A mysterious-looking rock that was found by a gold prospector in Australia turned out to be something much more precious.
David Hole found it outside of Maryborough back in 2015, while hunting for gold — and it remained a mystery for the next three years.
Hole tried to use a rock saw, a drill and a sledgehammer, but nothing would even make a mark, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Finally, last year he brought the rock, which is 15.3 inches long, 5.5 inches deep and 5.5 inches wide, to the Museums Victoria.
According to researchers, it was evident pretty quickly that the rock was a meteorite – and a very rare one at that – that likely landed on Earth between 100 to 1,000 years ago.
The meteorite was likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The brown-colored rock contains iron, nickel and other materials, according to the researchers' published paper.
"It's really mind-boggling that we get the opportunity to hold it and study it today. How good is that?"
According to scientists at the museum, meteorites like the one found in Maryborough give us a unique glimpse into space, offering potential clues into the formation of the universe and our own planet.
"Some provide a glimpse at the deep interior of our planet," said Dermot Henry, head of sciences at Museums Victoria, in a statement. "In some meteorites, there is 'stardust' even older than our Solar System, which shows us how stars form and evolve to create elements of the periodic table. Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules such as amino acids; the building blocks of life."
"When you consider all the events this chunk of rock has experienced since its formation 4.6 billion years ago, it's really mind-boggling that we get the opportunity to hold it and study it today. How good is that?" said Bill Birch, Museums Victoria emeritus curator in Geosciences, who lead-authored the paper describing the meteorite.
This new meteorite, which will be on display at the Melbourne Museum next month, joins a collection of over 400 meteorite specimens held by Museums Victoria.