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History of Geology

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You ever dance with the Devil’s Fossils…

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?
(“Batman” 1989)

The night before December 6, belongs to the Krampus, a beast-like demon in the Alpine folklore – and strange marks can be found on some rocks in the Dolomites - resembling the imprints of an exceptional large cloven hoof.


Ancient stories tell of these secret places, where witches, sorcerers and lesser demons gathered in a wild dance – and at midnight the devil himself, disguised as a black goat, would appear. But at sunrise even the mightiest evil force had to return to hell – on the rocks only the imprints of the devil’s hooves remain as grim reminder.

The geologist explains the strange hoof-like figures as cross sections of large extinct bivalves of the genus Megalodus, but then, wasn’t the greatest trick of the devil convincing the world he didn’t exist…

David Bressan About the Author: Freelance geologist dealing with quaternary outcrops interested in the history and the development of geological concepts through time. Follow on Twitter @David_Bressan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.



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  1. 1. Arbeiter 8:58 pm 12/5/2013

    If Satan were anything, she would be a belief system.

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  2. 2. rock johny 4:52 pm 12/6/2013

    There’s an area on some land our family used to own that is across a creek and in thick woods. There is a natural amphitheater with a hill surrounding a flat area in a conical shape. I wondered if it might have been a gathering area for natives in the distant past. Every time i walked through this area, something strange would happen. These events happened in the 90′s. Once i heard a single drum sound off; another time i heard what sounded like a massive log crash through the brush (horizontally) as if it was thrown by someone quite stronger than any human. Then one of the last times, a friend and i walked through while deer hunting early on a morn and i had to take a wiz – i looked back over my shoulder smiling at my friend showing off my healthy stream arching up and onto a tree. When i got back home my wife woke up from a hard sleep and asked me where my deer was. She had heard me in the kitchen earlier but when she got up to check on me, as she came through the hallway she was lifted up and shaken like a ragdoll, then she came in and saw me peeing on the fridge, looking back smiling at her. Then i took a knife and washed it in my own pee in a bucket or something – she asked ‘me’ if i had gotten a deer and i curtly replied, “what do you think?!”. Then she went back to bed only to wake up later when the real me got home (with no deer).
    If there are locations the demons congregate or call home (besides old creaky houses), that must be one of them!

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