Stephanie Leco, an amateur paleontologist who grew up daydreaming about finding T-rex fossils as she dug through her backyard, struck the paleontology lottery earlier this summer when she unearthed the 220-million-year-old jaw bone of a long-snouted fish previously thought to have been extinct in North America at the time, the Associated Press reported via U.S. News.
Leco’s discovery, which was made last month, is roughly equivalent to the size of a pinky fingernail, according to Fox News. The site where it was unearthed, located in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, was once a lake or a pond during the Late Triassic period.
The national park at which the fossil was found is notably an area in which dinosaur age fossils are routinely discovered.
Until now, similar fish fossils from the Late Triassic period have only been found in China, according to Petrified Forest National Park paleontologist Bill Parker who was quoted by Fox News as having said that those “who actually study this group of fish might start setting their sights in our direction now”.
People who actually study this group of fish might start setting their sights in our direction now
The excavation in which Stephanie, 26, discovered the fossil was a citizens dig held at the park last month near Holbrook.
In light of her discovery, the 26-year-old amateur paleontologist is now more fascinated with paleontology than she ever was before. Since unearthing the fossil, she’s begun to acquire relevant books covering the Triassic period in order to brush up on her knowledge, allowing her to discuss her finding in a manner which is both fluent as well as authoritative
In other recent paleontology discoveries, construction workers in Carlsbad, California surprised themselves when they unearthed Ice Age fossils dating back between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago.