School teacher discovers fossil that could be 300 million years old

(ORDO NEWS) — Lisa Cormier was walking along the beach at Cape Egmont on Monday afternoon when she spotted something unusual, partially buried on the shore.

“I saw something that I took for a root, and when I looked closely, I realized that there were ribs. And then I saw the spine and the skull,” she said.

Cormier photographed her finds to share with her family. The photos were sent by mother-in-law Laura McNeill of Prehistoric Island Tours. McNeil immediately contacted Cormier, as well as other specialists.

Geologist and paleontologist John Calder said the fossil appears to date from the Carboniferous, close to the beginning of the Permian.

Approximately 300 million years ago. Such a find, according to Calder, who wrote a book on the geological history of PEI, is “extremely rare.”

“Such fossils occur once every 50 or 100 years,” he said. “I mean, there’s no real frequency, but it’s rare. And it could be the only fossil of its kind on the tree of life… the evolution of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and us.”

School teacher discovers fossil that could be 300 million years old 2

The fossil has not been identified, but according to Calder it is likely a reptile, or at least one of their close relatives.

“This is an early stage in the evolution of reptiles from amphibians, they branch out, and therefore it will be a real mystery. It will probably take more than one year to figure out its identity,” he said.

According to a CBC News report, after several days of work, a team of excavators consisting of Matt Stimson, Patrick Brunet and Linda Berko were able to get it.

On Saturday, the fossil was carefully moved by Parks Canada staff from the find site to a building in Greenwich that serves as a de facto paleontological repository.

It won’t be there long, Calder said, because it needs to be sent to a paleontology lab to be examined by specialists. “They will probably use a CT scan.”

Calder said that in the past couple of years, fossil finds like this one on PEI Island have become more frequent. He advised the inhabitants of the island to be on the alert.

“There are far more ordinary people walking on beaches in the world than paleontologists, and most of these important discoveries are not made by scientists.”

Lisa Cormier called her discovery a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave a mark on the history of science.

“To think that I have found something that could be 300 million years old is incredible, I think it will be a one-time discovery, but I will continue my walks and I will continue to look for sea glass, and maybe I will find something more”.

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