11-Year Old Girl Finds 475-Million-Year-Old Trilobite Fossil While Strolling By the Lake


An 11-year-old girl, Ryleigh Taylor was lucky to find an ancient fossil when she was strolling by Douglas Lake. She was walking on the banks of the lake and she saw something unusual on the shore. Her discovery was actually a very old fossil: it was a 475-million-year-old Trilobite fossil from the Paleozoic Era.

After her discovery, the girl’s family called Colin Sumrall, who is an associate professor of paleobiology at the University of Tennessee. He identified the fossil as being a very old trilobite, which lived in the waters around East Tennessee 475-million years ago. Sumrall agreed that it was “actually fairly unusual for someone to find a fossil.”

Not only was it unlikely for the fossil to be found, but it was also intact, making it a rare discovery. Tammy Taylor, Ryleigh’s mother, said that the girl spotted the fossil laying on top of a rock. Sumrall explains why the girl was lucky to find such an amazing piece:

“Typically, when we look at fossils of trilobites, they molt when they grow. So, what happens is, the trilobite skeleton just crumbles into hundreds of little pieces. To find one where all the pieces are intact, it’s actually a pretty lucky find.”

What Did Ryleigh Think of Her Discovery?

The 11-year-old thinks that it was “really, really cool” that she found such an old fossil and she hopes that kids like her will be encouraged to spend more time exploring the nature instead of spending time on video games.

Sumrall thinks that the girl’s discovery could mean she’s going to have a bright future ahead of her:

“To find something like that, it could spark this youngster into a whole career. Maybe she’ll become a great paleontologist one day.”

Trilobites are related to the present day’s horseshoe crabs, molting their exoskeleton just like the lobsters. So far, scientists have recorded 600 trilobite species, some microscopic and other very large, like the Isotelus rex that reached up to 2 feet length.

Another discovery of a youngster is that of a 10-year-old boy, who, at the beginning of this year, he came across a very rare “lizard fish” fossil, which is 90-million-year-old.


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