Five Golden Rings…From an Asteroid

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Today is the Fifth Day of Christmas and, according to the song, your true love should be giving you five golden rings any moment now. However, if you’re expecting some small and shiny circles of metal, don’t be too disappointed if instead you get a bunch of birds. When the song was written, the rings in question weren’t jewelry to wear on your hands, but rather ring-necked birds, like the common pheasant. We don’t recommend you try wearing the birds as jewelry.

Ring-necked pheasant - you get five of them!

If your true love was going to skip the avian presents and give you five actual golden rings, there’s a good chance the gold used to make those rings might have come from outer space, delivered to Earth by an asteroid billions of years ago.

New research indicates that a series of enormous asteroid impacts 4.5 billion years ago are the source of Earth’s gold. The largest of the asteroids to hit the planet is estimated to have been the same size as Pluto.


December 2010
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