Saturday, December 3

The real origins of bedrock mortars

I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the holes in the rocks around here were a little too symmetrically perfect to have been made by people in ancient times using ancient methods. Recently I got reinforcement of my suspicion from NASA, of all places.

Local bedrock mortars, supposedly made by people

Where I live there are many outcrops of granite with holes in them. Local lore maintains that the holes were made by early inhabitants, and were used for grinding foodstuffs such as acorns into meal. That may be true in part, the meal-grinding part, but as for the making of the holes by people—well, that’s probably wrong.

Asteroid Vesta with abundant bedrock mortars, ready for oak trees and human inhabitants.

Here’s my theory. As the earth began cooling after its birth, granite was still hot enough that when hit by meteorites it could be dented instead of shattered. As NASA’s picture of the asteroid Vesta shows, meteorites make bowl-shaped dents in rock. Many of the dents look just like the holes in the granite around here.

Time passes, rock cools and hardens, humans arrive on the scene. On discovering these meteor-made holes, people decide to settle down where they don’t have to buy expensive imported mortars in order to grind acorns. The evidence proves my theory—where there were many bedrock mortars, there were large populations of both people and oak trees, all thanks to ancient meteor strikes. 

I should’ve been a college professor.
Image Credits: Top picture Tom Hurley. Bottom picture: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA

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