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Five Year Old Finds Rare Fossil

Updated on June 21, 2013

Emily's Fossil

Emily Baldry, aged five, went with her Dad to a Cotswold Water Park for a fossil hunting day. No one expected that this ordinary family outing would be reported in newspapers and on television all over the world and would excite the scientific world. Emily, as any five year old would do, took the spade that she normally uses for making sandcastles to search for fossils at the water park. What Emily found, on that ordinary family outing, thrilled palaeontologists and geologists.

Emily found a 160 million year old fossil of an ocean mollusc called Rieneckia odysseus. The fossil is 16 inches in diameter and weighs 126lb. Emily named the fossil “Spike”. As the fossil was encased in a block of mudstone, when Emily found it, she handed it over to geologist Neville Hollingworth for restoration. He spent a year restoring “Spike”, as Emily named the fossil, and now he can be seen in all his polished beauty. Reneckia Odysseus has a spiral-patterned shell with inch long bristles along it, for fending off predators.

Emily, now aged six, was recently reunited with her fossil, at the Gateway Information Centre, Cirencester, where visitors may see Spike on display. Emily was excited to see Spike looking so shiny. Her father marvelled at the work that had gone into restoring this huge fossil. Dr. Hollingworth, who made “Spike” look so beautiful, said that this was the first whole rieneckia odysseus found in Britain, as all others found have been in fragments. Emily is excited by her find and says that she has many different fossils now and cannot wait to go fossil hunting again. Perhaps Emily will become a palaeontologist when she grows up.

Emily's schoolmates like her fossil too and were very interested when she took it to school. The class nature table must have been the best in the school that day and the children in Emily's class must have had an exciting lesson learning all about Emily's exciting find and fossils and ancient animals. Palaeontologists liked Emily's fossil even more. It just goes to prove that one need not be a palaeontologist or a geologist to discover fossils.

The Cotswold Water Park is a treasure trove of fossils; former discoveries there include a mammoth skull, now on display in the Gateway Centre. The Cotswold Water Park runs regular fossil hunts.

Many places in the United Kingdom run similar fossil hunting days for the public and you are sure to find one near to where you live. In the English county of Dorset, there are the Jurassic cliffs, where fossils have long been found, but never cut fossils out of the cliffs, you can be prosecuted for doing so, you can however, pick up any fossils that are laying on the beaches.

In the United States, you can also find fossil hunting trips, why not take your children for a different day out?

Those in other countries, can discover fossil trips by using the search term "Public Fossil hunts" followed by their country's name.

Taking the family on a fossil hunting trip will make a day out that will be much less expensive than a theme park. It will provide a learning opportunity for children and adults alike and may prove as satisfying and exciting as Emily's trip was.


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  • Mercia Collins profile image

    Mercia Collins 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thank-you Keri, yes this story interested me. I liked it because it shows that you do not have to be a famous paleontologist to find interesting things.

  • Keri Summers profile image

    Keri Summers 6 years ago from West of England

    This is so cute! Yes, the nature table must have been amazing that day! Up & interesting.