A teacher was walking her dog on a beach on Canada’s Prince Edward Island when she came across something that was millions of years in the making – she found a fossil that predates dinosaurs,The Washington Post reported.
Lisa St. Coeur Cormier was going for a daily dog walk with her pup, Sammy, along Cape Egmont Beach when what she thought was a tree root poking out of the sand turned out ot be a 300 million-year-old fossil, according to Simplemost.
“When I looked closer, I realized there was a rib cage,” she told The Washington Post. “And around that, there was a spine and a skull.”
Cormier, a former middle school science teacher, took photos of what she found and through a relative they were passed along to Laura MacNeill of Prehistoric Island Tours, which runs tours of sites with fossils on the island, Simplemost reported.
Local geologists and paleontologists who work with Prehistoric Island Tours turned up to see what Cormier found, CBC reported.
One of the geologists and paleontologists, John Calder, said the fossil appears to be from near the end of the Carboniferous period and into the Permian period, which dates back to 300 million years ago, CBC reported.
He told CBC the findings were “rare,” adding, “A fossil like this comes up every 50 years or 100 years,” he said. “I mean there’s no real frequency, but it’s rare. And this could be a one-of-a-kind fossil in the tree of life … of evolution of amphibians, to reptiles, to mammals to us.”
Calder told CBC that very few specimens have been discovered from that period and that it could even be a previously unknown species.
The site is currently being excavated and studied for more findings and Prehistoric Island Tours posted images of the discovery on their Facebook page.
“It will probably take a year to figure out exactly what this is,” Calder told The Washington Post. “We’re not 100 percent sure that it’s a reptile.”
Calder did add to The Washington Post that the fossil was probably uncovered due to beach erosion and the elements and was afraid it could have washed away in the tides had it not been found.