A rare fossil has been found by an 11-year-old girl on the shore of an East Tennessee lake. The girl named Ryleigh Taylor found the fossil on a rock. She decided to take it home with her.
According to an associate professor at the University of Tennessee named Colin Sumrall, it was an unusual find. Sumrall, who is a paleobiologist, analyzed the fossil. He discovered it was more than 475 million years old. It belonged to a sea creature called a trilobite.
Professor Sumrall said that the trilobite went extinct before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Sumrall was also impressed with the shape of the young girl’s find. It was in better condition than most trilobite fossils found. Trilobites are thought to have molted like lobsters. Most trilobite fossils are found in pieces but this one was found intact.
Trilobites came in many different shapes and sizes. Some would have been impossible to see with the naked eye and some were as long as 2 feet. Scientists believe there were over 600 species of the ancient sea animal. Trilobites first appeared on the scene around 521 million years ago.
Sumrall said maybe discovering the ancient fossil might lead the 11-year-old to become a scientist like him. She just hoped her discovery might inspire other kids to get out in nature and see what they could find.