The "What Is It?" page is our monthly challenge. Below you will find a photo or
a description of something related to geology, gems, minerals, or fossils. If you can guess what it is,
click the Contact Us link at the bottom of the page and send me an email telling me what you think it is.
The first person to answer correctly gets their name posted on this page. Answers will be given at our
monthly club meeting.
Unfortunately, there has been little response to the
"What Is It?" Challenge, so this feature has been
suspended for now. However, you can
Click here to see the archive of past
"What Is It?" challenges.
The "What Is It?" Challenge for October/November, 2012:
For this month's challenge, we are going to depart form the usual.
Seashells are often used in jewelry and frequently appear as fossils, so sometimes the subject of
seashells gets discussed in Gem and Mineral Society meetings. Where you aware that some seashells are
right-handed, and some are left-handed? Above is a picture of a Lightning Welk.
Is this Lightning Welk right-handed or left-handed?
How can you tell the difference?
(Bonus Question) What is the righ-handed/left-handed phenomenon called?
Wanna take a guess at it? Email Me and submit your answer.
Come on! Be Bold! I haven't been getting much response on these challenges. Don't be shy!
This page is intended for education. I promise I will not do anything to embarrass anyone.
Besides, when I get a lot of responses, then I know that people are interested. That encourages
me to keep this page updated with new challenge questions. So take the plunge!
The "What Is It?" Challenge for September, 2012:
This month's challenge is a fossil. As you know, a fossil is something
that has been dead for so long that it doesn't stink anymore.
Okay, so that's not the official definition.
Here's a better definition: "A remnant or trace of an organism of a past geologic age, such as a
skeleton or leaf imprint, embedded
and preserved in the earth's crust" (www.thefreedictionary.com/fossil). This month's What Is It
challenge is a fossil that has captured
my imagination since I was a child. So now I present it to you.
What is it?
Where did it live?
Congratulations go out to Alan Brenner and Mark Vining, who submitted correct
answers for the September challenge. Honorable Mention goes to Wanda Reynolds and Charles Smith for
submitting close guesses.
This month's challenge is a Glyptodon (also called Glyptodont). Glyptodon got its name from the Greek word
for "grooved or carved tooth". It was a large, armored mammal of the family Glyptodontidae, a relative of
armadillos that lived during the Pleistocene epoch. It was roughly the same size and weight as a Volkswagen
Beetle, though flatter in shape. Glyptodon is believed to have been an herbivore, grazing on grasses and other
plants found near rivers and small bodies of water.
Glyptodon measured over 3.3 m (10.8 ft) in length and weighted up to 2 tons. It was covered by a
protective shell composed of more than 1,000 2.5 cm-thick bony plates, called osteoderms or scutes. Each
species of glyptodont had its own unique osteoderm pattern and shell type. With this protection they
were armored like turtles. Unlike most turtles, glyptodonts could not withdraw their heads, but instead
had a bony cap on the top of their skull. Even the tail of Glyptodon had a ring of bones for protection.
Some species even had a ball of spikes at the end of their tails.
There is a glyptodont specimen in the Texas
Memorial Museum on the UT campus, if you would like to see one up close.
Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyptodon
See the archive of past
"What Is It?" challenges