The Mystery of OOParts

A recent article published in The Voice Of Russia by Yulia Zamanskaya tells the tale of an anomalous piece of metal found embedded in a piece of coal. The metal was unusual, being an alloy of aluminum and magnesium, mostly aluminum. Intrigued, I looked further and stumbled into the fascinating world of OOParts. What are OOParts? OOParts are “Out of Place Artifacts”, objects found in geologic strata or other deposits which would make them anachronistic, such as highly refined aluminum contained within a lump of coal. Amusingly, the Antikythera Mechanism is one such OOPart.

This particular branch of inquiry, conspiracy, and pseudoscience had flown beneath my radar all this time. It is a treasure trove of excellent stories, fantastic artifacts, and far-ranging suppositions. When I started looking more into OOParts, I expected to find many sites and stories claiming that the OOParts were evidence of ancient astronauts or ancient technologically-advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis. Surprisingly, I found that religious sites, particularly those advocating creationism and a young earth, were using OOParts as evidence of the bible and of the christian creation stories (in my, admittedly, short research cycle, I did not find any non-christian religious sites discussing OOParts). I encourage you to take a look at this article on OOParts from Discovery New, this article on a bell supposedly found in coal from the Genesis Park.

I’m no archaeologist, unless you count excavating the strata of my desk. I don’t have what it takes to really assess these claims. Happily, others have done it for me. Two archeologists, Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews and James Doeser have compiled a fantastic resource for people who wish to learn more about good archeology, and, happily, Bad Archeology. One presumes that they were, perhaps, influenced by Dr. Plait of Bad Astronomy fame? The Bad Archeology site provides good resources (with good references!) in a clear and easy to read fashion. I strongly encourage you to take a journey through their site. I learned a great deal.

About that “UFO” part in the coal? The article offers some analysis from unnamed scientists:

No more than seven centimeters long, the object was found to be composed of 98 percent aluminum and 2 percent magnesium.

They go on to observe that nearly pure aluminum is rare in nature, but not impossible. Wikipedia lists a few examples of documented native aluminum found via natural processes. The scientists note that aluminum is very resistant to heat and corrosion, when in this form, so it wouldn’t be surprising for it to survive being encased within the coal seam.

The metal might also be from a meteorite:

 Another question that interests Russian scientists is whether the aluminum alloy is of Earthly origin. It is known from the study of meteorites that there exists extra-terrestrial aluminum-26 which subsequently breaks down to magnesium-26. The presence of 2 percent of magnesium in the alloy might well point to the alien origin of the aluminum detail. Nonetheless, further testing is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

Lets presume that the piece of metal was found within the coal and had been there since the coal was forming. This can happen via natural processes. While rare, elemental aluminum does occur on the earth (or possibly via a meteor). I think, however, that it is more likely that the artifact, should it actually be milled, cast, or otherwise created, is just that, a manufactured part. The coal came from a coal mine. It is not only possible but highly likely that machines break and parts fall off of mining equipment. It isn’t such a stretch to think that parts might fall into coal seams where heat and pressure would recompress coal dust around them.

This all presumes that there is an artifact at all, not just an interesting lump of naturally occurring metal. I do not, however, think it is a UFO part. The image does appear to have some natural grain, it could be normal crystallization which formed the tooth-like structures, but without more knowledge and access to the object, the best we have is the reports and supposition. I leave you with the closing thought from the article:

After the discovery came public, conspirators were quick to dub it ‘a UFO tooth-wheel’. Russian scientists, however, do not jump to conclusions and will run further tests to learn more about the strange artifact.

About Mike Weaver

Husband, father, skeptic, technologist, motorcyclist, hunter, outdoors-man, and evil genius. I am formally trained in computer science, physics, mathematics, and emergency medicine (paramedic, former).
This entry was posted in Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to The Mystery of OOParts

  1. Josh DeWald says:

    I will not allow myself to go down this rabbit hole of coolness. Then I’d really never have time to do anything else.

  2. Rick Smathers says:

    I keep reading OOP as Out Of Print. I was very confused when I saw the title and wondered why you were discussing “Out Of Print Arts”.

  3. It’s almost certainly a piece of machinery that broke off in the coal. Not that uncommon. The piece was not found in situ. It was mined, found in a coal bin.

    • Rob Struble says:

      Hmm, very good point.

    • Steven Borg says:

      Who the hell uses refined Aluminium for coal mining? Get an education and try again.

      • Bruce Alexander says:

        Mr. Weaver’s naiveté is all too common. Yes, there are hoaxes and always have been. For artifacts not found in situ we really can’t draw conclusions, except the one above stating that aluminum to mine coal is sketchy. They use jackhammers, chisels, and big machines made of steel.

        The trouble with LOOKING for discrepancies suffers from the same failings as not using the scientific method in the first place. Anyone can naysay and sound logical.

        I AM an archeologist. As such, and as an insider, I know that objects that do not fit current theory are either destroyed or hidden away in the deepest hole they can find. Objects before current methods developed are ignored.

        This object, the finds at Table Mountain, and others are suspect for the above reasons. However, as any good scientist will tell you, if the circumstantial evidence is pointing in a particular direction, you’re a fool to ignore it.

        People who don’t have there own successes to fall back on have a distressing habit of dissing on other scientists’ discoveries.

        • Alexandria Nick says:

          Slow your roll (from two years ago): that aluminum to mine coal is sketchy

          There’s plenty of aluminum things in and around coal mines. Extraction uses harder materials *on the actual tool-coal interface.* Aluminum, though, is literally everywhere else. A lot of the handing and processing equipment uses aluminum for its weight savings. Particularly things like conveyor systems, truck bodies, and railcars. That is to say, the general avenue where introducing an aluminum artifact into coal would be the easiest and most likely.

  4. Good Ash says:

    I am genuinely surprised that Mike Weaver is having difficulty with finding information on Out of Time phenomena outside of Christian websites. I have read about this in many places. Off the top of my head, Kenneth Hite has written about it.

    • Mike Weaver says:

      You’re right, there’s a ton of stuff out there. My searches bubbled up mostly the christian sites first and I found it interesting enough to comment on. These posts aren’t really full research papers, mostly due to time constraints. 🙂

      • Russell G. says:

        There’s a writer called the “Vedic Creationist” (whose name escapes me) who’s discussed these objects in several books he’s written. Unfortunately most of the supporting “evidence” seems to come from the early 19th century.

        • Gerard James says:

          micheal cremo, and why would that be “unfortunate”

          • Bruce Alexander says:

            It’s unfortunate because around the early 20th century archeologists adopted methods that would ensure reliability of what they found. Objects must be found in situ, for example. Anything before that time that did not fit these criteria were rejected.

            Cremo’s point, and the reason he’s the Vedic archeologist–Not creationist. Where the heck did you get that?!–is that the weight of circumstantial evidence that were not found using modern methods is significant. Again, maybe some, maybe many ooparts are explainable (The ‘modern human’ footprint that Mary Leakey found is one: The newly discovered Homo naledi had a modern leg and foot structure). There are also many, many that can’t be explained away. The scientific community needs to address this and quit protecting their precious theories.

    • Heyo says:

      “…I did not find any non-christian religious sites” Be careful with how quickly you read. ;P

  5. Kelvin Willshee says:

    An awful lot of these ooparts hint at human (or another civilised species) occupation on the planet millions of years ago. I can’t understand why the creationists, who believe in a young Earth are SO keen to claim these artifacts as proof of creation. Surely these artifacts do the exact opposite. If homo sapiens evolved in just the last few million years then surely other sentient creatures could have evolved and developed culture and civilisation many times in the past, only to become extinct. Perhaps a branch of the dinosaur family tree became bipedal, big brained and intelligent. Wouldn’t they, over the course of time, develop language, culture, art and technology? Millions of years later there wouldn’t be much evidence of their existence, apart from a few ooparts. Jump forward in time ten millions years. Will a new species of intelligent creatures be debating whether WE humans ever existed on this planet. Will they dig up a weird rectangular shaped plastic object with a symbol of an apple on it and wonder what the heck it was?

    • Nathaniel Hinckson says:

      Keep it simple people. If you don’t want to believe in God (hence your disbelief in creation) then you’ll never see the truth. No civilization came from outer space to make those things. Follow this closely now. Before the flood (yea, the same world wide flood scientists claim never happened) Man lived for hundreds of years and they were much smarter than we are today. Being direct descendants of the original humans (Adam and E e) and having 2000 years to do so, they would’ve achieved much more than we have in the 200 years our technology has mushroomed from horse and buggy to what it is today. They would not have had petroleum since that was formed as a result of the organic material buried by the flood. They therefore would’ve had alternative sources of energy. (Did you know there is evidence of atomic explosions in that time frame? I guess you’ll credit the “aliens” for that too. The flood destroyed all the technology they had at the time and the survivors were unable to duplicate it (much as those of us in the room would be unable to make an ipod, car or calculator if we were the only survivor today. In effect, the world was rebooted technologically. The ooparts we find are evidence of the technology from this advanced pre-deluge civilization. End of story. Now if you are reluctant to believe in God of course you have to reject this and grasp at the improbable; it’s a hoax, if it isn’t they were left here by aliens etc.

      • alysdexia says:

        sooth > truthe > truth.

        A worldwide rainfall for 40 days releases heat that would cook and kill everything, so the ark were no safer. There is no cultural record of a worldwide disruption. Floods are regular and local. One flood does not make fossils. One flood does not make strata. Petroleum and coal were a tool of cavemen and other primate species. One flood does not drift continents, and the work it takes to move them within years again should cook everything.

        The gods of Scripture believed the earth was flat (Dn 4:11; Mt 4:8; and heaven was a sea where the stars swam above a skybowl that held up the rain and clouds above a mound of earth above a lake above a sea that met the sea in heaven; they mistook north for up (sunward); were unaware of America, Australia, and Antarctica; and believed the new moon was caused by a cloud. The legends of men hundreds of years eld were taken from common Levantine names (in -ibla and -ugarit) mistaken for the same person and amplified into fables; there were no contemporary historical records of -àbŕàm, Moshè, Dàvid, Jèsu, etc. The names of women (Màŕjàm, Màŕjàh, Ŕaxel, Damaris), if you knew their meanings, betray that they were tools to further a plot or polemic and they likely did not exist; girls who took their names only exist after their stories were published to illiterate foreigners.

        There are 100s of mistakes in Scripture, historical, scientific, and moral. Its predictions are fake, failed, or easy. It is plagiarized off Mediterranean, Levantine, Zoroastrian gods with new names or roles.

        There was no resurrection earthquake or eclipse in Jerusalem; Quirinius was never governor; the census date was wrong; Jerusalem is in flatland and has no cliffs; Nazareth didn’t exist yet; there never were a million pounds of gold in one spot; the temple’s Western Wall is still up; the Roman-Jerusalem war came too late after a generation; the world has not ended 2400 or 1950 years ago; Emperor Nero (666 or 616) never took over; the fake profèt died on Golgotha outside Jerusalem; the fake ridder died by suffocation, not stoning, had no offspring, killd swine, was a quack, incriminated himself (See this joke: Ps 14:1 > Mt 5:22 > Mt 23:17); the coming of -islàm falsifies Dàni-el; we are not made of dirt but wax; plants need the sun but it wasn’t created yet; there are not two sexes but more like seven; female came yester male (and is reflected by the brood’s genital tubercle and Turner fænotýpe); our population never got fewer than 10,000 or so 70,000 years ago after the Toba supereruption; ghenetic drift is a steady clock that traces ages of haplogroups with continental migrations (Disrupt it and kill off nearly everyone.) and the comparative method finds that PIE is thousands of years older than Etemenanci (therefore no disruption).

        A few babies are born with tails.

        • Gordie Chase says:

          Please don’t excite the Christians with facts. They hardly realize that for 2000 years Ahura Mazda was the one true God and that’s were the Hebrews got their God. The Christian God was an alien and while we may not believe in aliens our military does, but then again that comes from first hand observation.

          • alysdexia says:

            You mean extraterrestrial?

            The coming down from heaven explicated in the book of Jn plagiarized the heavenly heir tales of Mediterranean-Levantine gods (like when saturnus slew coele or crono slew urano, so did Emmanuèl displace logho (equivalent to j·hveh) as the recipient of animal sacrifice or entreaty). Abrahamic doctrine was simply ancient comic books; none of it really happend, and none of those persons were real:

            The military doesn’t officially believe in ET visitations. What you get are lone reporters or hoaxers with their stories of encounters, abductions, and secret bases. Occasionally someone takes the report then builds on it as if it were so (like religion). Take Philip Schneider who said he used to work with Greys and took back mineral samples from them; when you listen to his speech you find the names and properties of those alien elements he took from the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual periodic table.

  6. john revill says:

    Its about the flood,sedimentry coal,rock and all those hydrologically sorted fossils in it indicate that the key to past geology cannot be based on uniformitarian models.If man made objects are in strata creationists see this as further proof of a recent world wide flood.The dating methods used to get those longer dates depend on the environment being similar to the present and going all the way back,but is that so?

    • Nathaniel HInckson says:

      Well said, Mr. Revill.

    • alysdexia says:

      There is no room for those living beings to take up the surface of the earth at the same time. This is why they are buried! They can’t even breathe the same.

    • Gordie Chase says:

      We have enough strange objects in the present that we can’t identify so why worry about whether there were other epochs in earth’s history. Basing anything on religion is pure fantasy whether you’re a creationist or not and if you’re skeptical about OOPARTS you should be skeptical about a world wide flood since science has yet to prove it ever occurred. It’s called you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  7. Don says:

    I fail to see how Ooparts can benefit the Creation theory, since ooparts often supposingly date back many millions or even HUNDREDS of million of years! And Creation was about 6000 years ago, right? These finds are therefore of no use at all for old school creationists. No, this is a whole new ball game. Ooparts definitely contradict human evolution and the rise of Homo Sapiens, as it is presently understood. That is to say: the rise of modern man some tens of thousands of years ago. So ooparts, if proven to be not complete fakes, undermine both: evolution and creation theory! The idea of extremely ancient man with modern capabilties is therefore a new idea – if we at least exclude the far-fetched idea of visiting aliens and work on the idea that all discovered artifacts were indeed man-made. That is what I like about it, that Man was around for an astonisingly long time.

    • Kelvin Willshee says:

      Not necessarily a man as we would think of him. Why not a reptilian hominid, or sauropod hominid. Mammalian hominids, i.e. US are modern and new to this world I think.

  8. Don says:

    Actually I just noticed that mister Wilshee’s comment above argued about the same: that these ooparts hold little value for creationists, because of their claimed outrageous antiquity. This cannot be stressed enough. At the same time the strongest objections against the validity of ooparts are made by modern science and the defenders of the evolution theory as it now stands. With good reason of course.

  9. Mark T Jones says:

    Some 30 years ago I was moving a pile of coal for my father’s forge. One piece was rather chunky, so I broke it into pieces. Yep, I discovered a stainless steel nut imbedded in one fragment. It was FULLY engulfed with even the threads filled. It was about 1cm across the flats with very fine threads in a pattern we were never able to match. The entire thing weirded Dad out. He kept the nut in a glass bottle, but where it went after he passed I do not know.

    • Kelvin Willshee says:

      It is completely logical to expect that in the eons of life on Earth other, earlier civilizations have developed. Perhaps not just one or two previous civilizations, but many. Maybe not all were human. Maybe we are the first human civilization this world has known. Perhaps previous civilizations were evolved from dinosaurs, reptiles, who knows? Where are they now? Did they destroy themselves as their technology became deadly? Is their coming and going a lesson we can learn from or are we doomed to follow them into oblivion?

      • Alexandria Nick says:

        My first question would be “was it actually coal?” Or was it coke or charcoal, both of which are pretty common in forges and (being a manufactured product) have avenues for the introduction of a modern inclusion. Especially by your calling it “chunky,” sounds to mean like it was a simple clump of coke.

        The second thing is a definite no. Unless, inexplicably, they were able to obtain a level of sophistication capable of destroying themselves without resorting to metallurgy, stone tools, or large scale engineering. There’s be larger and less ambiguous finds than “I heard someone once found a screw!”

        • Noah Dillon says:

          Lignite and anthracite could also be colloquially described as “chunky.” But this runs into a bigger problem with the anecdote: it’s an anecdote. It’s not a data point we can check very easily with a ton more information from what I’m assuming was at least several years ago. All sorts of things could have happened. For all we know, it was loose in the bag and was only mistakenly identified as embedded in coal. It could be misidentified. It could be make believe. It could be all sorts of things.

      • Noah Dillon says:

        That is not logical at all. And if they did destroy themselves with their own technology, then why is there no evidence of their deadly technology? We can’t learn anything from something for which there is no evidence of existence. It’s like asking what kind of lessons we can learn from unicorns and dragons. The answer is Zilch.

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