A Young girl from Tennessee, on her walk along the Douglas Lake in Dandridge, discovered something not so ordinary on the lake shore, which later turned out to be a 475-million-year-old fossil dating back to the Paleozoic Era and belonging to an extinct marine creature.
An 11-year-old girl, Ryleigh Taylor, spotted a 475-million-year-old artifact of a time gone by when she was on a walk. Whereas it’s not at all an obvious thing to be hit by some ancient fossils so casually. Either it’s merely great luck she is crowned with or it’s here observing capability that can detect unusual things which might seem too ordinary for the common minds.
To learn more about the fascinating thing she found, her family approached Colin Sumrall, an associate professor of paleobiology at the University of Tennessee. “It’s actually fairly unusual for someone to find a fossil,” says Sumrall.
Sumrall classified the 475-million-year-old fossil to be a trilobite, an ancient extinct marine arthropod that once existed in the water around East Tennessee, millions of years ago.
According to Fossilera, the extinct trilobites are one of the earliest known groups of arthropods and probably one of the first creatures to have developed the sense of vision. The structure of their bodies gave Trilobites their current name. The body is segmented into three sections: a left pleural lobe, an axial lobe, and a right pleural lobe. These aquatic beings are plausibly most closely related to today’s horseshoe crabs and molted their exoskeleton, to a much extent, like lobsters of today.
Young Ryleigh’s excitement knew no bounds. She was thankful that a thing which anyone could have picked up, found only her hands. “To find something like that, it’s really really cool,” said Ryleigh. “I looked down while I was walking and I found it, I just saw it.”
The first presence of trilobites can be marked at the preceding Cambrian some 521 million years back. Even from this time, fossils started showing a great degree of diversity and geographic pattern, therefore emergence was quite earlier.
What made the discovery more important if the fact that trilobite fossil was found completely intact, which is a wonder among fossils of this species. Because the trilobite skeleton just disintegrates itself into hundreds of tiny pieces, which makes it harder to study the species thoroughly.
There are over 600 trilobite species cataloged by the scientists so far. Some of these species were microscopic in measurement; others grew to be considerably large. One such example is Isotelus rex, which could grow as high as two feet in length.
Arthropods are the existing relatives of trilobites. Such as spiders, scorpions and crustaceans share features, contributing evidence to the Paleozoic lifestyle of their extinct ancestors. An arthropod is classified as an invertebrate possessing an exoskeleton. They have a segmented skeleton and jointed limbs. They have a pair of appendages on each of its duplicated segments.
That interesting thing being so worthful was picked up by Ryleigh after the 11-year-old recognized it lying on the head of a rock, the girl’s mother, Tammy Taylor, explained in the interview. Sumrall described Ryleigh’s finding as a stroke of the accident and explained that trilobite fossils are hardly uncovered in such an excellent condition.
“Typically when we look at fossils of trilobites, they molt when they grow. So what happens is, when the trilobite skeleton just crumbles into hundreds of little pieces. said Sumrall in an interview.
To add more significance to the young girl’s discovery, he said, “To find one where all the pieces are intact, it’s actually a pretty lucky find.”
Some fossils show individual trilobites being immersed while relaxing just outside worm burrows which gives a hint that some species might even have hunted burrowing creatures and perhaps used their specific limbs for such predatory activities. Even before millions of years, trilobites had warrior kind of lifestyle to earn their regular food.
Ryleigh quotes her discovery to be “really, really cool.” The 11-year-old said to the journalists that she believes other kids of her age will get some motivation by her lucky find and start going out more often to contribute their precious time in exploring the nature and see what they can find.
“I can show kids that are my age that they don’t have to sit inside and play games. They can actually go outside and find different things,” said Ryleigh.
Trilobites proceeded to develop and spread during the lower Paleozoic until their they came to an end into the Devonian. Interesting to note that Proetida is the only trilobite order that existed into the Permian. The Permian mass extinction, which took place some 250 million years back, involved the dissolution of the last trilobites as well.
On top of this, Sumrall thinks that Ryleigh’s fortunate discovery could end up having a major influence on the girl’s coming future. Which is pretty obvious as the mind of such a young girl is looking for loads of excitement and if it gets that from this discovery of ancient fossil, this might mold her mind to make paleontology her passionate career.
“To find something like that, it could spark this youngster into a whole career. Maybe she’ll become a great paleontologist one day.”
Trilobites’ tiny size might confuse many about their deadly lifestyle. Some species are mud scavengers and their streamlined body build up or flowing spikes signifies the ability to swim or float effectively for purpose of hunting or filtering.
There’s no foretelling what secrets and excitements future hold for Ryleigh. For now, she’s too happy to continue exploring and looking for more unordinary stuff out there. Ryleigh doesn’t plan on keeping the 475-million-year-old fossil of the Paleozoic Era with her. She wants it to be presented in a public museum so other people can learn about it.