Transcript: What the heck is this? The ROM knows | Apr 11, 2018

(music plays)

Against a green mathematical board, a hand places a small fossil. In white letters, the title of the show reads "What the heck is this?"

A man in his fifties sits at a desk. Behind him, there is a white board with a map. He is clean-shaven with short hair. He wears glasses and a pale blue shirt.

Looking at the screen, he says IN JULY OF 2006, I WAS SWIMMING IN A LAKE IN SASKATCHEWAN.
AND ALONG THE LAKEBED, I FELT THESE WEIRD ROCKS.
AND THEN I SUDDENLY REALIZED THAT THEY MIGHT BE FOSSILS,
SO I GRABBED A COUPLE OF FRAGMENTS. AND THEN, NOT KNOWING
WHAT TO DO WITH THEM, I PUT THEM IN A PLASTIC BAG, PUT
THEM IN A BOX, AND BASICALLY LEFT THEM THERE FOR MORE THAN
10 YEARS. I ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE,
BUT I NEVER GOT AROUND TO FINDING OUT.

Now, he stands in the street holding the fossil.

He says UNTIL TODAY:
I'M ATTENDINGTHE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM'S ROCK, GEM,
MINERAL, FOSSIL, AND METEORITE IDENTIFICATION CLINIC.

(violin music plays)
People look trough microscopes.

Subtitles read "THE ROM INVITED THE PUBLIC TO BRING THEIR TREASURES.
EXPERTS USE THEIR TOOLS TO IDENTIFY EACH OBJECT."

A caption reads "Kevin Seymour. Assistant Curator, ROM." Kevin is in his late fifties, with a goatee and combed hair. He wears glasses and a checked lilac shirt.

Kevin says PEOPLE FIND STUFF EVERYWHERE. SO AS CLOSE AS THEIR OWN
BACKYARD, WHEN THEY'RE GARDENING, THEY DIG SOMETHING UP.
BUT PEOPLE FROM TORONTO TRAVEL THE WORLD, AND WE GET THINGS
FROM EVERYWHERE - THINGS FROM CHINA, AND AFRICA, AND THE
CARIBBEAN.

Kevin kneels to open a drawer in a file room.

Kevin continues JUST LOTS OF DIFFERENT PLACES. SO WE NEVER
KNOW WHAT WE'RE GOING TO GET. MANY TIMES, PEOPLE THING THEY
HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL, AND IT'S PRETTY ORDINARY. BUT THE
OPPOSITE IS ALSO POSSIBLE, WHERE THEY SAY, "OH, I THINK I
FOUND A FOSSIL." AND WE'RE LIKE, "YOU HAVE WHAT?"
ONE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST OF ONTARIO'S FOSSIL SCORPIONS.
THE OTHER REALLY AMAZING FOSSIL THAT WALKED INTO THE DOOR
WAS THE BIGGEST, MOST COMPLETE, TRILOBITE FROM THE TORONTO
AREA. AND THE TWO KIDS WHO WALKED IN WITH IT ACTUALLY SAID,
"WE THINK WE HAVE A FOSSIL."

Fast clips show different types of fossils in the collection.

He laughs and continues UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR.
FOR MANY OF THE THINGS THAT THE KIDS FIND, AND WHEN A
FAMILY COMES IN TO HAVE IT IDENTIFIED, IT'S A COMMON,LOCAL
FOSSIL. WE'LL EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT KIND OF ANIMAL IT IS,
HOW OLD IT IS, HOW IT WOULD HAVE LIVED, AND THAT TORONTO
USED TO BE UNDER AN OCEAN. AND THEN WE'LL SAY, YOU KNOW,
IT'S A COMMON FOSSIL. BUT FOR THEM IT'S SPECIAL - THEY FOUND
IT, AND NOW THEY KNOW A LOT MORE ABOUT IT.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Back to our mystery item. What is it?"

Now, the man in his fifties sits in front of Cary Woodruff at the museum.

A caption reads "Cary Woodruff. PhD Student, ROM."

Cary is in his late twenties, with a goatee and brown hair. He wears a purple T-shirt with a colourful design.

The man in his fifties says SO YOU'RE SAYING THAT THE BEST GUESS HERE IS THAT IT'S
PROBABLY A COW OR COW-LIKE CREATURE, LIKE A BISON.

Cary says YEAH, COW OR BISON - WE CALL THEM BOVIDS. OXEN, SAME THING.

The slate changes to show the fossil piece from the beginning. It reads "It’s a cow bone."

The man in his fifties says EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT NECESSARILY EXCITING, IT'S STILL KIND
OF FASCINATING TO LEARN A LITTLE MORE ABOUT HOW THESE BONES DEVELOP
AND TURN INTO FOSSILS.

Cary says THIS IS REALLY COOL, BECAUSE, AGAIN, THE
PUBLIC GETS THISPERCEPTION THAT WE JUST FIND THESE BEAUTIFUL
BONES OUT THERE, AND WE DON'T. WE HAVE TO PIECE BACK THE STORY
OF WHO THIS WAS.

Back at the desk, the man in his fifties concludes SO IT WASN'T SOME SHOCKING NEW DISCOVERY,
BUT I'M STILL REALLY GLAD TO KNOW, FINALLY, WHAT IT IS.
AND IF YOU'VE FOUND SOMETHING IN A LAKE OR ON A HIKE, AND
YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS, THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM HOLDS
THESE CLINICS ONCE EVERY FEW MONTHS.

Watch: What the heck is this? The ROM knows