Toads in Rocks and Other Bizarre Entombed Animals

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He wrote of this eyebrow-raising theory in a paper for the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and it was mostly ridiculed by the scientific community. The body of the anomalous frog apparently went on to become part of the museum collection of Count Carl Gustaf Tessin at Akerö Castle, after which it sort of vanished into the mists of time. A similar discovery was made in 1761 by Ambroise Pare, who was a physician to Henry III of France. The doctor would write of the incident:

Being at my seat near the village of Meudon, and overlooking a quarryman whom I had sent to break some very large and hard stones, in the middle of one we found a huge toad, full of life and without any visible aperture by which it could get there. The laborer told me it was not the first time he had met with a toad and the like creatures within huge blocks of stone.

There are numerous other reports of such oddities throughout the 1700s. In 1719 there was a report released by the French Academy of Sciences, which told of a thick tree that was chopped down, only to reveal within it “a live toad, middle-sized but lean and filling up the whole vacant space.” In 1770 there was also a live toad found tightly ensconced within the wall of a castle that was being demolished, and there were numerous other stories of this sort and even exhibitions of live frogs, toads, and others supposedly found within stones, boulders, trees, and walls.

This weird phenomenon continued on into the 1800s, an era where we can find many well-known cases. An 1803 report published in the Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, told of a live mouse that was found inside a rock, from which it leapt in quite a lively fashion to run off and disappear. Another fantastic report was put forward in 1818, when a mineralogist named E.D. Clarke purportedly oddly found three living salamanders encased within ancient stone, like prehistoric insects suspended in amber. It was claimed that not only were the salamanders alive, but that they were of a species that had been extinct for millions of years. It is unknown just what happened to these amazing specimens after that, furthering the mystery of it all. Just a few years later, in 1821, a report in Tilloch’s Philosophical Magazine described the fantastic discovery made by a stone mason named David Virture, who found a lizard disgorged from within a solid lump of limestone dredged up from deep underground. The report would describe the lizard as follows:

It was coiled up in a round cavity of its own form, being an exact impression of the animal. It was about an inch and a quarter long, of a brownish-yellow color, and had a round head, with bright sparkling projecting eyes. It was apparently dead, but after being about five minutes exposed to the air it showed signs of life. It soon ran about with much celerity. This stone is naturally a little damp; and about half an inch around the lizard was soft sand, the same color as the animal. The stone had no fissure, was quite hard, and one of the best to be got from the quarry.

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