Man keeps rock for years thinking it's gold - but it was actually a super rare meteorite

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Ricky Joseph

What would you do if you found a large gold nugget? Something far more impressive happened to Australian David Hole.

Hole was armed with a metal detector at Maryborough Regional Park, near Melbourne, when he found something unusual - a very heavy reddish rock resting on a yellow clay.

Certain that there would be a gold nugget inside the rock, he took it home.

Already at home, he tried every way to open his find, but all in vain. He made use of a stone saw, an angle grinder, a drill, and even dipped the stone in acid, but could not even open a crack.

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That's because what he was trying to open wasn't a gold nugget, but a rare meteorite - he only found that out years later.

Frustrated, but still intrigued, David took the stone to the Melbourne Museum for identification.

"He had this sculpted, wavy look," Melbourne Museum geologist Dermot Henry told The Sydney Morning Herald. Image: Melbourne Museum

Researchers recently published a scientific paper describing the large 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite, which weighs 17 kilograms. They named it Maryborough after the town where it was found.

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"Meteorites provide the cheapest form of space exploration. They transport us back in time, providing clues about the age, formation and chemistry of our Solar System (including Earth)," Henry explains.

"Some also provide a glimpse into the deep interior of our planet. In some meteorites, there is 'stardust' even older than our Solar System, which shows us how stars form and evolve to create elements in the periodic table."

"Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules, such as amino acids; the building blocks of life." Image: Birch et al., PRSV, 2019

Carbon dating suggests that the meteorite was on Earth between 100 and 1,000 years ago, and there were several meteor sightings between 1889 and 1951 that may correspond to its arrival on our planet.

Researchers argue that the Maryborough meteorite is much rarer than gold. It is one of only 17 meteorites ever recorded in the Australian state of Victoria, and is the second largest chondritic mass, after a huge 55-kilogram specimen identified in 2003.

The research was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.