It’s amazing what people will believe if they want to...
In China, near the Jinfeng village of Meilan, crowds of villagers are gathering to get a glimpse of what they think is a stone flower, miraculously grown since heavy rains drenched the area. Apparently, an old man of the village was out collecting firewood in the depths of the forest, not too long after the downpour, and reported the strange sight to local forestry rangers.
The stone flower has been attracting so many visitors that a path has now been built through the woods so people can see the monstrous growth for themselves.
Unfortunately though, there’s always someone who wants to rain on the parade – experts have announced that the ‘new’ frozen flower is none other than a fossil, a very old one at that. Geologist Dr Meng Youyan has assured the villagers that the flower is actually 300 million year-old chert nodules, after studying pictures of it. It’s thought that the heavy rains caused a landslide, revealing the hidden flower-like fossil for the first time.
Still, the villagers aren’t so stupid and know a good deal when they see one; the head of the Meilan village Ran Zaizhong declared, “It’s a gift from nature”, and plans to help protect the stone and develop a mini tourist industry around the precious flower.