This Looks Like A Plant Fossil

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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 12:59 AM 

Dear Curiosity, would you pleeeease use the MAHLI on this?

Any ideas on what plants of Earthly origin this pattern might resemble?

Topic must stick to "plant fossil"..


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Reply: 1

PostPosted: March 13, 2013 6:59 AM 

I think it looks like that well-known Mars' fossil /paredolia Imaginatus/.

We've seen it before.


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PostPosted: March 13, 2013 9:37 PM 

Here is an example of a real earth plant fossil.



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PostPosted: March 14, 2013 5:02 AM 

Andy do you really think straight parallel lines are a product of paredolia only? Paredolia or not those straight lines are on that rock and are no product of imagination... Smile

By the way paredolia and pattern/shape recognition - wonderful special properties of our visual senses which makes us superior in searching for stuff to any computer algorithm yet - in the first place is what fossil hunters on Earth makes them find their stuff and what saved a huge number of human lives out in the wild past and even present...consider this! Wink

Dana Johnson

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PostPosted: March 14, 2013 7:01 AM 

We seem to be discussing the one pattern which I would have been least likely to suppose was a fossil record, yet there is an example from Earth showing a similar pattern as a fossil.

Great discussion.
Are there any other suggestive shapes such as sea shell shapes which are presumed by some to be not sea shell shapes, and therefore by logic not fossils, versus the logic of taking an interest in the actual shapes as a pointer for further investigation?

Will we find as I suggested in another topic today the probability of finding massive numbers of matching fossil shapes in the various water/ice/brine rich regions of Mars, along with the 'concretions' or spheroidal and discoid shapes in the sand, gravels, soils, and even rock formation?

If we can find the fairly precise matching shapes as Earth life, where is the illusory content?

Is the illusion in the retention of the presumption that all evidence must be denied simply spoken by a select few?

Is global arming a social process, or, is the denial of global warming a social process? Is this discussion a similar argument?

Can we agree that chemistry testing will not preclude a shape from identification as a fossil?

Where will we find the truth, in the content, or, in the denial of content?

Can denial of a blanket nature be a source of science?

Not to be insulting, but the statistics relied upon by persons does not yet exist on Earth. That source of wisdom exists in the minds of the imaginative 'denial' social order. And that order does exist as a state of denial.

We should catalog the findings in a string list on this blog, evidencing the locations, pixel and image number, and give history it's proper place in science.

The only denial should be denial of personality prior to lengthy testing and study over time.

The decision by science in the current March 2013 presentation is that the area and items are carrying the content of life's basic ingredients thus far.

Our viewing shows suggestive shapes in large numbers. That is our science content. There is no denial in that content as yet. Denial has no place in the study.

Do I believe this rock is a fossil object? No. I prefer to wonder if it could be, and I think it likely is not a fossil.

Many items suggest it possibly could be a fossil record in shape, or it might be associated with other fossil shapes.

Playing the 90% plus statistical guessing game as a hammer of denial absolutism is wrong. The early verdict assumes too much in both directions of thought.

Occam's 'razor' is not science, it is presumption only.

Thanks for the example from the record.


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PostPosted: March 14, 2013 11:12 AM 

Thanks for that post. It should be required reading for all who post here.


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PostPosted: March 14, 2013 2:08 PM 

MPJ: "...straight parallel lines are a product of paredolia only?"

No, not at all. I see them. You see them.

Here I strongly suspect they're indicative of layering of materials in a depositional environment.

Dana: "If we can find the fairly precise matching shapes as Earth life, where is the illusory content?"

You want a picture of a tree trunk that looks like a human face? Matching shapes is not good enough. Extrapolating similarity of form to underwrite evidence of the incredible is unbelievably bad science. Yet it occurs in almost every other thread here.

You talk of denial, rather as if some JPL-cabal conspiracy is working daily to refute your opinions.

Why on Earth would that be?

And finally: Occam's Razor is a time-proved heuristic technique that has been influential throughout much modern science. Why? Because it works. Einstein and Planck built (testable!) careers on it.

Finally: I want life on Mars. Preferably around today, but I'd be happy enough with evidence from earlier. Is this it?

I very strongly doubt it.



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PostPosted: March 14, 2013 3:47 PM 

Andy: "Matching shapes is not good enough."

"Extrapolating similarity of form to underwrite evidence of the incredible is unbelievably bad science."
Of course. But nobody here is looking at a suggestive rock and claim "see? Fossils that NASA is hiding!"

There are rocks that are, at the very least, indicative of interesting geological phenomena. From almost day 1 MSL has encounter incredible shapes, some that have stunning similarities to earth bio-signatures. My stress, I suspect shared by many, is not to be able to pick the thing up and analyze it!

In the meantime, I don't see why not keep reporting interesting stuff, especially since so many bloggers here are experts.


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PostPosted: March 14, 2013 4:04 PM 

Andy, I actually suspect the same regarding the specific object of this topic but this is due to some kind of preconception/conditioning trough training. I would claim that most geologic trained viewers would recognize this as some kind of layered rock as you explained without paying anymore attention to it - lets call that geologic paredolia. Now comes a free (from training/preconception) viewer into the game and sees the difference to surrounding layered rocks, asks questions and sees some other similarities than geologists quick viewing...
Now what? Wink

I think too specialized viewers tends to miss the interesting anomalies which could turn out to be the most significant findings on another planet in history - another user here wrote "blinded by the science" in another topic.

Of course "free viewing" will generate a lot of noise (just look at the busy snapshoting on gigapan in my uploaded panoramas) but maybe among that noise is the one/few signals which matters the most. So I for one appreciate every snapshot of what people think could be interesting (like the feature of this topic: ) and am surprised what turns up which I for example readily overlooked.

Mars exploration should be a multidisciplinary open minded endeavor without preconceptions and stand off denial - especially after the latest findings in Gale crater about habitability.

On the UT blog someone even suggested the visual analysis of MSL imagery should be turned into some kind of crowd-sourcing project like galaxy zoo - really good idea I think!

Dana, I concur with your re4 - very well written, maybe a bit too offensive though. Smile


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PostPosted: March 14, 2013 11:36 PM 

This is a good reason why Curiosity needs to use the MAHLI on this thing.

The left arrow points to what may be a well preserved segment pattern. The arrow points to what seems to look like frayed ends.


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PostPosted: March 15, 2013 12:14 AM 

All comments are appreciated. I'm just hoping someone will look for patterns like this in these hundreds of photos as I just don't have the time. And at the rate these pictures come in, It would be challenging for one person to scan them all and sensor before posting. We are the spotters on this mission.

Here is a photo of another similar fossil. The photographer is guessing these are horsetails. When alive, these look kind of like bamboo stalks and I've seen alot of these grow in water.


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PostPosted: March 15, 2013 1:10 AM 

Excuse the spelling. I meant "censor."


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PostPosted: March 15, 2013 9:58 AM 

I just stumbled across something which might fit to the theme of this topic as well. Is anything like hollow petrified wood examples known?

Notice the hollow body with a circular profile (tube like) middle left:

Actually I dont think its an optical illusion but a real 3d-feature... Shocked


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PostPosted: March 15, 2013 10:14 AM 

MPJ 12:
Looks like a shaded rock face to me.

This looks like bedding planes, without knowing the scale, it could be laminated bedding (

Now if you were looking for a leaf fossil, you would look for it on the surface of such bedding planes, as leaves will tend to lie flat on a flat surface.


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PostPosted: March 15, 2013 10:35 AM 

Thanks newboy, I still doubt it is a shaded rock face though because I somehow cant get the geometry (shadow/viewing angle) right but who knows. Its really a pity we haven't got rapid real 3d capabilities with the mastcam.

Regarding Chris' observation: the scale is rather small - maybe 20 cm left to right end. You can see this rock next to the rover wheel in the panorama linked in re8. Would such a small rock show distinct bedding planes? That would be real small scale layering!?

Dana Johnson

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PostPosted: March 15, 2013 9:06 PM 


I accept the challenge that I overstate the tension in the public/NASA drama in this new mission. There is a true and very substantial 'fall off' or better stated as a 'failure of this government in keeping the new science a public accessible relatively full content record keeping process. The prior missions offered to give us a 'full' viewing of the records in the rovers. This MSL mission has changed the commitment by offering the public a filtered and partial set of select results.
The change is dangerous and real.

I'll be happy to make it an ongoing topic if it is better.
It is a problem throughout society, both this country and all others.
If we commit ourselves to science, it will not happen when we read filtered documentation. It will happen only in an environment of full 'OPEN ACCESS'.


We seem to be diluting the discussion of the one image as a topic. It is very interesting to us for it's rock or fossil potential in the record. Many other sections also showed portions of this set of layering across a local small area. As most of Mars has a 'layering' domination of the geology, we are degrading the concept by inferring all refined patterns are geological, then not selecting a laser test for the various examples which could be fossil or castings. As I have seen some similar rock layers on Earth, I can accept the probability that it can be either inorganic or possibly formerly organic or certainly active and unusual, at the least.
No laser test, and no allowance of a public viewing of such a 'cheap' test? Why or why not? Does Paredolia include persistent demands of denial as a economic argument for a lack of science and testing? Yes is the answer. Science uses paredolia as a sling for a lazy mind. We all have the problems, but the pro's give a 'special case' or 'social caste' to the denial of public scrutiny as a leveling and an openess solution. The final economics is of a few gaining at the expense of full group inclusion in the findings. It is pleasing to those on the inside track, and that does exist.
This mission and others are now cordoned off and restricted in access, but they have an aspect of public openess in appearance. That does now exist.

We are demanding full public access over a period of delay if it is fair, and that is now real as well.

Science is favorable to the public only when the public states they have decided that fact.

I have here an additional image to present. It may dilute the topic or complex it somewhat, but as we are asking if simple shapes have value as evidence, in finding objects which could be tested for the chemisry and patterns of life, we have many simple examples in a few weeks images from this small part of Mars at Gale crater.

Sol 198, a section of the side of a 'mudstone' or whatever the chemistry, seen as a repeat of a partial disk or cylinder shape, very low in tonal variation and with no color differentiation.
The pattern is similar to the several horizontal arrayed spiked arcs around stem shapes, matches the tiny gravels I showed in this area, and is some type of mineral or chemistry, or, even a fossil record of a simple object aspect. Is it a part of a large concretion or a portion of a pyrite dollar? I can't tell you, we have to decide these discriminations as a group.
The laser sets unused. Why? So many items to check or study. How many uses will the laser handle over two or three years use? Perhaps it is aggressive to demand many uses in a small area. Perhaps we are being denied good geological evidencing we seek.
Are we likely to find a mountain slope record better than this area? We are near a 'streambed', yet the denial persistence seems a standard. If I find these examples on Earth I either photo them, mark the location, and check the history record, or, I carry the objects to a microscope or collection for analysis.



The faint image circle has a matching outer partial added concentric portion. Not special, but unusual.
A great alteration effort to show it in the inset below the real view at the white box.

How can this not interest fossil hunters or geologists?

MAHLI imaging might be accessed by the public, but the laser tests are 'off limits'. Do the mission organizers believe a couple SAM tests will show content from nearby rocks and formations?

How could a seeking of microbial life billions of years past be satisfied by a few checks of known to be former 'basalt', yet a conclusion of denial be presented by those who are also being denied the laser and SAM instrument results? We cannot accept a blanket while using a personal microscope in seeking microbes, why would we accept one for a space rover on another planet as a substitute for the actual science? Science is direct, and while 'Occam's razor is an aspect of science testing, it also is used by some as a reason that these images cannot be fossils in this blogging. Misuse and misdirection. A lack of results in the long term mission documentation is underway currently. That is not the process of 'Occam's razor'. It is the process of handing the public a simple razor by the wrong end.

The investment the public makes should be respected. The results should be public record. The records should be 'Open Access'.
It is similar to the Open Records (A)ct of public meetings.

The small objects I have seen in this area do not look like volcanic tube items I have seen. I have seen only a limited number of types, however. If concretions, then these might associate with fossil objects.

MAHLI, SAM, and the laser might give answers.


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PostPosted: March 16, 2013 8:24 AM 

Dana, could you also zoom into a rock on the very right of the photo directly across from the rock with the partial added concentric portion?

There are two spirally looking imbedded lumps.


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PostPosted: March 16, 2013 8:38 AM 


You must be working for the space program. It's all part of the plan. Give teasers but don't actually say or indicate fossils. This is like the plot building before commercial break of prime time TV.

Hopefully the search for life doesn't turn into a soap opera. I don't watch soap operas.


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PostPosted: March 16, 2013 10:22 AM 

People look for life because nobody gives a **** about geology, layered materials, or ancient water.

Dana Johnson

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Reply: 19

PostPosted: March 16, 2013 7:59 PM 

Driving in the deserts and open roadcuts, stopping for close viewing of geology exposures, and fossil, mineral, and meteorite hunting, are considered to be the domain of 'strange' persons in polite terms. It tortures most persons minds to think much. Many cannot tell us their elected government representatives as well. We are persistent to seek reality in these photos and tests. Fossils are closer to our hearts than geology for sure. To write Mars history is a long investigation. We will write it alongside our revised Earth history in future centuries.

Andy is well trained, and I cannot argue against better judgement. It is an uphill struggle to find even minerals on Mars.

These objects are something. What they are is why we are imaging and testing.

Six months or a years delay in release of test results would still give us a understanding of future objects and similar landscape features in future missions.

Chris, ref., #16, I will look, and the 'snake/worm' shape directly above the rock with a 'disk' is really odd, as it has apparent carbon bonding flexure of the shape in multiple turns. Another angle of view might change the appearance?

It is fairly rare on Earth to find suggestive 'fossil' shapes. Why are they prevalent on Mars?

Are the basic minerals given to 'fossil' shaping with low liquid water levels? I never can make sense of the concept, but what could be causing several rovers to find so many curious objects in a short path of about twenty-five miles total roving?


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PostPosted: March 16, 2013 8:15 PM 

That's ridiculous. And uncalled for.

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