Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Walking in your footsteps...

I spent a large portion of the last two days digging up the backyard, getting ready to put a new deck in.

I found a large, shale-like rock underneath our grass, and had to smash it into pieces to remove it.

As luck would have it, one of the cracks I made in the rock revealed a fossil!
I emailed the above photo to my friend Barb who works at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature here in Winnipeg. She got the following response from the museum's paleontologist, Dr. Graham Young.

Your friend’s fossil is the inside of a horn coral (rugose coral). If he found it in Winnipeg, then it is probably of Ordovician age (about 445-450 million years old).

The fossil was the hard support of a little animal similar to a sea anenome, that lived on an ancient tropical seafloor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugosa

I was pretty stunned. The shattered remains of the rock were just going to be tossed in with the gravel going under the deck. Had one of the six or seven cracks I'd made in the rock been a quarter inch to the left, the remnants of this rugose coral could have stayed hidden for an eternity.

It's astonishing to think that, before I set it loose, this fossil made 445,000,000 trips around the sun. It was around during the time of the second largest marine life extinction of our planet's history, and existed before dinosaurs were even invented!

And it was in my backyard.

Here's a closeup of the fossil.
Currently playing: The Police - Walking In Your Footsteps
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

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