Word of the Week (229): ICHNITE (probability 10136), by David Sutton

An ICHNITE (or ICHNOLITE or ICHNOFOSSIL) is a type of trace fossil, in this case a fossilised footprint. The word comes from the Greek ikhnos, meaning footprint or track. Have you ever wondered why the ICHNEUMON species of mongoose is so called? It refers to the animal's alleged ability to locate the eggs of crocodiles, from the related Greek verb ikhneuin, to track. There are also ICHNEUMON wasps, but what they have to do with mongooses or footprints I have been unable to ascertain.

ICHNOLOGY is the study of trace fossils; oddly, ICHNOLOGIST* has not made it to the list.

Most other fossil names are too long to be of much use in Scrabble, but it is worth mentioning BACULITE, a rod-shaped fossil (cf. BACULUM, the bone that certain mammals have in the penis); CYSTOID, a kind of extinct echnoderm; TROCHITE, a wheel-like joint of the stem of a CRINITE, which is a fossilized CRINOID or sea-lily; ZOOLITE (or ZOOLITH), a general word for a fossilized animal, and COPROLITE (or COPROLITH), which is a piece of fossilized dung.

And by the time you read this, it may be possible to go looking for fossils in a BONEBED+, a word new in CSW15.


© WESPA | Committees | Join WESPA | Contact Us | Credits