An amateur paleontologist named Stephanie Leco makes a rare discovery: the fossils of a fish dating back to the late Triassic era.
It seems she discovered a jaw bone pertaining to a long-snouted fish that used to exist approximately 220 million years ago. She found it at Petrified Forest National Park, near Holbrook, Arizona. Leco participated in the very first digs held over there, this August.
She and her team unearthed the fossil from a lake or pond that would date to the late Triassic era. The fish were believed to be extinct during that period, in North America.
She had handed the fossil she discovered to the park’s lead fossil preparer, Matt Smith. It seems the fossil displayed broken teeth. Then she asked him what exactly the fossil was, but he said that he didn’t know.
The team afterwards took the jawbone to the lab for further analysis, under a microscope. She was e-mailed that the fish was actually a Saurichthys, or, at least, a close relative.
Since then, she said she developed an even more complex fascination towards paleontology. She even bought some more books regarding the Triassic period, in order to speak to higher authorities about what she had discovered.
Moreover, the fish jaw would be much longer than what Leco discovered. It was reported that similar fish fossils could be identified on the Colorado Plateau and on the East Coast.
A senior at the University of California, Berkley, Ben Kligman, has also studied the pond site, as he plans to make a trip back to Petrified Forest to see whether he can find a full fossil of the fish. He wants to pinpoint whether it’s a new species or not. He reported that he already had some pieces of the fish, small ones, but that he couldn’t identify them as such. This happened before Leco found the jaw bone.
He also explained that
“although it’s probably a new species, we can’t say that it is yet because we don’t have enough specimens.”
Other participants in the August digs also discovered the teeth of a carnivorous reptile and the vertebrae of a long-necked lizard.
Leco finally pointed out that her discovery made her even more eager to go on digging trips in the near future.
Photo Credits canadajournal.net