One of the largest meteorites ever recorded in Michigan never caught the attention of experts until more than 80 years after its discovery.
Living a modest life as a 10-kilogram (22-pound) doorstop on a local farm, this space rock lingered for several decades before being recognized by the scientific community.
“I could tell right away that this was something special,” Mona Serbescu, a geologist at Central Michigan University (CMU), explained in 2018 after examining the object.
“It is the most valuable specimen I have ever kept, both financially and scientifically.”
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David Mazurek, a man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, asked Serbescu if she could examine a rock he had had for 30 years — in case it was a meteorite.
For Serbescu, this has been a regular request throughout her career, but usually with no dramatic results.
She explained in a statement at the time: “For 18 years, the answer has been categorically ‘no’… not meteorites.”
But on this occasion the answer was different.
Not only was it a space rock, it was also amazing.
The object, nicknamed the Edmur meteorite, is a large iron-nickel meteorite containing a large amount of nickel, about 12 percent.
How the meteorite came into Mazurek’s possession is a story in itself.
According to Serbesko, when Mazurek bought a farm in Edmore, Michigan, in 1988, the previous owner showed him around the property and saw a large, strange-looking rock used to open the shed door.
When Mazurek asked the departing owner about the rock, he was told that the doorstop was actually a meteorite.
The man went on to say that in the 1930s, he and his father saw the meteorite fall at night on their property, “and it made a big noise when it hit.”
The next morning, the duo found the crater left by the object, and excavated the meteorite from the newly formed trench. They said it was still warm.
The craziest thing? The man told Mazurek that since the meteorite was part of the property, it now belonged to him.
So Mazurek kept the space rock for 30 years, continuing to use it as a doorstop, except on occasions when his children would take the rock to school for display and demonstration.
Eventually, he noticed that people were making money from finding small pieces of meteorites and selling them, so he thought about valuing his giant rock.
We can imagine that Mazurek was ecstatic when he finally did, as meteorites – due to their rarity and scientific value – can often fetch high prices.
“What typically happens with these meteorites at this point is that the meteorites can be sold and displayed in a museum or sold to collectors and sellers looking to make a profit,” Serbescu said.
Ultimately, Mazurek sold his meteorite to Michigan State University’s Abrams Planetarium, and pledged 10 percent of the windfall to Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, where Serbescu determined the rock’s true identity.
Its price? $75,000.
Not too bad for an old door stop.
An earlier version of this article was published in October 2018.
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