When most of us think of seeing a fossil, we imagine being in a museum. But you may step into an office building tomorrow and walk to the elevator on tiled dark remains of squid from the Silurian age. A plate at the mall might really be carved sediment from an ancient coral reef.
Fossils of all kinds have a wide diaspora. They are one of the countless commodities set roving by global trade networks. Like wines or people, most recognizable fossils have a unique provenance, a specific place of origin. But with no label, a rock's identity often erased as soon as it leaves the ground. On the dry eastern slope of the Atlas Mountains in North Africa, the record of an ancient living ocean can be still read in the desert.