Small wonders

Microfossils are microscopic elements of ancient organisms, found embedded in ancient marine limestones and shales. To extract them involves dissolving away the surrounding rock and putting the residue through various separation processes. Through a microscope, they are beautiful but often enigmatic – rich material for academics!

We are tiny microfossils
Who are very, very small;
And some of us are so minute
You won’t see us at all

Unless you’ve got some solvents,
And some sieves (from coarse to fine),
Some sodium polytungstate,
And a lab, and lots of time.

It’s messy and it’s smelly,
But you’ll need all that to free us
From our Ordovician prison;
But we’re worth it when you see us.

We are conodonts and forams,
Ostracods and all the rest,
And we hope our great diversity
Will leave you well impressed.

You will wonder where we came from,
What we were in ancient seas;
Then you’ll write your learned theses,
And you’ll get your PhDs.

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