The sixth largest meteorite recorded in Michigan has just been brought to the attention of experts over 80 years after its discovery.
After living a humble life as a 10 kilogram (22 pound) doorstop in a local farm, the space rock is now getting the attention it deserves.
“I could tell right away that this was something special,” said Mona Sirbescu, a geologist at Central Michigan University.
“It’s the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically.”
An anonymous man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, had asked Sirbescu if she could examine a rock he’d had for 30 years, in case it was a meteorite.
For Sirbescu throughout her career, this has been a regular request, with no exciting outcomes.
“For 18 years, the answer has been categorically ‘no’ – meteor wrongs [sic], not meteorites,” she said in a statement.
But this time, the answer was different. Not only was it indeed a space rock, but a spectacular one at that.
The find, nicknamed the Edmore meteorite, is a large iron-nickel meteorite with a high nickel percentage of 12 percent.
How the meteorite came into the anonymous owner’s possession is a great story in itself.
According to the statement, when the man bought a farm in Edmore, Michigan in 1988, he was shown around the property by the old owner, when he saw a large odd rock holding open a shed door.
When he asked about it, he was told in a matter of fact way by the owner that it was a meteorite.
“He went on to say that in the 1930s he and his father saw it come down at night on their property ‘and it made a heck of a noise when it hit’,” the university explained to the press.
“In the morning they found the crater and dug it out. It was still warm.”
The craziest bit? The old owner told the Grand Rapids man that, since the meteorite was a part of the property, it would now belong to him.
And so this new owner kept it for 30 years, moving with it when he left the farm – he used it as a doorstop, mostly; except for the occasions when his kids took the rock to school for show and tell.
Eventually, the man noticed that people were making money from finding and selling small pieces of meteorite, so he figured he should get his giant rock evaluated.
We can imagine he must be elated that he finally did so; depending on the types of rare elements discovered in the analysis currently being done by the University of California, the humble doorstop meteorite could be worth at least US$100,000.
“What typically happens with these at this point is that meteorites can either be sold and shown in a museum or sold to collectors and sellers looking to make a profit,” Sirbescu said.
There’s now a bit of a scuffle over who will buy the meteorite – both the Smithsonian and a mineral museum in Maine are considering purchasing the incredible find.
Not bad for an 80-year-old doorstop.