Friday, 12 April 2013

Schoolboy finds 300 million year-old fossil

An Oxford schoolboy has discovered what appears to be an extremely rare fossil of footprints from more than 300 million years ago. Ten-year-old Bruno Debattista, who attends Windmill Primary School in Oxford, brought a piece of shale rock containing what he thought might be a fossilised imprint to the after-school club at Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History. Experts were astonished to find that it appeared to contain the trackways left by a horseshoe crab crawling up the muddy slopes of an ancient shore around 320 million years ago. Footprints of this age are incredibly rare and extremely hard to spot. Still more impressive is the fact that Bruno had a hunch they might be some kind of footprints, even though the specimen had some world expert geologists arguing about it over their microscopes.
Bruno’s fossil has been confirmed by the Museum as likely showing footprints of a pair of mating horseshoe crabs laid down during the Carboniferous period, some 308-327 million years ago. At this time, the sea was slowly being sealed off as the Earth’s landmasses crunched together to form Pangaea. Bruno and his family have decided to donate the fossil specimen to the Museum’s collection.

 The Natural History After-School Club is run by the Museum’s education department and encourages Year 6 children to develop their interest in the natural world, in the hope that some might become the next generation of geologists and zoologists.

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