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Mysterious Glass Beads in Clams Point to Ancient Meteorite Strike Near Florida
Meteorite, Researches 6:46 PM
Glass beads were found inside fossil clams in a Florida quarry, and researchers believe that they’re the first particle evidence of ancient meteorite strikes in the area.
Researchers picking through the contents of fossil clams from a Sarasota County quarry found dozens of tiny glass beads, likely the calling cards of an ancient meteorite.
Analysis of the beads suggests they are microtektites, particles that form when the explosive impact of an extraterrestrial object sends molten debris hurtling into the atmosphere where it cools and recrystallizes before falling back to Earth.
They are the first documented microtektites in Florida and possibly the first to be recovered from fossil shells.
Mike Meyer was a University of South Florida undergraduate when he discovered the microtektites during a 2006 summer fieldwork project led by Roger Portell, invertebrate paleontology collections director at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
As part of the project, students systematically collected fossils from the shell-packed walls of a quarry that offered a cross-section of the last few million years of Florida’s geological history. They pried open fossil clams, washing the sediment trapped inside through very fine sieves. Meyer was looking for other tiny objects — the shells of single-celled organisms known as benthic foraminifera — when he noticed the translucent glassy balls, smaller than grains of salt.
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