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Unusual discovery

By Kelly Foss

An Earth Sciences field school has made an unusual discovery in the Carboniferous rocks of Northwest Cove, near St. Andrews in the Codroy Valley area.

Earth Sciences grad student Lina Stolze found a large fossil bone, which, based on its size, is thought to have come from an ancient amphibian.

Ms. Stolze is a graduate student who was attending a field school run by Dr. Duncan McIlroy. The graduate and Level Three earth science students were taken to western Newfoundland to study the architecture of the rocks in the area and look for clues as to the different environments in which the rocks were formed.

“Exceptional vertebrate fossils are known from the Joggins World Heritage Site in Nova Scotia, said Dr. Liam Herringshaw, a postdoctoral fellow who works with Dr. McIlroy. “But as far as we know, nothing like it has ever been discovered in Newfoundland until now. With all the students there we had lots of pairs of eyes and often they see things without knowing what it is.

“Lina thought she had found a piece of fossilized wood, but we were able to confirm that it was actually bone.”

Dr. Herringshaw says the rocks in the area are essentially the same age and environment as those at the Joggins site and has speculated there might be similar fossils there.

“It’s quite large piece, about 10 centimetres long,” he said. “So it must have belonged to a fairly reasonable-sized animal. It’s quite unusual.

“Looking at images of Joggins fossils online, it’s probably something like a giant salamander,” he added, “But with one bone it’s hard to say. Joggins has been very well studied for a long time, but this area hasn’t. It may have the potential to yield quite a lot more if people are willing to spend the time there.”