Five-year-old girl discovers 160-million-year-old fossil

A fully restored ammonite, Rieneckia (Collotia) odysseus similar to the one found by Emily Baldry

From the Daily Mail in Britain:

Girl, 5, unearths 160 million-year-old fossil… using plastic seaside spade

Last updated at 10:23 PM on 17th March 2011

A five-year-old girl has discovered a huge 160 million-year-old fossil on her first ever archaeological dig – using a children’s seaside spade.

Emily Baldry unearthed the 130lb (60kg) specimen as she dug into the ground at Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire.

The curious youngster was prodding the earth with her green plastic beach spade when she struck something hard in the ground.

Her dad Jon Baldry and palaeontologist Neville Hollingworth helped Emily to dig the enormous fossil out of the ground.

They were amazed to discover she had found a rare 162.8million-year-old Rieneckia ammonite fossil – measuring 16 inches (40cm) in diameter.

The fossilised sea creature with a spiral-patterned shell was a mollusc that lived in the oceans during the Jurassic period – the same time as dinosaurs.

Emily’s fossil had spikes to ward off predators and was encased in a block of mudstone when it came out of the ground.

Proud dad Jon, from Chippenham, Wiltshire, recalled the moment when his daughter struck fossil gold.

He said: ‘We had only been digging for a few moments when the spades hit something. We tried to dig around it and that was when we realised the size of it.

‘She is a very inquisitive little girl and got very excited about going on a proper dig. To find something like this was very special.

‘Emily enjoys digging, usually right in the middle of the back garden, but this was the first time we had ever taken her to something like this.

‘We didn’t know what to make of it until we realised how excited the resident palaeontologist was.

‘She did it all herself – we’re very proud of her.’

Emily was taken to the dig on Sunday near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with dad Jon, and grandparents Pam and Les Baldry from Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

Mr Hollingworth, the expert who was volunteering on the dig, said: ‘It is quite spectacular, and all the more special that a little girl discovered it.

‘To give you some idea of how rare this is, I have been looking for these for around 25 years – and have only ever found three.

‘This is also the biggest of its type that I have ever seen. They are incredibly rare – it was very exciting.

‘It is all the more remarkable considering Emily was using the type of spade children dig with at the seaside.’

The Cotswold Water Park stretches for 42 square miles across the Gloucestershire-Wiltshire border and has 150 lakes.

During the Jurassic period the area would have been a warm, shallow sea.

Society spokeswoman Jill Bewley said: ‘The chances of finding something like this [Rieneckia ammonites] are really, really slim.

‘It’s the proverbial needle in a haystack so to hit upon something like this is quite phenomenal.’

The fossil is now being cleaned and will go on display at the Gateway Information Centre along with a range of other fossils.

See also here.

Big Dinosaurs Were As Warm As Mammals. But Were They Warm-Blooded? Here.

Glow worms triple numbers in Cotswold Water Park: here.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2012) — Research led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History shows that ammonites-an extinct type of shelled mollusk that’s closely related to modern-day nautiluses and squids-made homes in the unique environments surrounding methane seeps in the seaway that once covered America’s Great Plains. The findings, published online this week in the journal Geology, provide new insights into the mode of life and habitat of these ancient animals: here.

5 thoughts on “Five-year-old girl discovers 160-million-year-old fossil

  1. 2 North Texas boys discover ‘fossil gold mine’

    The Associated Press

    Updated: 6:43 p.m. Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Published: 5:10 p.m. Sunday, March 20, 2011

    SHERMAN, Texas — For Andrew Carroll and Thomas Smith, two North Texas sixth-graders, the adventure began when they found a bone while exploring a creek southeast of Sherman.

    “We all got excited because I knew it was too big to be a cow bone, so we knew it was a dinosaur bone,” Andrew said of himself and his Pottsboro Middle School classmate.

    What it was, once the Dallas Paleontological Society investigated. The bone was a pelvis of a Columbian mammoth, one of the two largest species of mammoth.

    “This area is a fossil gold mine,” society member Ed Swiatovy of Sherman told the Herald Democrat of Sherman and Denison for a story in Sunday editions. “At one time, it was under an inland sea. When it came to the end of the dinosaurs, when mammals took over, this area was grass plains and woodlands — everything that mammals like. This area has always been conducive to marine or mammal life forms.”

    Society volunteers have excavated the area found by the boys, dinging a shoulder bone, fragments of two leg bones, a lower jaw with teeth and the back of a skull, Swiatovy said. All of the bones have been sent to the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas for study and carbon dating.

    A team of archaeologists from Southern Methodist University in Dallas surveyed the site for any signs of prehistoric human life but found none, he said.

    The area along the Red River is rich in fossils, Swiatovy said. About five years ago, a team of society volunteers recovered the remains of a plesiosaur determined to have been about 90 million years old.

    The Columbian mammoth and its cousin, the woolly mammoth, died out in the area between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago, Swiatovy said. The Columbian mammoth was one of the two largest mammoth species, standing 12 to 18 inches taller than today’s African elephant, its largest modern descendant.

    Swiatovy said the results of the museum analysis won’t be known for another three to four weeks. Meanwhile, Andrew Carroll and Thomas Smith say they plan to spend a lot more time in the creek, looking for other fossils.


  2. Pingback: Wall lizards and mosasaur discovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Mysterious Ordovician fossil discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.