Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Wupatki National Monument

with 25 comments


Continuing north in Arizona from Sunset Crater on October 21, 2016, we soon came to Wupatki National Monument, which we, like most people, visited for its Indian ruins. As a photographer, I appreciated the place for its desert landscapes as well.

On a horizontal rock surface at the site I found a feature that could pass as the inspiration for Rorschach inkblots. What does it say of me if I see this as the fossil of a spiny fish? Chime in if you’d like to say how you see it.


© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2017 at 4:57 AM

25 Responses

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  1. I certainly see a spiny fish. But it could also be a seed pod…..maybe?


    January 25, 2017 at 5:32 AM

  2. I’d believe its’s a fish fossil. I also see what could be a the head of a buffalo…its hair standing. (Some type of primitive engraving.)


    January 25, 2017 at 5:48 AM

    • The image is on stone, and since you mention engraving, we can imagine an early form of lithography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2017 at 7:04 AM

  3. When I saw your post title, and nothing more, my first question was: New Zealand, or the American Southwest? The photos pretty much settled that, given the color of the rock (and your description, of course).

    Your little rock blot does resemble a puffer fish, but if you gave it a ninety-degree counterclockwise turn, it could just as easily be one of those desert plants from your first photo, with its extensive root system included.


    January 25, 2017 at 6:16 AM

    • You’re right that the name could be Māori, which has all the consonants and vowels in Wupatki. (Of course Wupatki is only an English rendering of the Indian name, which could include sounds not found in English or Māori.)

      Perhaps a botanist can tell us whether these desert plants have a root system shaped like the one you’ve imagined.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2017 at 7:12 AM

  4. I agree with you on the spiny fish.


    January 25, 2017 at 10:00 AM

  5. Fish? Yes. It also looks like a Martian land scape. How big is the region? What are those little objects in the bottom of the pits?

    Jim Ruebush

    January 25, 2017 at 10:24 AM

    • I don’t remember precisely but I was standing on the rock with my legs straddling the formation as I aimed downward, so it wouldn’t have been more than a couple of feet across. I’m afraid I don’t know what the little objects are nor what the black is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2017 at 11:43 AM

  6. It could be a puffer fish but it could be a plant too. I love fossils, if you start thinking how old they are…..


    January 25, 2017 at 11:19 AM

    • Everyone has been able to see a fish. I’m certainly open to a plant as well.

      I wish I more often encountered fossils when I’m out in nature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2017 at 3:19 PM

      • Then you have to visit Coatia, their beaches are made of big stones and there are fossils on many of them.


        January 25, 2017 at 4:08 PM

  7. Tiny but violent meteor! Probably wiped out all the local ants 😮

  8. Oh yes, spiny fish, complete with mouth already in the correct place! It would be fun to print that and take it to the next level with paints! Most likely many could do that with computer art!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    January 25, 2017 at 7:23 PM

  9. Definitely a spiny fish.


    February 24, 2017 at 5:37 PM

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