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1881, April 22: Live Worms found Encased in Stone

The Legend:

On April 22, 1881, a man named Joe Molino was sixty feet down in the Wide West Mine near Ruby Hill, Nevada, when he broke a limestone rock with a sledgehammer after said rock fell from the wall and hit his foot. Much to his surprise, the rock had a fist-sized cavity in the center which was full of white worms that resembled maggots. They appeared dead, but after a half-hour of exposure the worms started to move; after an hour, they were crawling all around the floor of the mine, watched by all the miners.

          The mine operators took charge of the stone and the worms, and sent them all off to the U.S. Bureau of Mines. A few weeks later they received a letter that simply stated that the whole matter could not have happened as the miners had described it, so it was assumed the story was wrong.

False Lead

          The earliest source I have for this story is an article from the FATE Magazine of January 1954 written by Henry Winfred Splitter, and, undoubtedly, the story was picked up from here by Frank Edwards for inclusion in his 1959 book, Stranger Than Science. Unfortunately, I've been completely unable to find a trace of this incident earlier than the 1954 FATE article; and believe me, I've tried. This leaves a 73-year-gap between when the event supposedly occurred, and when it was first noted... which isn't good. Until I see any evidence that this story existed earlier than FATE Magazine, I'm marking it as a "False Lead," a story that has nothing to prove it ever happened.

        In addition, I have to add that Frank Edwards seems to have added to the story between it first appearance in FATE Magazine, and his republishing of it. Edwards' is currently the first and only source for the fact that the stone hit Molino on the foot, that the worms at first appeared dead (in FATE they were alive and crawling right from their discovery), and that the stone and worms were sent anywhere after their discovery... the original FATE article simply states the worms were found.