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Dog Stumbles Upon 300 Million-Year-Old Fossil

Science & Tech  (tags: fossil, Canada, Nova Scotia, discovery, paleontology, ancient, science, reptile )

- 2253 days ago -
A family and their dog named Kitty have stumbled upon one of the most significant fossil finds ever in Nova Scotia.


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Michael O (176)
Thursday August 16, 2012, 8:44 pm
The reptile fossil, affectionately nicknamed "Superstar," is the first of its kind to be found in the province.

While out walking along Nova Scotia's fossil-rich Northumberland shore, Patrick Keating, his family, and their dog, Kitty, found a fossilized rib cage, backbone and partial sail.

When they went back to the same area a week later, they found the creature's fossilized skull.

"We really had no idea how significant this was," said Keating. "My brother Peter and his kids took the pieces to the Nova Scotia Museum and when we learned what they were, we were truly amazed and so glad we brought them in."

Researchers estimate the reptile lived between 290 and 305 million years ago, during the Carboniferous Period or early Permian Period.

Based on fossil evidence, researchers believe Superstar was a juvenile, measuring about one metre long, weighing in at about 15 kilograms.

Paleontologists and other staff from the Museum of Natural History, the Fundy Geological Museum and the Joggins Fossil Institute are working together to unravel the mystery.

"A new window into our ancient world has just opened," said Deborah Skilliter, curator of geology for the Nova Scotia Museum. "This is just the beginning of the story as we undertake the task of determining exactly what type of sail-back reptile Superstar is, where, and how, it lived and died."

Previously, scientists had discovered fossilized footprints in Colchester County and a few scattered bones on P.E.I., but Superstar is the most complete specimen to date.

Skilliter and other researchers are very excited.

"This is one of the most significant fossils that's come out of the province in recent history," she said.

"This was a land creature. Land creatures don't get preserved as easily as water creatures, aquatic things so it's rare that we get a land animal ...150 years of paleontological research in the province and not a single bone, and here we get almost the whole darn thing."

The fossil comes from a branch of reptiles described as mammal-like as they are thought to be the ancient ancestors of modern mammal species.

The original find has led to the discovery of a dragonfly wing fossil at the same site, one of five discovered in Nova Scotia.

"This is a great day for Nova Scotians and the world," said Leonard Preyra, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage in a statement.

"These fossils of extinct animals connect us to our past by helping to tell the story of Nova Scotia's and the earth's history. This enriches our lives today and gives us insight for the future."

Preyra commended the family for doing the right thing by bringing the fossils to the attention of the museum.

"This is the perfect example of why the Special Places Protection Act is in place," he said. "The act allows fossils to be properly researched, displayed and enjoyed by thousands of people for years to come."

The Special Places Protection Act protects important archaeological, historical and paleontological sites and remains, including those underwater.

The fossil will be on display at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax from Aug. 18 to Sept. 3.


Past Member (0)
Friday August 17, 2012, 6:24 am
Good to know . Thanks for sharing.

Louise D (44)
Friday August 17, 2012, 8:06 am
Dogs are good at finding bones, though these ones will not be used for munching on.

Sandi C (94)
Friday August 17, 2012, 8:58 am
Hope the dog named Kitty's owner bought them a bone or treat!

David C (108)
Friday August 17, 2012, 10:35 am

Marianna molnar woods (9)
Friday August 17, 2012, 12:34 pm

janet f (29)
Friday August 17, 2012, 4:31 pm
I've always been fascinated by dinosaurs.

Mary Donnelly (47)
Friday August 17, 2012, 4:45 pm
Clever dog.

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday August 17, 2012, 5:58 pm
Noted & thanks for posting, Michael. So interesting!

Phillipa W (199)
Friday August 17, 2012, 6:35 pm

Rin S (10)
Friday August 17, 2012, 7:07 pm
Wow, incredible. Thanks for the article.

Gloria H (88)
Friday August 17, 2012, 8:05 pm
Kitty must have an amazing sniffer to find those old bones!

Marie W (67)
Friday August 17, 2012, 10:02 pm
Dogs and bones...

Michael Barth (43)
Saturday August 18, 2012, 9:25 am
Awesome discovery. I found this to be really interesting.

. (0)
Saturday August 18, 2012, 10:59 am
Great article-thanks

Rebecca Y (26)
Saturday August 18, 2012, 12:37 pm
They should take Kitty along with them when they go looking for old bones! He seems to be a better paleontologist than the accredited ones! It's always amazing to find the bones of all our buried ancestors!

Marianna molnar woods (9)
Saturday August 18, 2012, 1:10 pm

Muriel Servaege (53)
Saturday August 18, 2012, 2:07 pm
Thank you for sharing.

Kate K (215)
Saturday August 18, 2012, 6:26 pm
Truly quite interesting. I'm happy when my dog brings back his ball, something like this would be excellent. he is more interested in balls than bones though. It must have been very exciting to find this fossil.

Kerrie G (116)
Saturday August 18, 2012, 11:07 pm
Noted, thanks.

Klaus Peters (14)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 2:00 am
What a clever dog Kitty is. To recognise a 300 m year old fossil as a bone, well, incredible.

Seda A (4)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 12:29 pm
very interesting. thanks for sharing

Dawn F (3)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 12:49 pm

Bianca D (87)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 8:40 pm
Can you imagine finding something that is 300 *million* years old?! Fab report. Amazing. Thanks so much Michael.

Nimue Michelle Pendragon Gaze (339)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 8:55 pm
Very cool :)

James Merit (144)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 9:37 pm
Amazing and very interesting, thank you for sharing!

Elaya Raja (39)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 10:47 pm
Thanks for the info..

Past Member (0)
Sunday August 19, 2012, 11:13 pm

Jo Ellen H (3)
Monday August 20, 2012, 5:14 am

Dan(iel) M (25)
Monday August 20, 2012, 5:22 am
Interesting. Thanks for posting.

Dan(iel) M (25)
Monday August 20, 2012, 5:34 am
Interesting Article. Thanks for posting.

Donna B (36)
Monday August 20, 2012, 1:47 pm
Very interesting and what a good doggie. Thx for sharing Michael.

Jim P (3247)
Monday August 20, 2012, 4:58 pm
This is a very good find, simply awesome.

Maybe the pup will find more...

Ty, Michael.

John B (185)
Monday August 20, 2012, 5:18 pm
Thanks Michael for posting the CBC article by Cassie Williams. Very interesting read and kudos to the Keating family for doing the right thing and to Kitty for helping find the fossil. Read and noted.

Sam E M (0)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 2:01 am
To think they might not have taken the bones to the Nova Scotia Museum and we might never have known about this important discovery. Makes you want to take to the hills and see what can be found by digging around.

Robert Hardy (68)
Tuesday August 21, 2012, 6:27 pm
Good find. Good family. Good dog.

M B (62)
Wednesday August 22, 2012, 3:26 pm
this is so interesting, good job Kitty !!
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