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Putnisite is completely unique and "unrelated to anything," scientists say.
Meet putnisite, the world's newest mineral (Peter Elliott/Mineralogical Magazine Courtesy)
It's purple and pretty and composed of cube-like crystals just 0.5 mm in size.
But what really makes putnisite, the world's newest mineral, truly unique is that nothing like it has ever been discovered before.
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“Most minerals belong to a family or small group of related minerals, or if they aren’t related to other minerals they often are to a synthetic compound, but putnisite is completely unique and unrelated to anything,” said Dr. Peter Elliott, lead author of a new study detailing the discovery in Mineralogical Magazine.
The transluscent purple crystals with a pink streak through the middle were discovered by a mining company in the Polar Bear peninsula of Western Australia.
— Uni of Adelaide (@UniofAdelaide) April 23, 2014
Putnisite is named after German mineralogists Andrew and Christine Putnis for their contributions to mineralogy.
What's got scientists so intrigued by the mineral is its composition.
It's a rare combination of strontium, calcium, chromium, sulphur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen that's completely distinct from any of the other 4,000 known minerals in the world.
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It was found on volcanic rock and appears to have dark pink spots on a dark green and white rock when viewed under a microscope.
Its commercial use has yet to be determined.
“Nature seems to be far cleverer at dreaming up new chemicals than any researcher in a laboratory,” Elliott said.