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The crazy geologist (Author: Unknown)
"The story behind the letter below is that there is this nutball in
Newport, VT named Scott Williams who digs things out of his back yard
and sends the stuff he finds to the Smithsonian Institute, labeling them
with scientific names, insisting that they are actual archaeological finds.
This guy really exists and does this in his spare time.
Anyway...here's the actual response from the Smithsonian Institution.
Bear this in mind next time you think you are challenged in your duty
to respond to a difficult situation in writing."
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078
Dear Mr. Williams:
Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled
"93211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post...Hominid skull."
We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and
regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents
conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two
million years ago.
Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie
doll, of the variety that one of our staff, who has small children, believes
to be "Malibu Barbie."
It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the
analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us
who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come
to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a
number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped
you off to its modern origin:
1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains
are typically fossilized bone.
2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9
cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest
3. The dentition pattern evident on the skull is more
consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the ravenous
man-eating Pliocene clams you speculate roamed the wetlands during that
This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses
you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence
seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much
detail, let us say that:
A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a
dog has chewed on.
B. Clams don't have teeth.
It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your
request to have the specimen carbon-dated. This is partially due to the
heavy load our lab must bear in its normal operation, and partly due to
carbon-dating's notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic
record. To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to
1956 AD, and carbon-dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results.
Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National
Science Foundation Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning
your specimen the scientific name Australopithecus spiff-arino. Speaking
peronally, I, for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your
proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species name you
selected was hyphenated, and didn't really sound like it might be Latin.
However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating
specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a Hominid fossil, it
is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body ofwork
you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our
Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of
the specimens you have previously submitted to the Institution, and the
entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your digs
at the site you have discovered in your Newport back yard.
We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's capital that you
proposed in your last letter, and several of us are pressing the
Director to pay for it. We are particularly interested in hearing you expand
on your theories surrounding the trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions
in a structural matrix that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex
femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive appearance of a
rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench.
Yours in Science,
Chief Curator- Antiquities