The girl discovered a trilobite fossil that scientists believe dates back 475 million years, and extraordinary and very rare find.
As we reported recently, an 11-year-old girl stumbled upon a 475-million-year-old fossil of an empty cast exoskeleton of a trilobite while walking along the shore of Douglas Lake in East Tennessee. And her remarkable find has earned worldwide headlines as well as shown that people on the Internet still have a sense of childlike wonder and fascination with such discoveries.
Ryleigh Taylor just thought it was a cool looking rock when she saw it, but experts who later examined it have identified it as a trilobite, an extinct marine arthropod, that probably lived in this area when it was under water. It is very, very rare for such an ancient fossil of a trilobite exoskeleton to be in plain sight like this, making it all the more remarkable that little Ryleigh was able to find it.
Trilobite fossils are not particularly uncommon, but these intact exoskeleton specimens are. Since trilobites molt as they grow, their skeletons typically shatter into hundreds of pieces, so this intact specimen will be a prized possession for scientists. And people all around the world reacted to the find with the kind of amazement and wonder you can expect on the Internet these days.
“This is a non-news item. There are tens of thousands of similar trilobite fossils found in many locations around the US and the world,” wrote Estanislao Deloserrata in the comments of a Newsweek article on the find, apparently misunderstanding that the find of the exoskeleton, not a trilobite fossil itself, was what was rare. “Nothing ‘rare’ about it. In fact, you can find similar items for sale around the country.”
“IM confused about what makes this rare?” added Stacie Meier, also misunderstanding the discovery. “Trilobite are easy to find anywhere in the World. And there were so many different types. Trilobite’s are considered a starter fossil for people who wish to start in the field. They are not rare at all. In fact, they are so common, that people who search for fossils often ignore them.”
And then there’s Bill Beer, a KnoxNews reader who could barely contain his excitement: “Not news.”