Mystery Photo
January 2003

What in the world is it?

Don’t peek at the answer until you’ve given this a good try! Then, scroll down a bit and the truth will be revealed to you.

(Image Credit: Dr. Tim Demko, Colorado State University)

A beaded necklace pounded into wood? A sap ring? No, though the wood part is close. What you see here is petrified wood containing the main burrow and urn-shaped cells of ancient bees — possibly similar to the so-called "sweat bees" living today.

During the past year, about 40 fossilized bee nests have been found within giant petrified logs at the Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona. The discovery was made by Dr. Tim Demko, a paleobiologist in the Department of Earth Resources at Colorado State University. He and his associates have found many fossil nests they believe to have been constructed by ancient bees, which, according to the fossil record, date to about 80 million years.