We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

A Fossil From the Heavens

A meteorite with a fingerprint unlike any other.

By Bridget Alex
Dec 12, 2016 6:00 AMNov 12, 2019 6:50 AM
Meteorite Öst 65, found in limestone in Sweden, is extinct, meaning no other sizable samples exist. | Birger Schmitz/Mario Tassinari


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Even seasoned meteorite hunter Birger Schmitz got excited when he saw the 3-inch “mysterious object” in 2011.

Schmitz, a Lund University geologist, had spent two decades inspecting a Swedish quarry for space rocks. The mysterious object — called Österplana 065 (Öst 65) after the quarry site — was found in the same limestone as more typical meteorites, suggesting it hit Earth at the same time, roughly 470 million years ago. But Öst 65’s chemical fingerprint was different from any meteorite found on Earth.

This led Schmitz and colleagues to announce in June that Öst 65 may be the first known “extinct” meteorite, meaning others like it no longer float in space, having been totally obliterated by collisions.

Scientists have speculated about extinct meteorites, but “not until you can hold it in your hand can you say it’s for real,” Schmitz says. Finding one gives us a glimpse into what the solar system was like all those years ago.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.