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A Rockhound’s Discovery - Is It An Alien Fossil or an Ancient Native American Carving?

Is This an Alien Fossil?

What do you think this is?

What do you think this is?

An Extinct Species or an Alien Fossil?

I found this odd egg shaped rock while walking in the Sonora desert. On the flat side, it's about two inches long by one and five-eighths inches across and about an inch thick. It looks very ordinary- until you turn it over! There, looking at you, is a perfect tiny face! Is this a fossil of a long extinct species of bird or animal, or is it a true alien fossil? Some say it's an ancient Native American figure rock. What do you think?

Below is the story of how I found this unusual rock with its strange embedded face.

Rockhound or Rock Collector - I Just Like Rocks

I hesitate to call myself a rockhound because I know so little about geology. I can’t say I’m a paleontologist, either, though I enjoy collecting fossils when I can find them. I seldom have a clue about what I’ve found.

Nevertheless, rocks fascinate me. I love to collect colored rocks or shinny rocks, unusual rocks or rocks with fossils, smooth egg shaped rocks or bumpy, brain shaped rocks. I like to inspect them to see if there’s some fossil hidden in the rock. I like to clean them up and admire their colors. Spraying the rocks with water, I can see what they would look like polished. I enjoy the way the sun strikes them and turns them pink or orange in the sunset.

What is this fossil faced rock?

Close up of the face in fossil rock found by S.Henkel Feb. 2011 in Imperial Dam Recreation Area, Arizona-California border.

Close up of the face in fossil rock found by S.Henkel Feb. 2011 in Imperial Dam Recreation Area, Arizona-California border.

Found by S.Henkel Feb. 2011 at Imperial Dam Recreation Area, Arizona-California border.

Found by S.Henkel Feb. 2011 at Imperial Dam Recreation Area, Arizona-California border.

RVing in the Desert - A Rockhounds Paradise

As we frequently spend our winters RVing in the Southwest, I have almost unlimited opportunity to collect rocks. Usually parking on BLM land, we set up our RV campsite on the stone and dirt desert floor. Like other snowbirds parking in the desert for the winter, we often outline our camp with rock that we've found nearby.

The land near Quartzsite, Arizona or on the California/Arizona border near Yuma is perfect for hiking or exploring in our Jeep. Following the old mining roads, we often find beautiful white or pink quartz, obsidian and even bits of turquoise. Sometimes I find rocks with shinny copper or gold colored flakes in them and imagine that I’m finding treasure. If only it were that easy!

If I knew more about rocks, I could tell you what the pink ones are and why some of them are bright green or orange. But it doesn’t matter all that much to me, as I look at my rock collection as one would look at a collage or art project. Our campsite often sports little piles of rocks that I’ve picked up on our hikes and brought back to admire. When we head back east, I usually sneak 20 or 30 pounds of rocks into the RV to take home with me to display in baskets or jars or on my garden wall. (Shades of Lucille Ball in the Long, Long Trailer!)

The back view of the face fossil rock

This is a closeup of the impression on the back of the face fossil rock. Found Feb. 2011 by S. Henkel at Imperial Dam Recreation Area on the California/Arizona border.

This is a closeup of the impression on the back of the face fossil rock. Found Feb. 2011 by S. Henkel at Imperial Dam Recreation Area on the California/Arizona border.

The back of the face fossil rock with U.S. penny to show size. Found Feb. 2011 by S. Henkel at Imperial Dam Recreation Area on the California/Arizona border.

The back of the face fossil rock with U.S. penny to show size. Found Feb. 2011 by S. Henkel at Imperial Dam Recreation Area on the California/Arizona border.

A Surprising Find for My Rock and Fossil Collection

Last winter we enjoyed the mild weather at the Imperial Dam Recreation Area on the California/Arizona border near Yuma. On one of our Jeep treks to the Castle Dome area, I was lucky enough to find a geode that I broke open to expose some pretty quartz crystals. After this serendipitous find, I walked with my eyes glued to the ground looking for that perfectly shaped rock that might prove to be another geode.

The open area across from our campsite was covered with smooth rocks coated with desert glaze. They were shades of orange, brown, yellow and black with a sprinkling of other colors here and there. Sometimes I would find white chalcedony that I always picked up with the thought of making jewelry someday. Other times, there were tiny stones in other pretty colors that fascinated me.

The Face in the Rock

One day as I walked through this area, I spotted a small oval rock with an odd little impression on it. Thinking it might be a fossil, I picked it up to get a closer look, but couldn’t make out if it was a fossil or just some odd shapes pressed into the rock. When I turned it over, however, I couldn’t help but give a yelp of surprise. There in the rock was a tiny, perfectly formed face!

Seriously, What Do You Think?

What Do You Think This Is?

Oh, my gosh! This was definitely a little creepy! Is it a fossil of a small animal bird? Is it an alien preserved in stone? It seems to be something that became trapped in a rolling bit of mud eons ago and eventually turned to stone. But WHAT? Being the imaginative sort, I like to think that I found something unique and other-worldly. Maybe it is an alien fossil!

What do you think this is?

NOTE: If I find out, I will post the answer below.

This article Copyright ©2011 by Stephanie Henkel

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Books about Fossils

New Information on Fossil Rock Carving

Feb. 3, 2012
I received an email from a man in New Mexico who had an interesting suggestion. Here's what he said:

"Wow! Really weird looking. Definitely looks like the work of an intelligent being.

Years ago, I saw something similar to your rock here in New Mexico. It was stated that it was a carving likely made by an Indian Medicine Man 100s or even thousands of years ago. You might want to show it to an expert in Indian artifacts - but never let it out of your sight."

Now I am interested to know whether anyone else thinks this might be a carving of some sort? ~ sh
Feb. 20, 2012
Here is the most promising identification of the rock to date from Dolores Pompa. She writes:

"I am an enrolled Apache. What you have found is a figure rock or "pierre figure" according to achaeologists. This rock was purposely incised and it resembles an owl in my opinion. These rocks were used to resemble spirits in my culture.

I have a figure rock here from AZ. It is an old man's head. It is very large and unique.

Look at the site You will find it interesting."

and in another email:

The website is very interesting. What is very sad though is that these rocks and pebbles are spiritual and represent the souls of those who have passed. We have had these incised pebbles going back many thousands of years and our diyin used these in ceremony and sometimes they were buried with us. Especially the owl which is our messenger of the spirit world. It is something that people collect and don't understand what they are holding and the potential for problems can develop."

Thank you so much Ms. Pompa! This is most helpful! -sh



Native America Artifacts

RVing Necessities

I'd love to hear your comments

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 20, 2017:

Thanks for your note, Randy. I appreciate your input about my rock, and certainly have wondered about its creator. The more we see of the Southwest, the more we realize the complexity of the various cultures that lived here and traveled through the areas.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on March 13, 2017:

Hey Stephanie I've been collecting and studying Native American artifacts for most of my life, and wrote a few hubs about them as well. Yes, I agree it is an owl motif as the owl was a very important spirit creature in many NA cultures. Because the owl hunted mainly at night, and could fly almost silently, it became something of a lesser god to some NA cultures.

It's a wonderful piece you've found I'll wager you've wondered about the person who made it and how long ago it was. Yep, every time I find a projectile point or artifact I can't help but wonder the same. Enjoyed the read.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 13, 2017:

Hi Liz, Well, I didn't put it back, but I do treat it respectfully and have it stored carefully in my home. Hope that the spirits will forgive me!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on March 12, 2017:

How very interesting! Even before I read all the way to the end, including your updates, I was immediately struck with the image, and said to myself, 'it looks like an owl!'

I guess in a way, it's a form of petroglyph, but 'portable,' rather than carved into a cave wall.

Having read the info from the 'enrolled Apache,' you'd better go put it back, lest some ill will from the spirit world comes after you! ;-)

Besarien from South Florida on April 04, 2015:

My first thought when I saw this was tiny turtle skull trapped in sediment then I thought maybe coral which can take on all kinds of weird shapes. What a great find! I wish you much luck in identifying it.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 06, 2014:

Lisa Keating - I also believe in preserving nature. This rock is not only a conversation piece in my home, but a tiny treasure that I enjoy every time I see it. I hope one day to come across someone who can tell me its true story. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

LisaKeating on September 05, 2014:

When I went to Hawaii, we were told not pick up and take lava rocks because it would bring bad luck. Since you took the rock from its site not knowing it's significance, I suggest you just treat it with respect as we should with many forms of nature. I am not superstitious, but I do believe in preserving nature. Enjoyed the hub.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on August 23, 2014:

Suzanne Day - I'm still undecided on what this rock really is. It really does look like the face was inserted into the rock, but it could be a naturally fossilized creature. I do love rocks, but don't have any expertise in identification of any but the most basic. Thanks for your input here!

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on August 23, 2014:

Hi Stephanie, what an interesting story in the world of rockhounding! My opinion is that the face in the rock is just an oddity of nature (good to find) but that it is a fossilised sea urchin or sea creature (they often have the small dots and scratches as shown). To me, the "face" does look like an owl though, which probably indicates you were wise to pick it and write a hub about it! Voted beautiful and looking forward to reading more of your rockhound adventures...

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 14, 2013:

Hi Nell Rose, I've had quite a few different opinions on the origins of this rock. Perhaps one day I'll find out its true nature.

Nell Rose from England on May 14, 2013:

Hi Daisy, yes I can see why that lady thought it looked like an owl, I can see that too. But its a fascinating thing to find. If it is a Native carving then its amazing, but then again it may not be...! lol!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 14, 2013:

Tillsontitan - Altough I had not considered that this might be a figure rock when I first found it, as I read more about them, I think that it's very possible. One day when I'm able, I will take this to an expert to examine. Thanks so much for reading my hub and for your comments!

Mary Craig from New York on May 14, 2013:

This was an impressive hub Stephanie. So many twists and turns and all about a rock! Imagine if it is a "figure rock", what a find. Thank you for sharing this story!

Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 13, 2013:

Sunshine625 - LOL - it does resemble a potato in size and color, but it's definitely a rock. Now where it originated is a mystery!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on May 13, 2013:

The photo is smaller on my phone so I thought it was a defective potato. Haha!! Cool hub and interesting find!!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 11, 2013:

LeTotten - Thanks so much for your nice comment! I'm still wondering what my mystery rock really is.

LeAnna Totten on April 10, 2013:

This is the most interesting hub I have read so far. Really Cool! Congrats on such a great find.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 17, 2013:

Erin Fitzgerald - How wonderful that you have a place where you can find such interesting and unique rocks and fossils! If you live near a university, you may be able to get some insights into your finds by contacting someone in the geology or anthropology department. Thanks for sharing your experience here!

Erin Fitzgerald on January 17, 2013:

when I saw that rock all I wanted to do is go to my secret place. I have found an old creek bed in MN. I found lots of rocks that have face's, birds, bear, elephants and even dinosaurs on them. I know there very old. I have found stone tools also but I don't know who to talk to about this. It is very exciting to find fossils and other ancient things. I find cool rocks all over MN. I would need a semi if i had to move. Great find!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 16, 2012:

Faythef - This stone is one of my favorite finds and is still quite a mystery. Glad you enjoyed my article. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment!

Faythe Payne from USA on November 16, 2012:

wow that is interesting....when I saw the back side my first thought was of a small turtle....Anyway great Hub..this was the first one I have read and am looking forward to reading them all.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 26, 2012:

Moonlake - I'm the same way. I collect rocks that I like for whatever reason- their color, shape, texture - and have rocks everywhere just like you do. Yes, my fossil rock is a very interesting find!

moonlake from America on March 26, 2012:

We're always looking at rocks hoping to find a meteor. I have rocks sitting around my house. I don't know why I just like them.

You have a very strange rock, very interesting and what a find. Voted Up.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 26, 2012:

Hi Don,

It's funny, I've looked for things like arrowheads in stream beds and shark's teeth on the beach without ever finding anything. I was very surprised to find this interesting fossil rock. Now I am even more aware of what's on the ground when I walk!

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on March 26, 2012:

Stephanie! What a great Hub. I love this kind of thing, and as an Rver, I would often find myself walking around with my head tilted down to the ground as I roamed around the countryside. No such luck though to find something as good as what you show in your Hub.

Thanks for the Hub.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 06, 2012:

Natashalh - I'm still not sure what this is, but it is pretty cool! I am now intrigued by the man who suggested that it might be an Indian carving...I have to look into that. Thanks for your interest!

Natasha from Hawaii on February 06, 2012:

Wow, cool stuff. Thanks for sharing!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on January 25, 2012:


I must admit that your theory is laugh-out-loud silly.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

Daisy Mariposa - The fossil does look like a face was inserted into the rock. It's very strange! I love finding fossils, and it seems that you can find them in many different environments if you are looking. Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing my article!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

Alocsin - Haha...that's the most interesting theory I've heard in a long time! Wonder how that Scottish shortbread got to Arizona? Thanks for the smile!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 24, 2012:

Quite unusual but I know precisely what it is. A fossilized cookie! I ate one just like it the other day -- like Scottish shortbread, only bigger and more buttery. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on January 24, 2012:


What an interesting article! I shared it with my followers.

The front of the rock looks like someone carved the face, inserted it into the rock, and then dropped / lost their creation. The underside of the rock definitely is a fossil, possibly of a bird or other small animal.

I found some fossils when a highway was being built near my home. One is an avocado leaf. The other is a clam shell. The shell fossil is especially interesting since I found it at approximately 750 feet above sea level more than 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 08, 2011:

Hello Quotations,

I don't think I've ever seen a meteorite - it was just fun to speculate. I'd be interested to hear any theories on what it might be...

Thanks for stopping by to read my hub and to comment.

Robert P from Canada on October 08, 2011:

This is definitely a fossil, but unlikely to be alien since the stone does not appear to be a meteorite.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 22, 2011:

Hi Cara,

It is rather mysterious, which only makes it more fun. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!

cardelean from Michigan on September 22, 2011:

Wow! So cool! I'm definitely thinking alien, but I hope you someday get a "real" answer. Thanks for sharing your great find.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 21, 2011:

Just teasing you, Peggy. :) But it is definitely rock hard, both the face and the surrounding material. Interesting, to say the least!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 21, 2011:

To answer your question, I think it is just coincidence that your rock looks like an alien face. I voted as such just for fun. Wonder what alien DNA looks like? If it is rock hard...then perhaps you really have something! :))

Collecting rocks can be quite addictive!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 21, 2011:

Hi Peter,

If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them. Nice to hear from you. Thanks for visiting my hub!

PETER LUMETTA from KENAI, ALAKSA on September 21, 2011:

Hi Stephanie, I loved this story because I am the same way you are about rocks. I too am a "rock licker". I think that is the reason I became a gemologist, I like rocks. Interesting piece you found, please let us know if you find out what it is, Thanks


Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 21, 2011:

Hi Peggy, Collecting rocks as souvenirs is habit forming, and, in my case, according to my husband, can get out of hand. I do love to pick up a rock here and a rock there... actually, everywhere! My "Alien" rock was quite a surprise. (Why do you laugh when you say it's an alien fossil?)

Thanks for visiting and commenting!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 21, 2011:

Hi Bob, Hmmm...the saddle bone of an ear? I'll have to see if I can find other photos of that particular bone. One day I will have to find a paleontologist who might be able to give me a professional opinion, but meanwhile, I kind of like the idea of a Martian. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment on my hub!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 21, 2011:

Obviously it is an alien fossil! Haha! What a unique find. I also love picking up rocks as souvenirs and have many of them in our garden.

diogenes from UK and Mexico on September 21, 2011:

Hi Stephanie. Boy, that's an odd one, isn't it? When I first saw it, it reminded my of something similar I have seen before. Something like sand-dollars, with the design in them that many people say are religious (I forget the details, I am no paleantologist! I guess a museum will have the answer for you. It does remind me of the saddle bone in a mamalian ear, too.Hope it's part of a Martian! VERY interesting and voted up...Bob

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