"Moon Rock" is Petrified Wood

This story was all of the news a couple of days ago. A piece of rock purportedly collected from the moon by Apollo 11 and given to a dutch museum of a United States envoy back in 1969 is actually a piece of petrified wood.

You can read more about this here, here, and here.

These articles were pointed out on the Vertebrate Paleontology list server and the following reply was posted by Triassic paleobotanist Sid Ash. As Sid is a friend and reader I hope he does not mind me reposting his comments here.

"As a paleobotanist who has studied petrified wood for many years I would identify the specimen as almost certainly a piece of Upper Triassic "Rainbow Wood" which occurs in great abundance in Petrified Forest National Park and adjoining areas in the southwestern United States. Most other petrified wood ranges from shades of brown to black and is not as distinctive as Rainbow Wood which is usually dark red in color. See references for more information on Rainbow Wood.

---Sidney Ash"

As there is an extremely good chance that this piece of wood is from the Chinle Formation and possibly Petrified Forest National Park, I admit I must take slight offence at the following comment from the article:

""It's a nondescript, pretty-much-worthless stone," Geologist Frank Beunk concluded in an article published by the museum."

And this is amusing as well:

"He said the rock, which the museum at one point insured for more than half a million dollars, was worth no more than euro50 ($70)."

That seems about right for that size of a piece; however, if it could be demonstrated that the rock was taken illegally from the Petrified Forest the fine is over $300.


Ash, S. R. 2005. Petrified Forest: A story in stone. Petrified Forest Museum Association, Petrified Forest, AZ. 48 p.

Ash, S. R. 2007 Petrified Forests. In: McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Sciences & Technology, 10th Edition. Vol.13, p. 230-234.

1 comment:

  1. what if there's an ancient petrified forest on the moon?


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