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If a particular type of rock specimen is found throughout Earth and is made entirely of natural minerals, but the individual specimens differ minutely from another in size and shape and look to be manufactured by intelligence, does science have to conclude it’s just a rock because the composition is entirely from earth minerals? Or is it because these specimens are also found on Mars? If only Earth had them, would science say that they are ancient artifacts from a past civilization?

Here are photos of Moqui Marbles from Earth, and similar formations on Mars. I've held some that are hollow and some that were filled. They even have a negative pole effect on each other as though intended to keep a distance from the next one.

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Moqui-Marbles Utah

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    $\begingroup$ "look to be manufactured by intelligence" That's the crux of the matter. In what ways, and to what degree of probability, do they seem to be of intelligent origin? Just being unusual or of not yet explainable origin is not enough. $\endgroup$ – Aabaakawad Nov 14 '15 at 18:49
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Like Michael, I find your question a little unclear, but the crux of it seems to be this:

... does science have to conclude [that a specimen is] just a rock because the composition is entirely from earth minerals?

The answer is an emphatic no. There are lots of non-rocks out there, many of them manufactured by the (alleged) intelligence known as Homo sapiens. There is certainly no rule in geology that you have to exclude this possibility from consideration when identifying a rock, no matter what its composition. After all, we’re perfectly capable of manufacturing artefacts from earth minerals. In fact, when identifying a specimen, you have to consider the possibility that it's a product of intelligence: many enthusiastic amateurs have ended up collecting bits of brick, rubble, salt-lick, industrial slag and so forth by failing to do this :-).

One factor you mention in your question is the property

look to be manufactured by intelligence

This, it turns out, is often a less useful diagnostic than you might expect. Lots of manufactured specimens don't look particularly manufactured, especially after a bit of erosion and weathering. Conversely, lots of naturally occurring objects look remarkably regular and intricate.

slag and pyrite

On the left, objects manufactured by intelligence (slag from the Knight Smelter in Utah). On the right, a naturally occurring specimen of dodecahedral pyrite from Elba, Italy. So a subjective, purely visual judgement that something ‘looks manufactured’ or ‘doesn't look manufactured’ can be very misleading.

Your question also asks specifically about the ‘Moqui marbles’ of the Navajo Sandstone:

If Earth only had them would science say they are ancient artifacts from a past civilization?

The answer here is, again, a firm no. This is easy to check because, of course, the ‘Moqui marbles’ had been observed long before Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004, and at that time scientists did not regard them as ancient artifacts from a past civilization. For example, Chan et al. (2000) described them like this:

Small concretions of secondary iron oxide deposits are exclusively hematite-cemented sandstone. These concretions form all kinds of shapes from millimeters to centimeters in diameter, and cut across primary bedding structure. Some concretions are solid spherical balls around unknown nuclei; others are spherical rinds with plain red-stained, host rock interiors (lacking black-colored hematite cement on the inside). Concretions also exhibit forms that appear to have coalesced or joined (similar to two glued marbles), or exhibit a variety of other odd shapes (buttons, disks, irregular knobby forms to spiked-looking balls).

As you see, the authors identify these objects as concretions. (Also note that, although you claim that they're only "minutely" different in size and shape, the description here mentions a great deal of variation in both those properties.) Concretion is an extensively studied geological phenomenon which occurs across the globe. There’s no need to invoke an ‘intelligent manufacturer’ to explain it, whether or not concretions are found on other planets.


Chan, M. A., Parry, W. T., & Bowman, J. R. (2000). Diagenetic hematite and manganese oxides and fault-related fluid flow in Jurassic sandstones, southeastern Utah. AAPG bulletin, 84(9), 1281-1310.

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    $\begingroup$ A characteristically great answer, @Pont — direct, illustrated, supported by evidence. Kudos. $\endgroup$ – kwinkunks Nov 10 '15 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ @kwinkunks Thanks! As usual I learned some interesting things while assembling it. $\endgroup$ – Pont Nov 10 '15 at 18:45
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It's not completely clear what you're trying to ask here, but I'll have a go at it anyway.

If earth only had them would science say there are ancient artifacts from a past civilization?

The only way "science" would say there are ancient artifacts from a past civilisation is if there is evidence to support that. This is not some kind of default thing science resorts to when it cannot explain something. This is also something that UFOists like: you see a light in the sky and you can't explain it, so it has to be an alien spaceship. No - it only means that you do not know what it is. Beautifully summed up by this meme:

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Back to topic.

Does science have to conclude its just a rock because the composition is entirely from earth minerals? Or is it because these specimens are found on mars also so science had to say there natural.

A common misconeption is that rocks on Earth are any different from rocks on Mars or the Moon. That's actually false - these planetary bodies are made, to a first approximation, from the same stuff Earth is made of. Basalt (and I'm being extremely sensu lato on this). There's nothing magical or mystical or alien about basalt. And you know what - because Earth is such a complex planet with tectonics and surface processes and everything there are much more interesting stuff on Earth then elsewhere (in my humble opinion).

If a specimen of rocks are found through out earth entirely of natural minerals but are different minutely from another in size and shape but look to be manufactured by intelligence.

Never underestimate the power of nature! Particularly when dealing with rocks and minerals. I know - I'm a scientist whose job is to make this stuff in a lab. Some natural rocks and minerals are extremely difficult to make.

How science identifies rocks?

It's also pretty easy to distinguish natural specimens from artificial ones. We scientists don't just look at rocks, we use a bunch of multi-million-dollar instrumentation to study them. When using those instruments distinguishing natural from artificial samples becomes as easy as distinguishing an elephant from a mouse.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Micheal-Then why was NASA so stumbled when they first viewed data showing Mars blueberries/Moqui marbles? It would of been nothing surprising or new like you explain away so easily.And I never mentioned Aliens you did.There is no evidence of intelligent life from another planet,But there is evidence of ancient man.We just don't know what he was capable of. $\endgroup$ – user5434678 Nov 10 '15 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Micheal-Please post a link to the research science collects to determine what is a fossil,natural minerals,and artifacts to answer my question. $\endgroup$ – user5434678 Nov 10 '15 at 2:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr.Cruz can you provide a reference to NASA being "stumbled" about this? Preferably a link to something hosted by NASA or a research article, and not a blog post. $\endgroup$ – casey Nov 10 '15 at 3:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr.Cruz I don't know about that particular case. But again - being "stumbled" about something is how science works. You find something you don't expect or can't explain - that's what makes science so much fun and interesting. This does not,however, mean that an ancient civilisation is the only or most likely explanation for whatever this thing we can't explain yet. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Nov 10 '15 at 3:48
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    $\begingroup$ @TheVoid Here is the NASA press release on the discovery of Martian spherules. NASA don't seem particularly "stumbled": in para. 5 a researcher points out that "[a] number of straightforward geological processes can yield round shapes". They do say that these features have not previously been observed on Mars, but that doesn't mean that they're astonishing or inexplicable: Mars is largely unexplored (and was even more unexplored in 2004) so we should expect quite a lot of "first observation of phenomenon X on Mars" events. $\endgroup$ – Pont Nov 11 '15 at 12:19

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