Home Made Rock Tumbler – Make Your Own

Filed under: regular postings — Gary May 23, 2009 @ 10:11 pm

I was doing some research on making your own rock tumbler and was surprised at how much info there was on the subject.  Here are some links to make your own.  If you try any of these out (or have made your own) please comment and let me know.

Home made rock tumbler

Home made rock tumbler

Making a Homemade Rock Tumbler

Making a homemade rock tumbler can be surprisingly easy. Homemade rock tumblers can be just as effective as ones that are commercially sold, and you’ll have the added excitement of making it all by yourself. Whether you’re making one for your own personal hobby or you want to get the kids involved for some educational fun, the steps below will get you started.

In order to build a sturdy rock tumbler that can withstand a few pounds of rocks, you’ll need a sturdy baseboard. Wood is fine for this part of the tumbler, although many people prefer metal because they believe it will be more stable during the tumbling process. As long as the piece is large and heavy enough to stay firmly on the table, you should be fine with either material.

On top of the baseboard, you’ll need to mount a few sets of wheels or pulleys that will hold your tumbler while it is turning. In order to mount these properly, you should first choose what you will use for the rock tumbler itself. The tumbler must be made from some sort of cylinder. Metal is best, but you can also use a plastic jar if you wish. Do not use glass or any other breakable material. Place the jar on its side on the baseboard, and mount the pulleys so that the jar rests between them comfortably a few inches above the baseboard.

Finally, you’ll need a small rotary motor and a drive belt. Mount the motor on the opposite end of the baseboard from the pulleys, and hook the belt from the motor around the jar. When you turn the motor on, the drive belt will turn and the jar will turn also, supported by the pulley wheels. Any adjustments you need to make regarding the speed of the tumbling will rely on the motor, so make sure to choose one with low RPM and the right speed for your projects.

And there you have it- a simple homemade rock tumbler that anyone can do! If you need further instructions, check your local library- there are many books available on how to make homemade rock tumblers and the various projects you can create using tumbled rocks.

Quote from –

TUFA – Rock Of The Day

Filed under: Mineral of the day — Gary @ 9:41 pm
Tufa towers at Mono Lake, California.

Tufa towers at Mono Lake, California.

Tufa is a soft, friable and porous calcite rock. It is a calcium carbonate (CaCO3) deposit that forms by chemical/biological precipitation from bodies of water with a high dissolved calcium content. Calcareous tufa is not to be confused with tuff, a hard volcanic rock that is also sometimes called tufa.

Tufa forming the Trona Pinnacles, California.

Tufa forming the Trona Pinnacles, California.

Tufa deposition occurs in seven known ways:

  1. Mechanical precipitation by wave action against the shore. This form of tufa can be useful for identifying the shoreline of extinct lakes (for example in the Lake Lahontan region).
  2. Precipitation from supersaturated hot spring water entering cooler lake water.
  3. Precipitation in lake bottom sediments which are fed by hot springs from below.
  4. Precipitation from calcium-bearing spring water flowing into an alkaline lake.
  5. Precipitation throughout a lake as the lake water evaporates, leaving the lake supersaturated in calcium.
  6. Through the agency of algae. Microbial influence is often vital to tufa precipitation and may be involved in the other methods listed.
  7. Precipitation from cold water springs (for example in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Hinton, Alberta).

Tufa is common in many parts of the world. There are some prominent towers of tufa at Mono Lake and Trona Pinnacles in California, USA, formed by the fourth method mentioned above whilst submerged and subsequently exposed by falling water levels. Tufa is also common in Armenia and Great Britain.

Is Ida our missing link?

Filed under: Great Finds-specimens — Gary May 21, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

Atlantic Productions

The Link is a feature-length documentary film made by the award-winning Atlantic Productions with exclusive access to Ida and the team of scientists who have examined her. The film shows how microtomography, CT scans and X-ray techniques were used to examine and recreate a 3D image of the creature, revealing that this early primate was a previously unknown species and one of our earliest ancestors.

Filmed in High Definition in locations in Europe, America and Africa, this documentary special combines one of the most extraordinary finds ever made, the latest scientific techniques and state of the art graphics to take us on an epic evolutionary journey.

19, 2009—
Meet “Ida,” the small “missing link” found in Germany that’s
created a big media splash and will likely continue to make waves among those
who study human origins.

In a new book, documentary, and promotional Web site, paleontologist Jorn Hurum, who led the
team that analyzed the 47-million-year-old fossil seen above, suggests Ida is a
critical missing-link species in primate evolution (interactive guide to human evolution from National
(Among the team members was University of Michigan paleontologist Philip
Gingerich, a member of the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National
Geographic Society, which owns National Geographic News.)

The fossil, he says, bridges the evolutionary split between higher primates
such as monkeys, apes, and humans and their more distant relatives such as

“This is the first link to all humans,” Hurum, of the Natural History Museum
in Oslo, Norway, said in a statement. Ida represents “the closest thing we can
get to a direct ancestor.”

Ida, properly known as Darwinius masillae, has a unique anatomy. The
lemur-like skeleton features primate-like characteristics, including grasping
hands, opposable thumbs, clawless digits with nails, and relatively short limbs.

“This specimen looks like a really early fossil monkey that belongs to the
group that includes us,” said Brian Richmond, a biological anthropologist at
George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the study, published this week in the journal PLoS

But there’s a big gap in the fossil record from this time period, Richmond
noted. Researchers are unsure when and where the primate group that includes
monkeys, apes, and humans split from the other group of primates that includes

“[Ida] is one of the important branching points on the evolutionary tree,”
Richmond said, “but it’s not the only branching point.”

At least one aspect of Ida is unquestionably unique: her incredible
preservation, unheard of in specimens from the Eocene era, when early primates
underwent a period of rapid evolution. (Explore a prehistoric time line.)

“From this time period there are very few fossils, and they tend to be an
isolated tooth here or maybe a tailbone there,” Richmond explained. “So you
can’t say a whole lot of what that [type of fossil] represents in terms of
evolutionary history or biology.”

In Ida’s case, scientists were able to examine fossil evidence of fur and
soft tissue and even picked through the remains of her last meal: fruits, seeds,
and leaves.

What’s more, the newly described “missing link” was found in Germany’s Messel
Pit. Ida’s European origins are intriguing, Richmond said, because they could
suggest—contrary to common assumptions—that the continent was an important area
for primate evolution.

Interesting article debunking the hype

IDA tree

IDA tree

Unbridled hoopla attended the unveiling of a 47-million-year-old fossil primate skeleton
at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on 19 May. Found
by private collectors in 1983 in Messel, Germany, the press immediately
hailed the specimen as a “missing link” and even the “eighth wonder of
the world.”

homepage evolved, incorporating an image of the new fossil – nicknamed
Ida – into the company’s logo. Now that the first description of the
fossil has been published, the task of sifting through the massive
public relations campaign to understand the true significance of the
new fossil can begin.

Ida forms the basis for a new genus and species of adapiform primate, Darwinius massillae. The adapids are a branch of the primate tree that leads to modern lemurs (see figure).

skeletal remains are remarkably complete, putting her in a small, elite
group of well-documented fossil primates from the Eocene (55 to 34
million years ago) that also includes her North American cousin, Notharctus.

for primate fossils this old, Ida’s stomach contents and a few aspects
of her soft anatomy are preserved. Like all adapiforms, Ida lacked a “toothcomb” at the front of her lower jaw – a structure that living lemurs use for grooming fur. Ida also lacked a “grooming claw
on her second toe, another difference from living lemurs. Otherwise,
Ida’s overall proportions and anatomy resemble that of a lemur, and the
same is true for other adapiform primates.

does Ida’s anatomy tell us about her place on the family tree of humans
and other primates? The fact that she retains primitive features that
commonly occurred among all early primates, such as simple incisors
rather than a full-fledged toothcomb, indicates that Ida belongs
somewhere closer to the base of the tree than living lemurs do.

this does not necessarily make Ida a close relative of anthropoids –
the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes – and humans. In
order to establish that connection, Ida would have to have
anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from
lemurs and other early primates. Here, alas, Ida fails miserably.

Ida is not a “missing link” – at least not between anthropoids and more
primitive primates. Further study may reveal her to be a missing link
between other species of Eocene adapiforms, but this hardly solidifies
her status as the “eighth wonder of the world”.

Ida is a remarkably complete specimen that promises to teach us a great
deal about the biology of some of the earliest and least human-like of
all known primates, the Eocene adapiforms. For this, we can all
celebrate her discovery as a real advance for science.

Chris Beard is curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History