Family Makes Provinces Most Significant Fossil Find

first_imgPatrick Keating knew he and his family found something special while walking along the Northumberland Shore with their dog Kitty. But they had no idea they had made one of the most significant fossil discoveries in Nova Scotia. It is the first rib cage, backbone and partial sail of the sail-back reptile to be found in Nova Scotia. “This is a great day for Nova Scotians and the world,” said Leonard Preyra, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage. “These fossils of extinct animals connect us to our past by helping to tell the story of Nova Scotia’s and the earth’s history. This enriches our lives today and gives us insight for the future.” The sail-back reptile, a mammal-like reptile, lived during the late Carboniferous Period or early Permian Period, making it 290 million to 305 million years old. Palaeontologists knew the sail-back reptile existed in the area as footprints were found in 1994 at Brule, Colchester Co., and isolated bones were discovered in 1845 in P.E.I. Mr. Keating, his wife Susie and their son Zachary, went back to the same location the next week and, remarkably, made another amazing discovery. They found the skull of the sail-back reptile, which researchers have affectionately named Superstar. “A new window into our ancient world has just opened,” said Deborah Skilliter, curator of geology for the Nova Scotia Museum. “This is just the beginning of the story as we undertake the task of determining exactly what type of sail-back reptile Superstar is, where, and how, it lived and died.” Palaeontologists and other staff from the Nova Scotia Museum, the Fundy Geological Museum, and the Joggins Fossil Institute are working together to unravel the mystery. The original find has led to the discovery of a dragonfly wing fossil at the same site, one of five discovered in Nova Scotia. “We really had no idea how significant this was,” said Patrick Keating. “My brother Peter and his kids took the pieces to the Nova Scotia Museum and when we learned what they were, we were truly amazed and so glad we brought them in.” Mr. Preyra commended the two families for doing the right thing by bringing the fossils to the Nova Scotia Museum. “This is the perfect example of why the Special Places Protection Act is in place,” he said. “The act allows fossils to be properly researched, displayed and enjoyed by thousands of people for years to come.” The Special Places Protection Act protects important archaeological, historical and palaeontological sites and remains, including those underwater. Superstar will be on display for two weeks at the Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer St., Halifax, starting Saturday, Aug. 18. To read more about Superstar and track the researchers’ progress visit . Nova Scotia is known around the world for its fossils and in 2008, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, one of the province’s most fossil-rich areas, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.last_img read more