He introduced himself just as Mr Smith. Only after the first couple of questions Raj Patel understood that he was an agent of the Royal Bureau of Paranormal Activities.
“So, Dr Patel, I was told that you discovered a…” he read a paper that he has been holding in his hand for minutes “human artefact.”
“Sure. First of all, technically I’m not a doctor yet. I’m studying right now to…”
Smith waved the paper to sign he was not interested. He wanted to go to the core of it.
Raj put his hands forward and sat down on his lab chair.
“OK, yes it’s correct, what we found is a human artefact.”
Mr Smith continued to read: “A human artefact in an Early Permian Mesosaurus specimen of the Monteblanco pit”.
“And how likely is that?”
Raj opened his eyes in surprise.
“Not likely at all.”
“Zero?” he asked shaping his thumb and index in a O.
“Absolutely, no chance this can happen.”
“Then your measurements must be wrong.”
“No, that’s unlikely as well. We know that all the specimens from those strata are 250 million years old.”
“Then, we can talk about contamination. A lot of prankers in this country, aren’t they?”
Mr Smith recalled the circles on the fields in the 90s. An explosion of idiots that just wanted to appear in the Sunday edition of the Daily Mail first page.
“Not even that: you see, we opened the specimen ourselves. We split the stone in two with a hammer that…”
“And it was already there when you opened it. Who touched it after you opened it?”
“No one, I found it and then took it to the faculty. Only then I realised what was inside the Mesosaurus’ guts.”
“Guts searching”. Mr Smith googled it. Hundreds of videos of boffins opening fish in search of what these critters have had for dinner the evening before. Other fishes mostly but then the oddities: plastic bags, tampons, a 40W bulb, an AA battery and so on. You can find anything in the guts of those bloody fish. Disgusting.
“And what was inside this dinosaur?”
“Mesosaurus is not a dinosaur, is a marine reptilian genus closely related to…”
“Terrific. Enough of this gibberish. Look you are a nice chap, I can’t waste my and your time around these reptilian terms. I am not the Mulder and Scully-type you think I am. Although every single person in this country think I am like them, “I do not want to believe”. I just want to debunk what I’m presented.”
He sighed very deeply. He just hoped it was not going to be like when that old lady in Plymouth called the police swearing she saw a seaman on Sunday morning “eating his own face”.
“Now, how can we… er… how can you explain such an occurrence in your strada.”
“It’s inexplicable, basically. Unless…”
“Unless we accept the impossible, that men roamed the Earth in the Early Permian.”
“Yeah quite true. Impossible.”
It got him thinking for a minute or so then the palaeontologist said something that surprised him.
“Look I don’t want to appear in the Daily Mail tomorrow. I have a reputation to defend here. This is my final year of my PhD. Please do not let me say anything stupid.”
“You are my first Dr Patel. You are my first case in which the witness of an abnormal event – I prefer abnormal to paranormal – does not want to appear in the tabloids. This gives me hope. Perhaps this time I got something real to bite.”
They then moved to the next office, that looked more like an Amazon storage, just smaller. Racks and racks full of boxes and numbers. Raj went to section C, third shelf, specimen Y5D8. It was a wooden drawer. He pulled it out until 3 feet or so of a white plastic sheet were displayed. He then folded it and the fossil was fully exposed. It looked like a miniature cross between a lizard and a crocodile. Its body was following an arc like it had suffered a lot just before death or some sort of rigor mortis.
“Here is the content of its guts.”
Raj pointed his finger to the dilated tummy of the animal. Smith could not decipher anything of that intricate mass of ribs, hips and god-knows-what was there. Raj understood it and explained.
“This is the rib cage that flattened due to the pressure of the sediments, these are the hips and this is the content. You can recognise various small fish bones, ammonites like this one and that one. Everything is normal, we find these all the time. But if you look closely enough you see that rounded shape with all those spikes around the edge.”
“Right, so this small and insignificant rounded object that could be any shellfish made you think you found a human artefact in this dinosaur’s guts?”
Raj repressed anger and moved quickly to a desk where he took a LED lamp. He placed it above the specimen and almost pushed Smith on a side.
When the UV lamp switched on at first all the skeleton was shining bluish and it was difficult to understand the single parts. Then Raj pointed the lamp close to that rounded object. Mr Smith began to see something that did not expect at all. His jaw dropped. He could not believe his eyes, the UV light was able to highlight something written in a very familiar human alphabet. In few milliseconds all his year after year of mocking these abnormal cases collapsed like a castle made of cards. He saw himself like in a british version of X-files, just a bit more Monty Pithon style. He thought to himself: “Just how can I tell the journalist of the Daily Mail that we found in an Early Permian Mesosaurus’ gut a 21st century bottle cap with the unmistakable word PEPSI written on it?”
*No copyright on this, I don’t believe in it, I’m against it on principle, but I’m sure there are loads of decent people out there that if they were going to share this they will be happy to mention the author and this page.