereof, realgar and/or orpiment. Some particularly well-studied plume agate occurs within thunder eggs of Saguache County, Colorado (see Figure A in THUNDER EGG entry, GEMROCKS file). Other fine examples have been collected near Prineville, Crook County, Oregon and south of Alpine, Brewster County, Texas.
Pom pom agate - agate containing pufflike clusters.
Ring agate - agate exhibiting concentric color bands -- cf. eye agate. However, this designation is also used in the marketplace for agates used in rings. As the pairs shown on Figure AppB9 indicate, the ring/eye-effect of at least some of these agates may be just a result of the fashioned shape -- i.e., they may be typical banded agates that have been cut to give the ring/eye appearance when viewed in certain directions.
Snakeskin agate - term applied to both silicified corals and chalcedony nodules whose surfaces roughly resemble the scaly pattern of some snakes' skins -- see FOSSILIFEROUS ROCKS entry.
Some readers have asked
why I do not include photographs of certain mimetoliths to which they
have directed my attention -- i.e., those shown as photographs in
periodicals. Upon receiving such suggestions, I have looked at
each of the indicated illustrations. Those considered
good additions, and for which I have been able to get permission to use
the photographs, are included. Unfortunately, however, a few
photographs considered worthy of inclusion have not been added because
publishers were unwilling to give such permission. Examples
1) the "Chrysocolla 'owl' agate" (Koivula & Tannous, 2003);
2) the one "resembling a palm tree ... [that is an] unusual etch channel ... in a 2.33 ct round brilliant diamond" (Nemirovskaya and Wang, 2006);
3) the "minute crystal formation (probably graphite) [which] is reminiscent of the 'flying saucers' often featured in early science fiction movies ..." in a diamond (Koivula and Onstott, 2008);
4) the "brownish green type1a diamond ... [in which a] hydrogen cloud has a unique three-dimensional shape reminiscent of a Venetian part mask" (Koivula and Dale, 2008);
5) the "columnar play-of-color pattern resembling ferns ... in black opal from Virgin Valley, Nevada" (Kellogg, 2009);
6) the "mushroom shape[ed pearl, which has ] ... underneath the cap [has] ... arching radial structures reminiscent of the 'gills' found in some actual mushrooms," (Hyatt, 2012 -- see Figure 7.)
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Last update: 14 February 2017
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