Fossil Fever: Preserved Hunt

While all fossils are exciting, rare and open new windows into the past, it’s particularly exciting when you stumble across original preserved remains of historical organisms. These are some of the least common types of fossils, and from them we can gather a ton of information!

There are specific conditions that allow for preservation of body tissues. One such condition is a dry climate that allows for the natural “mummification” of an organism. Dry, protected areas, such as an arid cave, allow organisms to naturally dehydrate after death, thus protecting them from the bacteria that would normal aid in their decomposition. This process, known as desiccation, can even preserve soft tissues such as skin and hair.

Another condition that leads to well preserved animal remains is freezing. Animals trapped in ice or frozen soil are protected from predators that would normally consume them. The freezing temperatures also slow the process of bacterial decay. Frozen specimens can also have intact skin, hair and even organs!

Tar is also a good natural preserver of animal and plant remains. After specimens were sucked into these sticky asphalt pits, the tar would do a great job of starving them of oxygen and protecting them from the elements, allowing the animal’s “hard parts” (bones and teeth) to remain intact. The La Brea tar pit in Los Angeles, for example, have uncovered the skeletal remains of mammoths, dire wolves, ground sloths, saber-toothed cat, and many more prehistoric animals – enough that they have their own museum! Skeletons preserved in tar are often an interesting brown color as the tar has permeated through the pores.

Amber is also a classically known preserver of fossil remains. Amber began its life as tree resin, and fossilized over time, sometimes bringing interesting relics of the past along with it. Because tree sap is only produced in small quantities, it was not able to trap large fauna as with ice or tar pits. However, the small insects and plants it did manage to get its sticky fingers on are sometimes amazingly preserved, and can be easily viewed through translucent yellow amber gems. On rarer occasions, amber has also managed to catch ancient salamanders, geckos, and even dinosaur and bird feathers!

Now it’s time for you to join the Hunt for some rare and elusive artifacts hiding in plain sight!There are 12 mergers in the Hunt cell; you have 5.5 days and 24 guesses to locate them all, between midnight EDT on 5/21 and noon EDT on 5/26.

How to identify and report mergers

    1. Select Hunt cell from Change Cell menu. Stay in the overview.
    2. Type /debug into chat. This will reveal a special box with information about the cell (located above the “Start Playing” box).
    3. Use ALT+click to select the origin point of the merger you have identified. It is a good idea to zoom in close on the merger before you select it to get the most accurate coordinates.
    4. Find the coordinates of the merger’s origin in the cell information box. These are next to the word “center.”
    5. In the chat pm thehunt bot your coordinates. For example: /pm thehunt 5123 4321 5678.
    6. thehunt bot will let you know if you got it right or wrong and tell you how many guesses you have left.
    7. To check how many mergers you have found and to check what guesses you have submitted, type “/pm thehunt !list”; the bot will give you a list of all the coordinates you have guessed, and whether or not there was a merger at each set of coordinates. A + means there was a merger there, a means there was not a merger there.
    8. If you accidentally submit the same coordinate a second time, it does not count as two guesses.

Do not reveal your coordinates to other players. Do not do anything against the spirit of the Hunt. Anyone caught cheating will be automatically disqualified from the event and will not receive any points.

Proximity to merger start point is determined by number of voxels (1 voxel = approx. 1/250th of a cube’s width). Mergers are only counted as found if guessed within a distance of 250 voxels. Pieces of dust floating in space don’t count as mergers, so please don’t report them! We also do not count fused mergers that could not be removed during the Hunt prep process.

Swag: The top scoring player will win a mug, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

Bonus info is available in your in-game notifications. Good luck, and happy hunting!

Image source: Floortje Walraven