Lab Snapshots

by Marek Ples



If These Fossils Could Talk

I have a great sentiment towards paleontology. It was the first field of science that I became interested in and which made me decide that I want to become a scientist. In the following years of education, I slightly shifted my scientific interests to biotechnology, genetics, and biomedical engineering, but paleontology will always remain an interesting hobby for me.

Below, I present a few fossils from my collection.


A) Bivalvia fossil in limestone;

B) Nautilus;

C) Ammonit Ammonoidea;

D) Silicified stems of Crinoidea (Carboniferous, thanks G.G.);

E) Rhizocorallium - example of trace fossil or ichnofossil (probably Triassic);

Fun fact

It's funny and quite nice for me that the almost complete skull of one of our distant ancestors was named Mrs. (or Mr.) Ples. Many Australopithecus fossils have been found near Sterkfontein, about 40 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg (RSA), in a region of Gauteng now designated as the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Mrs. Ples was discovered by Robert Broom and John T. Robinson on April 18, 1947. Because of Broom's use of dynamite and pickaxe while excavating, Mrs. Ples's skull was blown into pieces and some fragments are missing. Nonetheless, Mrs. Ples is one of the most perfect preserved pre-human skulls ever found.

In fact, the coincidence of Mrs. Ples' name with mine is accidental and they have different origins. The nickname "Mrs. Ples" was coined by Broom's young co-workers. It derives from the scientific name Plesianthropus transvaalensis (near-man from the Transvaal), that Broom initially gave the skull, later synonymized into the species Australopithecus africanus.

If you're interested, you can learn more about it here.

That's not all

For more information about these and other experiments or constructions, please visit You can also contact me by email (

Further readings: