The Orgueil Meteorite

orgueil meteorite

On May 14, 1864 a meteor shower fell in Southern France. One of the meteorites from this shower is shown above. Note that there is a plant poking out the top of it. This plant is not simply attached to the meteorite. It is embedded within the substance of the stone itself. The question is, how did this plant come to be housed inside a meteorite? Is it an extraterrestrial plant?

The short answer is that it's probably not. The plant belongs to a species indigenous to Southern France, so it seems unlikely that it fell on our planet from outer space. But the question still remains, how did it get inside the meteorite?

Part of the answer is that this particular meteorite is composed of a type of rock called 'Orgueil' that becomes extremely malleable, like clay, when wet. However, if you wet the meteor it will lose the glassy fusion crust that it acquired as it passed through the heat of the atmosphere. The meteorite shown above has what appears to be an intact fusion crust. Therefore, we return to the question of how the plant got inside the stone.

The remainder of the answer is that back in 1864 when this meteorite fell to the earth, someone did indeed go to great pains to wet it and insert the plant inside of it. But they then disguised their work by coating the meteorite with a special glue that gave it the appearance of having an intact fusion crust.

Having gone to all this careful work to create a hoax meteorite, they sealed their creation inside a glass jar and hid it away inside a museum where it was only found by scientists almost 100 years later. The scientists were astonished to find this plant-bearing meteorite, but after careful work and analysis they realized that it was a fake.

Who created this fake meteorite, and why they created it, is unknown. For more information, and a theory about why they might have done it, read my longer essay about this peculiar hoax.

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