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Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 11:46:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Bee Leave
Subject: BLAGUES-L: Australobarbicus plasticus

Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 18:54:50 -0500
From: Alana Boltwood

I have no idea if the Smithsonian minds having this passed around.  But
after working in government, I can attest to its realism.

Alana Boltwood


 The story behind the letter below is that there is this
 nutball in Newport, RI named Scott Williams who digs things
 out of his backyard and sends the stuff he finds to the
 Smithsonian Institute, labeling them with scientific names,
 insisting that they are actual archaeological finds.

 This guy really exists and does this in his spare time!'s the actual response from the Smithsonian
 Institution. We should all bear this in mind next time we
 think we are challenged in our duty to respond to a difficult
 situation in writing.


 Smithsonian Institute
 207 Pennsylvania Avenue
 Washington, DC 20078

 Dear Mr. Williams:

 Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute,
 labeled "93211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post...
 Hominid skull." We have given this specimen a careful and
 detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we
 disagree with your theory that it represents conclusive proof
 of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million
 years ago. Rather, it appears that what you have found is the
 head of a Barbie doll, of the variety that one of our staff,
 who has small children, believes to be "Malibu Barbie." It is
 evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the
 analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that
 those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the
 field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings.
 However, we do feel that there are a number of physical
 attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off
 to its modern origin:

  1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains
  are typically fossilized bone.

  2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9
  cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the
  earliest identified proto-homonids.

  3. The dentition pattern evident on the skull is more
  consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with
  the ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams you speculate roamed
  the wetlands during that time.

 This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing
 hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this
 institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily
 against it. Without going into too much detail, let us say that:

 A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a
    dog has chewed on.

 B. Clams don't have teeth.

 It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny
 your request to have the specimen carbon-dated. This is
 partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in its
 normal operation, and partly due to carbon-dating's notorious
 inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record. To the best
 of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956
 AD, and carbon-dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results.

 Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the
 National Science Foundation Phylogeny Department with the
 concept of assigning your specimen the scientific name
 Australopithecus spiff-arino. Speaking personally, I, for one,
 fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your proposed
 taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species
 name you selected was hyphenated, and didn't really sound
 like it might be Latin.

 However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this
 fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly
 not a Hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless, yet another
 riveting example of the great body of work you seem to
 accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our
 Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for
 the display of the specimens you have previously submitted
 and our staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon
 next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your
 Newport back yard.

 We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's capital that
 you proposed in your last letter, and several of us are
 pressing the Director to pay for it. We are particularly
 interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding
 the trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous metal in a
 structural matrix that makes the excellent juvenile
 Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered take on the
 deceptive appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman
 automotive crescent wrench.

 Yours in Science,
 Harvey Rowe
 Chief Curator-Antiquities

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